Book of the Year: ‘Riley & His Story’ by Monica Haller

Posted in Photobooks (general), Videos by Alec Soth on December 28, 2009

Soon after posting my Top 10 list, I learned about Monica Haller’s book, Riley and his story. Me and my outrage. You and us.’ Published in November by Onestar press/Fälth & Hässler, the book consists of hundreds of photographs by Riley Sharbonno, an army nurse who served at Abu Ghraib prison from 2004-2005. But it’s Monica Haller’s stunning methodology for organizing these images that makes this the book of the year.

→With only a thousand copies in print (and most of them in Europe), I’d recommend purchasing this pronto before it sells out.

Since Monica happens to live in Minnesota, I quickly contacted her. She graciously agreed to an impromptu interview in my bunker library.

To see this video a little bit larger, go to the LBM A/V page.
For more information about Riley and His Story, go here.

9 Responses

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  1. David Goldes said, on December 28, 2009 at 8:58 am

    Thanks for introducing your readers to Monica’s extraordinary work. Instead of a tax break I think every American household should have a copy of her book in their living room!

  2. Karolina Karlic said, on December 28, 2009 at 9:10 am

    Looks amazing, well written!

  3. Mike E. said, on December 29, 2009 at 8:56 am

    Thanks for alerting me to this, Alec. Looks amazing. Good to be reading you again! Happy New Year.

  4. JS said, on December 29, 2009 at 11:48 am

    “I’d like to share this with you, but it turns out I have no idea how to conduct or edit a video interview.”
    I like that part — even the video isn’t exactly unedited…

  5. Doug mcgoldrick said, on December 29, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Alec great book I’m going to order one right away.

  6. jo said, on December 31, 2009 at 3:10 am

    the art direction for the interview is glib to say the least

  7. bob black said, on January 1, 2010 at 4:51 pm


    MORE MORE please of ‘from the alec library’…..

    though u sure aint brian lamb or david frost, i love the bunker couch/bed…


    the work you’re bringing…

    will hunt down the book next week :)))


    p.s. when my book is published, i will gladly volunteer for the bunker bed/interview :)))

    cheers ;)))

  8. Dallas Arts Salon said, on January 3, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Where are you buy the book in the US? Thanks.

  9. David Comdico said, on February 21, 2010 at 7:54 am

    The posturing of the book’s text leaves me chagrined. The metaphor invoked, of artistic power, the book as deployment, the artist’s intervention substituting for military commandment, is a lovely fantasy, not very unlike the need to invent terrorists who hate our freedoms. It’s so pretty to think that the fine arts could equal the power of the martial arts. But I’m left feeling that Riley’s service is somewhat forced, inducted, that the commander in chief is overreaching, that her in-expressiveness is, dare I say it, Bush-like, that the whole exercise is a mirror, a repetition of the initial acting out, of a childish belief in the power of one’s own fairy tales.

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