All The People

All The People by Stephanie Barber (2015)  This book is a collection of 43 short pieces (of prose writing) though I'm not sure what best to call them (I don't like the word “pieces” to be used for writing). I read them the way I read poetry, taking a necessary break between each one. Most (but not all) are first person, and they all have a strong sense of the individual doing the talking (or in some cases, referred to). They are very much like individual portraits, as a strong sense of the person is evoked with each, but each one also creates a narrative—though maybe, in most cases, implied—and maybe continued in your own mind, more than described. At one point it occurred to me that they reminded me of paintings, in that many create a much larger world than what is on the page. A postscript suggests “Vade Mecum” as an alternate title, and I needed to look up that Latin term, which is used to describe a kind of reference book that a person might carry with them (which then becomes dog-eared and soiled, which, in a book, is equal to love). But which more literally means (I think) “go with me”—maybe apt for this book, which asks you to visit some people who may be unlike yourself, and some places that may make you uncomfortable, though at the same time might find wonderful.