Book Review: Blind Spot

Some books just pull me and leave me lingering. I’d put Teju Cole’s Blind Spot in that category. A mix of intriguing photographs from different parts of the world, combined with small essays that are inspired by the photographs, or the taking of the photographs, this book by Cole is a wonder to experience.

What struck me most was the construction of the essays, and the way I had to “read” into the photographs to understand the slant that Cole brought to his writing with each small piece. And small, they are. For the most part, the essays are a paragraph or two. The ideas he can pack in just a small bit of writing is amazing, and inspiring, and has me thinking of ways photography might better inspire insightful writing.

There’s no one narrative thread through these pieces (there are more than 150 pieces here), except Cole has an eye for humanity, for struggle, for hidden stories, for a sense of place off the beaten path where life shows itself in different ways. He weaves in personal narrative — an eye injury is part of the underpinning of many of his stories — yet finds balance with the global view.

Some of his sentences are so beautiful, so poignant, they could be framed as art. I had read and enjoyed Cole’s Known and Strange Things, but Blind Spot is very different, on so many levels.

I borrowed Blind Spot from the library, but I am thinking now that this might be one of those books I splurge on at some point and get my own copy. I can see myself returning to these essays and photos from time to time, learning more about how to write, how to use images to see the world, how to explore deeper topics.

Thanks to Terry E for recommending Teju Cole, including Blind Spot, a few months ago …

Peace (goes deep),

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