Jean Rolin's Savannah is an elegy of sorts to his close friend British fashion photographer, Kate Barry, retracing the trip they took together through the American South. Rolin's immense descriptive talent, his minute topographical detail, and his poetic, documentary writing come together in a work that looks as much to keep death at a distance as to confront it directly.
Savannah is a starkly tender and intimate recollection by French writer and journalist Jean Rolin of his friendship with British Vogue photographer Kate Barry. Both humorous and insightful, it in many ways serves as the epitaph to her life, which ended in a fall from her fourth-floor apartment in France. Barry was a very close friend of Jean Rolin, and together the two of them made a trip to the United States to retrace the footsteps of Flannery O'Connor, a Southern writer for whom Kate was deeply impassioned. In 2014, after Barry's death, Jean Rolin wanted to revisit this trip and reconstruct the memory of their journey in her absence.
As he recreates his roadtrip over the course of this book, which ends, fittingly, in Savannah, Rolin evokes landscapes, characters, and a uniquely Southern atmosphere that underscores the relentless passage of time. Juxtaposed against the themes of loss and mortality, Jean Rolin evokes with light touches the figure of Kate. His incredible descriptive talent shines through in vivid descriptions of the South; he approaches his travel memoir with the accuracy of a documentary and the vibrant writing of a poet, and his memories of Kate are preserved beneath the motif of sucking the marrow out of life and keeping death at bay.
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