The wonderful world of Maira Kalman is both new and old to me. As a kid I loved the David Byrne children's book Stay Up Late that she illustrated; recently I rediscovered her work when a friend recommended her fantastic book, The Principles of Uncertainty.
Theses musings and illustrations were originally published as a column in the New York Times, which I'm afraid I missed (that's right, I only read Entertainment Weekly and New York Magazine–much like the lone sixth grade who, despite almost insurmountable peer pressure, refuses to read the Harry Potter books).
It stretches the boundaries and definition of novel, graphic novel, art book, and journal. A series of sometimes rambling, often profound reveries and observations, the book teeters on some very iffy ground for me: a navel gazing journal of a middle age zen like woman who philosophizes on the meaning of existence and revels in the mundane? It could easily be a mawkish journey that is simply not my thing at this point in my life–and yet, I was mesmerized and swayed by her honesty and her art.
I feel like it's a book that I could come back to at different ages of my life and be affected by in new ways each time. Her soft, squishy paintings of family members, discarded furniture, wealthy women from the past and fruit offer unique, intimate experiences. It's a very special book that is just beautiful to look at, and beautiful to read.