Laia Abril has been exploring the subject of eating disorders for some years. Her two previous projects – A Bad Day which followed the struggles of a young Bulimic named Jo, and Thinspiration which took a look at the painful reality of online pro-anorexia advocates – were both visually arresting in their confronting of their subject matter. Now with her latest book, Abril moves away from that ‘shock factor’ and opts for a slower, more contemplative approach. The Epilogue is a quiet, intensely moving book that follows the story of the Robinson family in the aftermath of losing their 26-year-old daughter Mary Cameron Robinson, or “Cammy”, to bulimia.
Reconstructing Cammy’s life story through a revealing collection of fragments, Abril turns her gaze towards the ‘indirect victims’ of eating disorders – those who are left behind. The book follows an intuitive edit of photographs (both taken by Abril and found in old family albums), reproductions of documents (diary entries, letters, medical records), various objects and personal testimonies from Cammy’s family and friends.
The trend for reproductions of this sort of ephemera in books (think The Afronauts or Redheaded Peckerwood) is not uncommon, but rarely does it work quite as well as this. The book makes sense with or without the words, but the tactile experience of physically unfolding information and piecing the story together enriches the readers’ experience (which is likely to be nothing short of distress, if enough time is spent with the book). The Epilogue is a sobering read, but one worth persevering with for the faint and very human response it evokes. It is clear Abril created this book out of a strong desire to tell a story – a story with no beginning, middle and end, just small glimpses of life after loss – and a desire to tell it right.
– Joanna Cresswell
The Epilogue is published by Dewi Lewis. Copies of the book can be pre-ordered online or by contacting the Bookshop.