"It's really a very simple story. What happened was this: I met this girl and did a very stupid thing. I fell in love. Hard. I know that to some people that makes me an idiot and a loser. What can I say? They're right. I did some extremely foolish things; I'm the first to say it. And they've left me in jail and alone."
So begins one of the most compelling, emotionally charged, and affecting novels you are likely to read this year.
I've watched the documentary "FINDING VIVIAN MAIER" two-and-a-half times recently, and I can't get it out of my mind. The story is amazing. I wish I could dream up a plot like this: eccentric, reclusive woman who worked as a nanny for forty years dies and leaves behind a collection of her photographs, virtually unseen by anybody, that reveals her to be a photographer of remarkable talent, perhaps genius. More than 150,000 images of street life that she shot in New York, France, South America, Asia but mostly Chicago between the 1950s and 1970s were discovered when the contents of her storage unit was auctioned off, creating a sensation in the world of photography. Her work has invited comparison with many of the greats: Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Gary Winogrand, and Weegee.
She's also been called "the Emily Dickinson of Photography" -- a complete unknown who is recognized posthumously as a major artist. It's really extraordinary. But at least Emily Dickinson tried to get poems published; she wanted her poems to be known. There is no evidence that Vivian Maier ever tried to get her photographs out into the world. She kept her genius completely secret.