Curled delicately, its oil having spread out in a bloom across the pages, the hair is part of a human body in a book about numbered bodies, enslaved and free, the insane, the married and unmarried, the ones with terrible secrets, the somnambulists, the literate and the ones for whom printed words exist only as abstractions, the ones whose hands comfort a dying child, the ones who preach God’s word and those for whom the forest is God’s temple….
Up close, nothing looks as it appears to the naked eye. Bullough’s illustration of an Amphioxus, for example, suggests the Nautilus in Jules Verne’s 1870 novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, or the side view of an enormous flying saucer. It is so real it become fantastic, as reality often does when examined too closely.
Unclaimed images float somewhere in between formal illustrations and doodles. They are graphic interjections into the text. Unlike traditional drawings, woodcuts, engravings, photographs and other images, it’s not always clear who the creator is. In some cases, it seems as if the author herself has created them.
The sad, forgotten beauty of the in-between moments of daily life: playing a board game at a kitchen table just cleared from a family dinner; listening to music having just slipped off your shoes; daydreaming while doing the dishes.