It’s so rare for a book that not only experiments with ideas, but the form and craft of writing itself. Janice Lee’s, “Daughter,” is probably one of the most unique and thought-provoking books I’ve read in recent memory. Angela and I were really excited about doing a video review inspired by the book. There are some pages where the paragraphs burst with fascinating ideas that make you question the whole of existence. Beautiful photos by Rochelle Ritchie Spencer accompany the pages in a compelling menagerie. We visited two aquariums to find the footage. We got so many interesting sea animals and the hardest part was actually getting live footage of an octopus.
The one we found was asleep and refused to move no matter what we tried. We proceeded to try to get footage for some of the other sections. Some lines of the book I liked were, “A meeting with a shadow, where fishers or dwellers of the deep look up at me out of the bright blue, harmless, but it draws me near and it is haunted.”In that sense, we tried to create layers through crab legs with people walking by.
And for the octopus I was inspired by this line, “There is a daughter who is an excavator of dead gods, slapping down a stone path, with a stick in one hand, a mirror in the other, a gatherer of worries and prayers, a jar full of whispers and echoes.” Those images are intensely compelling and when I saw a bunch of dead octopi on sale at a market, I knew what to capture as the book aligns itself in the image of an octopus, a theme that recurs throughout the book. You can read it from beginning to end, drop in and pick parts from the middle, or read it in reverse. “Daughter,” by Janice Lee, can best be described as an experience. And it’s unlike any other.