The Art of Love and Shame and Love

For a while now, I’ve been meaning to say something about Peter Orner‘s novel Love and Shame and Love, and not just about what a great read it is. I’d noticed the beautiful illustrations, starting with the cover art, as soon as I picked the book up, but it wasn’t until I asked Orner about them directly that I realized he’s the brother of Eric Orner, the indie artist best known for his syndicated comic strip, The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green.

“My whole life I’ve pretty much been in awe of what [Eric] is able to do with his pen,” Orner emailed me. “In some ways maybe my writing stories is a response what he does and I can’t do, which is make human beings and situations so alive on the page. With [Love and Shame and Love], though, I asked him specifically to not do people. I wanted there to be a certain starkness. When I think of where I’m from, Chicago, the midwest, I always think of the Lake Michigan in November, and the bare trees, and I asked Eric to capture this idea. Even when he wasn’t doing landscapes though, like his drawing of the bed, early in the book, his drawings really get to the heart of what the book is about, which is loss, trying to hold on to what is already gone by telling stories about it.”

“Because my brother and I have a kind of shared memories,” Orner adds, “he and I know things that no one else on the planet know… [So] I could say, ‘Hey, Eric, can you draw me a picture of that pizza place I got fired from when I was sixteen?’ and he could do it, without any questions. Same with the water crib drawing, which is probably my favorite. Those water cribs, these buildings that seem, when you are standing on the beach, to be floating on the surface of Lake Michigan—my brother, sitting in his studio in LA, was able to conjure them up exactly how they looked to us as kids.”

“Working with him was a great gift,” Orner concluded. “I only wish he got paid what those drawings were worth! He did it as a favor to me… But I’m his brother. What choice did he have?” Well, any of us who read Love and Shame and Love are fortunate that Orner was able to get such wonderful illustrations at such a good rate.

27 March 2012 | uncategorized |