November 1, 2007

Secret Obsessed: A New PostSecret Book Reviewed

Print More

Perhaps, like myself, you jumped on the bandwagon back in 2005 with Frank Warren’s first publication of a collection of the country’s secrets in PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives. Or maybe, like millions of others, you’ve discovered Warren’s blog at http://post­, showcasing weekly compilations of “Sunday Secrets.”
Like Warren, you’ve discovered that the secrets are everywhere, from the scrawled note found inside a borrowed library book to the assortment that has been gathering on the back of one of the girls’ bathroom stalls in Williard Straight Hall. For those of you, however, that have not yet been introduced to the growing phenomenon of anonymous admission, Warren’s new book, A Lifetime of Secrets, comes highly recommended.
In its initial stage, PostSecret began as an exhibition in Washinton DC’s Artomatic in 2004, an art event with a focus on multimedia art. Warren put out a call for the public to anonymously submit their secrets to his Maryland home on a homemade postcard. He specified that the secrets were to be completely truthful and never have been told to anyone ever before. What he proceeded to receive reflected the diversity of a nation, revealing hidden fantasies, habits, criminal acts and confessions of love.
I picked up A Lifetime of Secrets, Warren’s fourth published collection, just this weekend. Sitting on the floor between stacks of books in Borders, my friends and I flipped through the pages of confessions, laughing, grimacing and even expressing how some secrets related directly to our own lives. Despite covering the book’s content in only an hour, we bought copies of it to take home with us and add to our collections.
As an avid lover of most of Warren’s collections, I found A Lifetime of Secrets to be a wonderful addition of his previous art installments. Despite the fact that Warren is working with the individual artwork of others, the arrangement of the compilation of secrets found in A Lifetime of Secrets serve as Warren’s own artistic piece. Sifting through thousands of public confessions, he finds a way to incorporate the works into a loose narrative that is moving, comedic and even sometimes tragic. The beauty comes not only from Warren’s organized collection, but also from the message he conveys of understanding and acceptance.
I cannot suggest picking up a copy of A Lifetime of Secrets without urging an interested reader to invest the time to page through Warren’s three other collections as well as his blog. Despite their sometimes hefty prices (and weight in both the literal and figurative sense), the books differ greatly from a novel that one reads once and then lends to a friend. Aside from checking weekly blog updates, I often go back to the older PostSecret books, rediscovering secrets that hold new relevance in my life.