Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Visual Novel

One of the best things about having a husband who manages a bookstore is that sometimes he brings home a book or particular excitingness. In this case, it is The Three Incestuous Sisters by Audrey Niffenegger author of The Time Traveler's Wife. Her new book is very different. It is a novel in pictures. The story is of three sisters, Bettine who is the youngest and prettiest, Ohile who is the eldest and smartest, and Clothilde who is in the middle and the most talented. All is fine until the lighthouse keeper's son, Paris, arrives on the scene. There is a lovely print of Paris choosing one of the three sisters that has mythological echoes (including apples). After Paris makes his choice sibling rivalry, jealousy and grief follow. It is a curious and sad story beautifully told. The images are aquatints, made with zinc plates and acid. Niffenegger explains the process at the end of the book. She began making the aquatints thirteen years ago. She began writing the story when she was fourteen. Three Incestuous Sisters was originally a handmade edition of ten. Oh to have one of those ten. But I am glad Abrams produced it in a hardbound book for the rest of us.