Alan Rossman’s Seven Photographs is an artfully crafted novel that explores a friendship that helps two men move beyond loss and grief.
When the Conway family loses a member, husband and father Owen Conway finds comfort sharing his sorrow with a support group and taking walks around his suburban neighborhood. “Walking,” Owen reveals in his first-person narration,”is how I got to know Wilson Lacy.”
Wilson is a former scientist and educator. His wife has left him; his grown children have their own lives, and he remains alone, adrift in a house darkened by memories. As Owen slowly gains entry into Wilson’s reclusive domain, he recognizes how winter’s gloom intensifies Wilson’s depression. To that end, Owen urges Wilson to find solace in his new friend’s montage of mesmerizing photographs, urging him to embark on a “visual literacy” journey that involves interpreting and reflecting on the photos. Ultimately, peeling back layers of such moments in time reveals important life lessons.
Rossman’s poetic writing paints with words, from the “sensory jambalaya” that draws Owen to Wilson’s garage, where he restores classic cars, to his description of the photos covering Wilson’s den wall “like small patches of grace.” Portions of the storyline that occur in the Northeast, where Wilsons’ family members reside, are displayed like a play, distinguishing them from the central action in the Chicago area.
Wilson’s photographic memoir, a gift to Owen at book’s end, rounds out a storyline that gains forward perspective by revisiting the past. As part of Wilson’s visual literacy quest, Owen has encouraged Wilson to write essays about the photos. Wilson’s pieces—of a father holding his infant son, a loving couple on Cape Cod, and more—are voiced in an intricate, analytical style exploring the delicate fractures that shape lives.
This exploratory tale weaves love, loss, tragedy and triumph into a captivating allegory. Like a photograph exposed in contrasting light and shadow, Rossman’s brilliant revelation lightens the weight of sadness through this unexpected friendship.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.