A Book of Days is not a starting point for getting one’s arms around the artwork, legacy, or history of Smith, and not because she assumes the reader knows these things already. She may just be finished talking about them ... We’re trying to ferret out a deeper connectivity to Smith by looking at her mundane objects while she is trying to ferret out a deeper connectivity to her heroes by looking at their mundane objects. It’s an ironic loop of parasocial relationshipping, and so A Book of Days succeeds in generating a kind of intimacy ... Her literary voice is the same as ever, and as usual, I very much enjoyed her sometimes unintentionally hilarious and swoony descriptions of other celebrity creatives.
Smith poignantly mixes pictures from her Chicago childhood, early New York years, family life with Fred 'Sonic' Smith, and various pilgrimages with new images, some chronicling the pandemic. Detecting the sacred everywhere she looks, Smith photographs her 'desk talismans' and personal shrines ... Her images of coffee cups and gravestones, beaches and gardens are intimate and poetic; her captions are tender, imaginative, funny, and elegiac. Laced with gratitude and wonder, this is a transporting and affecting tour of Smith’s influences and aesthetics, an evocative celebration of her devotion to creativity and 'the blessed task of remembrance.'
Inspired by the captioned photo format, this book provides an image for every day of the year and descriptions that are by turns intimate, humorous, and insightful, and each bit of text adds human depth to the image ... Part calendar, part memoir, and part cultural record, the book serves as a rich exploration of the author’s fascinating mind ... Powerful.