Today I have a small collection of short vignettes – all using a photograph by photographer Eugène Atget as the nexus of the idea.
For those unfamiliar with Atget, he spent 30 years as a documentary photographer capturing images of “Old Paris”, providing visual references of the forgotten and the often nameless street vendors, prostitutes, rag pickers and small tradesmen who frequented the side streets and back alleyways in the center of the city. From 1897 to 1927 he photographed people, architecture and landscapes along the Seine: his photographs show parts of the city that are now no longer after the war and various revitalization projects. A full biography and several additional images can be found at Atget Photography, while images can be seen at the Getty Museum, MoMa and the National Gallery to name a few.
In this collection, Greg Bogaerts has taken sixteen photos of characters in the photos, and used them as inspiration to create these stories. Each story varies in length, with imagined conversations, providing background and personality to the figures within the photos.
Beautifully imagined and written, each of these vignettes brings the image into a context in unique ways, using conversation, memory and physical appearance to bring the figures to life. My favorite of the stories was Pierre, the Market Porter: both his image and the story breathe life into Pierre: his fears, imaginings and worries are there for all to see. Choosing a favorite was a difficult task, each story brings a sense of the city and the time while delving into the photos. For anyone who has ever stared at old photographic images and wondered just who was that person, or what were they thinking: this is a wonderful collection with answers and options to amuse and enjoy.
Perhaps my favorite photo is this one:
Children Playing, Luxembourg Gardens, 1898
~ Eugène Atget
Title: Walking Paris Streets with Eugène Atget
Author: Greg Bogaerts
Genre: Literary Fiction
Published by: Shanti Arts LLC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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Walking Paris Streets With Eugène Atget: Inspired Stories About the Ragpicker, Lampshade Vendor, and Other Characters and Places of Old France is a collection of sixteen stories inspired by photographs of early twentieth-century photographer Eugène Atget, often regarded as the first "street photographer.
" These masterfully-written stories bring the characters in Atget's photographs to life as they confront and suffer through the social and political changes that led to modern France.
Some characters are endearing, some are despicable; a few characters rouse a good chuckle and others prompt feelings of grief and sadness. All of the characters and their stories are unforgettable, all securely tethered to the places, history, and mythos of Old France.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.