Review: Love and the Mess We’re In by Stephen Marche

Love and the Mess We’re In (Gaspereau) by Stephen Marche is a beautifully designed novel whose text flows in all directions, providing an unusual reading experience as typography competes with plot.marche18rv1

The book tells the story of Clive and Viv, old friends who have an adulterous affair in Argentina. When Viv’s husband dies unexpectedly, she and Clive continue their relationship, get pregnant, and move to New York to start their family. Different fonts, type sizes, images and page layouts mimic what’s happening in the narrative, providing a delightful subtext to the words. A full-colour, fold-out transit map of New York City plotting significant events in Clive and Viv’s lives completes the book.

However, the typographic design overshadows and overextends the plot; scenes are drawn out (70 pages for an uncomfortable dinner; 50 pages for the sex scene) ostensibly for more room to play with the type, but at the expense of creating an interesting narrative.

I love the book’s design but wish the story had been equally exciting.

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