Are The Friction
edited by Jez Burrows and Lizzy Stewart
Frank Chimero, Charlie Duck,
Ray Fenwick, Andrew Holder,
Verity Keniger, Jon Klassen,
McGowan, Nigel Peake,
Pietari Posti, Jay Cover,
Nicolas Burrows, William Edmonds, Thomas Hudson,
Roxanne Paris, Ben Greenman, Chris Eaton,
Ryan Boudinot, Sean Michaels,
Editors: Lizzy Stewart is
an illustrator originally from south Devon who has been living in
Edinburgh for four years.
Jez Burrows is
designer and illustrator from south Devon, now living and working in
I’ll discourse, is rare in genetics, so when it spatters from
genetics, we see it. We see it in the trochilidae, the Sparkling
Violet-ear Hummingbird, it’s body green and orange, but for the
violet ear. The lovebird, especially, is violet, the color first
traced in this species in Denmark only in the 1980s. "
Reviewed by Sarah Salway
glance and I took against this book, mostly because of the way the
editors seemed to make it a battle against illustrator and writer.
Ray Fenwick vs Spencer Krug, Ryan Boudinot vs Pietari Posti. But then
when I started reading, I saw what they were getting at. The book is
in two sections. In the first half, twelve writers submit short pieces
that have been inspired by illustration, but in the second half, the
illustrators are asked to create something from the writing. Same
writer with same illustrator.
The result is nothing short of a
conversation. And to me spoke of the tension always present in
creating, that although for the best writing you need to be free, you
also need something to anchor back to. In this case it was the
illustration or the piece of writing each contributor was responding
to, and unlike most inspirations or visits from the muse, here it was
a visible and solid presence.
I read this book, not page after page,
but pair by pair. How did the illustrator’s work change when she
had a particular story to work from? Was there a rhythm to the
writing voice I could recognize between the two pieces coming from
different angles in the process? Were the contributors self
indulgent, or had they really engaged with their ‘opponent’s’
work? Dipping backwards and forwards in the book like this made the
actual physical experience of reading more explicit, helped by the
fact that this is a very satisfying book to hold in your hands. Nice
production and satisfying paper texture, don’t mock, it matters.
There’s no doubt that the visual images stood out as strongly as
the words, and sometimes – as in the case of Tao Lin vs Nous Nous -
the pairings seemed to have taken both artist and writer by surprise,
with great effect. Others, such as Dan Kennedy vs Frank Chimero
fitted together completely, both their writing and their art leaving
satisfying gaps for the reader to slip into. Frank Chimero’s
illustration focusing on a key hanging down is particularly haunting.
It’s a great project, a beautiful book. The editors, Jez Burrows
and Lizzy Stewart, admit they were "blindly optimistic" when they
first sent out emails requesting involvement, but the work here,
mostly from American writers, shows that they did not compromise at
all in quality of both the work or the creators. With stories
narrated by a bag from Whole Foods, who used to be a plastic bottle,
(Ryan Boudinot), to Monster (A Play
in Five Acts), Chris Eaton, and
my favourite, The Vegan Muffin who
worked at NASA (Tao Lin), these
are innovative funny ambitious stories which nevertheless keep the
optimism first felt by the editors. Some of the illustrations too are
so alive, I’m not surprised to see they’ve been made into posters
available on the publishers website.
would have loved to have read some views on the process from both the
writers and the illustrators, if not in the book then on the website.
It felt to me that there was as much going on between the way the
pairs worked together as resulted on the page. But, on the whole, if
this book was set out as a battle, then the clear winner is the