What haunts us? What can't we let go of? In more than two dozen stories and vignettes accompanied by an evocative curiosity cabinet of artifacts and images—found photographs, original paintings, Instagram-style portraits—Guestbook takes us through the evidence that marks our paths through life.
...entirely original ... She creates these temporal collisions by combining her own original text with found images, and the results are exceedingly uncanny ... All of the vignettes suggest hauntings of one kind or another—supernatural, psychological, metaphorical—and each left me unsettled but riveted ... Other vignettes in Guestbook resist easy description. But that’s the beauty of this book ... Guestbook draws eerie, tantalizing power from moments of confusion.
While Guestbook’s subtitle is 'Ghost Stories,' the exquisite minimalism that defines Shapton’s style hews much closer to verse than prose. Shapton’s thoughtful layout of text and her use of images sets a deliberate, poetic pace. She invites her readers to slow down, to linger, to let the language percolate ... As with a traditional ghost story, what’s left out and unseen is purposeful, powerful, and just as important as what’s actually there. And just as ghost stories are passed down and retold, Guestbook encourages us to further develop the narrative ourselves ... Through the immersive, wholly original reading experience of Guestbook, Shapton has bested herself yet again, masterfully elevating the ghost story form to new heights. Here, poetry is arranged as prose, and poems challenge our perception. They require looking as much as they do reading, and morph back and forth into titles, headlines, annotations, captions, or fragments pulled from a diary. The book is also a vehicle by which Shapton destabilizes timeless symbols of death and ghosts, creating an exhilarating visual and poetic performance...
Guestbook is not exactly a book of ghost stories, though its subtitle disagrees. It behaves more like a short story collection than any other literary form, but reading it feels akin to walking through an art exhibit, each piece linked in ways that are ineffable but clear ... Without fail, [the book is] unexpected, subtle and moving. Shapton excels at evoking emotion through absence, which is, perhaps, a skill borrowed from more traditional ghost stories ... Guestbook is a profoundly sympathetic work, and one filled with yearning. That yearning, like a ghost, lingers long after the stories are done.