Author Michele Yee reading at November 21st book launch in Orchard Lyceum Gallery, Toronto. INQUIRER/Patty Rivera


After That August: A photographic memoir of love lost, regained

By: Patty Rivera@inquirerdotnet US Bureau / Toronto Correspondent / 12:21 PM November 29, 2019


TORONTO, Ontario — “I used to be scared. Scared that I might fail or say the wrong thing. Scared to look like a fool. Scared to sound like an idiot, San Francisco-based artist-photographer-writer Michele Yee posted on her Instagram early last spring.

“And because of that, I never acted on those ideas. I might’ve even become comfortable with being someone who always had tons of ideas, as if just having the ideas were enough.”

But she stepped out of her comfort zone. Made a leap to the unknown. Pursued her KickStarter campaign to launch her first book, After That August, a photographic memoir of the years she spent nursing a broken heart and falling in love at a time she didn’t want to fall in love.

At her recent book launch in Toronto, the award-winning artist said she was glad she “stopped stealing” from herself:

“If I’d done things the way I used to do to them (which was to do nothing at all), I would’ve certainly guaranteed myself failure. I spent so much time waiting. Waiting for someone else to act on my ideas, waiting so that I could say with indignation: ‘That was my idea!’ and then go on to act as if I’d been wronged, as if something had been stolen from me.’”

Being a perfectionist has its drawbacks, she says. “I lacked the willingness to see where those ideas might take me.”

In two of the four years that she wrote her book, Yee lived in three cities and two countries, and traveled to as many more as a photographer on work assignment.

Reading After That August for the first time can give the reader a sense of being afloat or in flight.

While the main protagonists act out their despair or angst or tension in words said obliquely or in-your-face, the words left unsaid cut the most. The ambivalence and the ambiguity between past and present states of mind keep the reader in thrall for the next image and page.

The little hints and foreshadowing as the days progress will keep haunting and taunting the eye and the mind. It is almost like a meditation that one could do briskly if one were in a hurry to get to the end, or to savor page by page in slow mode.