by Renée French
A collection of illustrations of bunnies and girls, done by French’s character Edison Steelhead. This book catalogs the moment each picture was drawn as well as mapping the places they were drawn. Both beautiful and disturbing, this book is wonderfully engrossing.
Renée French’s small but beautiful book Edison Steelhead’s Lost Portfolio: Exploratory Studies of Girls and Rabbits perhaps has many themes, but surely the most obvious is body horror. Each spread includes a soft, detailed charcoal rendering of a girl or a rabbit on the right, with a short, disjointed description on the left. Supposedly written by Edison Steelhead, these descriptions include the condition – whether it is medical, or something like “covered in flying insects” of the drawing, as well as where Edison drew it, what he consumed, as well as some small observations he made while drawing.
Are these girls and rabbits from the imagination of our unreliable narrator? Some of them seem to be drawn from life – or just from memory; because surely Edison Steelhead also suffers from some kind of illness. Many of his descriptions include the number of pills he took, headaches coming on, as well as avoiding the sun. His sad but kind affection towards a girl wearing a halo brace also develops over the course of the book; he is alone and obsessed with the grotesque. His self-pity occasionally seeps through the precise and mechanical wording.
One color, with color cover