But Griffin had never met a woman named Sabine. How did she know him? How did she know his artwork? Who is she? Thus begins the strange and intriguing correspondence of Griffin and Sabine. And since each letter must be pulled from its own envelope, the reader has the delightful, forbidden sensation of reading someone else’s mail. Griffin & Sabine is like no other illustrated novel: appealing to the poet and artist in everyone and sure to inspire a renaissance in the fine art of letter-writing, it tells an extraordinary story in an extraordinary way.
Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence, by Nick Bantock 8.0
‘Griffin and Sabine’ is the first in a trilogy of books revolving around the correspondence between two heretofore strangers. It is composed of postcards and letters that are beautifully reproduced on each of its pages. The letters are folded into envelopes that are glued into the book and must be taken out to read them.
I received this fantastically unique book as a birthday gift. Having never heard about it (or its author) before then, I was immediately taken with the author’s craftiness; I flipped through it and perused many of these handmade postcards, adorned as they were with such surrealist and quirky artwork.
Evidently, the moment that I could I started to read a few of the postcards. I was seized with a desire to continue as I discovered the story’s basic conceit (beyond the gimmicky presentation): it was the story of a postcard maker who is contacted by a stranger who can see the art he makes in her mind as he makes it.
Fascinated with this discovery, Griffin Moss begins a series of exchanges with this woman, Sabine Strohem, to try to find out more about her. In so doing, we begin to learn about Sabine and Griffin, two eccentric artists who are not just becoming friends, but who are gradually developing a deeper emotional attachment.
I loved this book: the characters spoke their inner thoughts and were candid enough for us to understand them, their histories, visions, desires, and even their frailties. The book shows us how the passage of time impacts the characters, and makes us wonder where it will all lead, dragging us along speedily.
Bantock’s attention to detail is wondrous to see: aside from the marvelous art that he filled the page with, he even gave both characters their own writing styles and had Sabine hand-write each of her correspondences in her beautiful penmanship while Griffin neatly typed his letters – which had grammar mistakes and corrections on them.
The problem was that I didn’t know that this was part of a trilogy: its conclusion was grave, depressing and abrupt. It was deeply unsatisfying. This of course made me wonder if Bantock had published any other books of its ilk, and I discovered that there are two other books in the set (plus a second related trilogy, which came a decade later).
Now that I have been teased, I immediately looked him up at my local library and found that they had all of these books. I just had to request them all, along with one or two of his other, unrelated, books. ‘Griffin and Sabine’ is such a compelling work that I very much look forward to continuing the series. I must know of Griffin Moss’ fate.
‘Griffin and Sabine’ is such a unique work that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone with even the remotest amount of imagination. This will no doubt stir it: it is, indeed, an extraordinary correspondence.