Following my review of the PostSecret website, I was contacted as part of PostSecret‘s “blog-first marketing strategy.” Regan Books, a division of Harper Collins, was kind enough to send me a quality of the hard-bound, 276-page PostSecret book. tdaxp-friend Dave generously offered to review collection
PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives by Frank Warren ($16.47, amazon.com) is a book about an inspiration which grew into a project. The young Frank was off at camp, mailed his family a postcard, and got home before the postcard did, leading to a lifetime of interest in the personal spaces involved in physical forms of communication.
This book is about an art project/social experiment he assembled, in which he asked people to send him postcards with a secret on them..not necessarily anything world-shattering, just a secret they had not shared with others. The results range from tragic (people feeling sorry about what they never had a chance to say to those now dead) to the somewhat depressing (many, many postcards expressing loneliness and a feeling of abandonment) to the funny (one that cracked Dan up was a confession of physical attraction to Adolf Hitler- not his actions, just how he looked in a uniform) to the uplifting (toward the back of the book, a young woman writes her secrets on postcards, but, deciding this medium is impersonal enough to share comfortably, leaves them on her boyfriend’s pillow as she goes off to work, and receives his proposal of marriage before lunch). Truly, a something-for-everyone brawl of human fears, hates, loves, and lusts, in no particular order. One senses that any attempt to categorize PostSecret would have lost something in translation, much like an effort to straighten up a Zen garden or a Pinter play.
The postcards frequently feature artwork. Some are professionally printed cards which take on new meaning in the light of the message, others are collages of images and text. A few are clearly original drawings or watercolors, giving the message unique personalization. Some of the artwork is clearly R-rated or more, but always in a context of making the message clear and driving home that these are real people trying to communicate.
This isn’t a book for everyone- one of Dan’s friends [who knew of the book beforehand and began reading by saying "This book is going to be big!" -- tdaxp] was actively repulsed by it, thinking it perhaps just too open about what other humans really think and do. I’m of the opinion that this book has value just for its rich visual texture, and the messages are a bonus. If you know someone who really and truly loves people, despite all their quirks, this would be a fine Christmas gift.