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The Address Book

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  378 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
"The Address Book," a key and controversial work in Sophie Calle's oeuvre, lies at the epicenter of many layers of reality and fiction. Having found a lost address book on the street in Paris, Calle copied the pages before returning it to its anonymous owner. She then embarked on a search to come to know this stranger by contacting listed individuals--in essence, following ...more
Hardcover, 104 pages
Published October 31st 2012 by Siglio (first published September 30th 2012)
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May 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Sophie Calle is a conceptual artist who performs investigations into the nature of privacy, secrecy, identity, what can be known and what is undiscoverable about other people--like a sociologist or anthropologist, but with a style and a dark curiosity and sense of illicit fun and breaking of trusts and taboos that no social scientist could muster, always with an air of danger and transgression which seems slightly sexual to me.

"The Address Book," concerns an address book the artist finds in Pa
Mar 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
a funny investigation into a man via his contacts. also an artful rendering of the "investigation" of a stranger through their "friends". calle became rather famous for this work in 1983, and siglio of los angeles re-issued it in 2012.
for hipsters and readers and art lovers.
ask yourself what YOUR friends would report about you, if someone, a stranger, would ask. would you be handsome? a dope? kind? weird?

this book makes a cameo in heti's 2012 novel How Should a Person Be? A Novel f
Robert Boyd
Dec 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
I was eager to read this book, a key piece of the art of Sophie Calle. The story is well-known: Calle finds an address book of a man named Pierre D; in an attempt to get to know him, she contacts people in the address book at random and asks them to talk to her about Pierre D.; these interviews are published in Liberation; Pierre D. sees the interviews and is outraged at this violation of his privacy, and shuts the project down; a deal is made that these interviews will never be republished unti ...more
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Update 3/02/16: I adore this book even more on the reread

Original review:
This is one of those concepts I wish I’d come up with first.

Sophie Calle, while walking one day, happened upon a man’s address book that had fallen in the road. She picked it up, copied the pages, returned it to the owner, Pierre, and then proceeded to call and meet with the contacts in Pierre’s address book with the intention of piecing together an impression of his identity.


If this sounds like a total invasion of priv
Dec 18, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2012
Sophie Calle found an address book on the street in Paris. She returned the book to its owner, but not before copying the contents. She proceeds to call through the address book and ask each person to meet with her, explaining the address book but refusing to reveal the owner's identity unless they meet with her in person. She is, essentially, creating a portrait in negative space of the man based on the impressions of his friends and acquaintances. And it's creepy. Like, really creepy. Especial ...more
Maggiemay (Eugenia)
Jun 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
Well - there goes 40 minutes of my life that I'll never get back!!!!
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I learned about the artist, Sophie Calle, while reading a book called "Flaneuse" about - you guessed it - women walking cities. One of the women the author profiled was Calle, who has created art out of walking and following people and documenting it in writing and photography (she followed one man from France to Italy!). This book isn't as much about the "flaneusing" but tells the story of Calle finding an address book. She mailed it back to the owner but before she did she photocopied the cont ...more
May 19, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club
The GOOD: This was chosen for my book club, and provoked an extremely interesting and thoughtful discussion!

The BAD: I did not like the author's abrupt writing style, nor did I appreciate her obvious attempt to increase the artistic factor to make up for the very sparse text. I found her endeavor highly inappropriate and her lack of appreciation for that made me very unconfortable with the whole premise and exercise.

The UGLY: I really regret plunking down the $25 for this book which took me les
Robin J
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Sophie Calle found an address book lost on a Paris street and she contacted many of the people listed in the book to create a portrait of the owner--a man she never directly names. The different impressions related by the various friends, colleagues and lovers of this man form a fractured but fascinating picture. Ultimately an interesting voyeuristic experience--the sophisticated French version of reality TV--that is pleasurable and engaging.
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I agree with other commenters that this was creepy and voyeuristic in a way, but I choose to give this high marks as it is one of few books I have read which mentions Lapland as a place worth devoting one's time to.
Delia Rainey
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this in one sitting. After finding a random address book on the ground, Sophie Calle decides to piece together a portrait of its owner by calling the contacts in the book, interviewing them about their friend. Pierre D. becomes embodied through dialogue of those closest to him, ex-lovers, ex-best-friends, colleagues, and those who can only remember slight visuals. A risky project, a project that questions how we are remembered, and how the views of those around us define us, despite how w ...more
Katie Anne
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
How do we understand an individual? How can we define them through others? In this small experiment, Calle works to do just that through a lost address book. Slim, haunting, it's a gorgeous little work with big ideas.
Feb 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
After finding a lost address book on the street, Sophie Calle reaches out to all its contacts, meeting friends, strangers, and acquaintances of its mysterious owner, Pierre D. The shocking realization that this book is a collection of a non-fiction serial publications reminded me that pining curiosity still exists in the real world. I thought of my own childhood, when I could not resist walking my block without shoes, hiding dimes in the ring slots of my jewelry box, burying small toys at the ba ...more
Amy Paget
Jun 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Address Book, by Sophie Calle 808.8 C159A 2012. Like you, I am a busy person, so I am always interested in ‘little’ books…and this is one! Measuring less than 5.5” x 7.5” and weighing in at 9 oz. the 104 page title tells an interesting story. In 1983, journalist Sophie Calle found a personal address book lost on a Paris Street. She decided to contact the addressees and learn a little bit from each about the owner. Her written accounts of these encounters with friends, family and colleagues—j ...more
Lisa Guidarini
The premise is writer Sophie Calle came upon a lost, red diary with a black spine lying on a street. Investigating it, she got the idea of contacting the people whose names were listed in the book, then setting up interviews in order to find out more about the owner, to re-create a portrait of him.

Some agreed to meet her, some didn't. He turned out to be somewhat a Bohemian, 30ish man who worked in the film industry. He lived alone, wasn't involved in any romantic relationships and was describe
Dec 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
The Address Book documents Calle's efforts to learn all about a stranger by interviewing his friends and acquaintances after stumbling across his lost address book.

The book offers a very interesting premise. Unfortunately, I feel like Calle didn't take it far enough. She was too afraid to step on anyone's toes. It also would have been rather interesting if she had actually gone so far as to meet the man, in the end. I also felt like most of the many photos included had no relation to the text--
Christopher Fox
Nov 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Leaving aside the ethics of what Calle did in using a found address book to snoop into the owner's life, this is a slender volume made even more ephemeral by the filler pages (blank or with a photograph that seemingly has nothing to do with the text). While a rather quizzical portrait of the owner does emerge from the recollections of a few of his address book entries, it's by no means complete. One feels a little like a voyeur (in the unseemly sense) and I felt somewhat as though I'd wasted my ...more
Marta Boksenbaum
Jan 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is captivating in a voyeuristic way, reading about a woman interviewing a man's friends and acquaintances from his address book she found on the street. As a reader I went between feeling strange and guilty, that the author was a stalker, and being completely fascinated by the various accounts of this one man. I wish I could see how these entries were originally published in Liberation magazine, it must have been even more intriguing to the reader who had to wait for the next edition t ...more
Apr 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this because I love journals and diaries, and address books fall into that category, especially the hard copies where you write in someone's name, number, erase their address when they move. Calle investigates the owner of the lost address book by contacting his contacts.
I can only imagine the invasion of privacy we'd feel today, but I'm not so young I can't remember looking people up in the phone book. Calle's contacts were talkative and interesting in their own right and even in this s
Dec 07, 2012 marked it as to-read
Shelves: to-read-soon
Whoa, this sounds cool. Rec'd thus by the fabulous Word bookstore in Greenpoint:

For fans of Miranda July's particular style of fascination and inquiry, this book details Sophie Calle's unique project: she found an address book in Paris and copied all of the contacts before returning it. She then set out to get to know the owner through the lens of his acquaintances and loved ones.
Apr 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
The type of book you can read in an hour at a coffee shop and feel pure bliss while doing it. Calle finds an address book lying on the streets of Paris and calls each person in it in an attempt to get to know the owner of the book before she sends it back to him. It has pictures, is often written in stream-of-consciousness, and really is a novel idea.
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
In the 1980's writer Sophie Calle found the address book of a man named Pierre on a Paris street. She proceeded to contact the people in the book in order to get to know this man and create a profile of him, which she published as a serial in a magazine. This is that serial collected together and published as a book.

I thought the concept was interesting, but I found the execution a bit dull.
Sep 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Fantastic premise (woman finds address book on street, goes to visit everyone in it to find out more about the owner) though the execution gets a bit boring. Works more as a piece of art than as a compelling book.
Mar 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: character
An interesting perspective/take on character development, I'll keep this on my shelves for future reference. As a standalone book, it left me wanting more, but it felt a little more complete when I remembered that it was published originally as installments in a magazine.
Robin Rousu
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Very French, very short. Only if you are in the mood to mull over the nature of identity and the subjectivity of information. Earnest, brave, perhaps a little pretentious. Impeccably crafted. Recommended.
May 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Interesting concept, but in the end I I wanted more... I might have been more fulfilled if it was approached as a story/book with a stronger narrative rather than an piecemeal art project. Nevertheless, well worth the read.
Sep 09, 2014 rated it liked it
An interesting project, but pretty nosey, esp. for France. I found it fascinating how similar all the accounts of the unknown subject were, and how loyal his people were. I was also intrigued by the conflict between art and manners, both of which are aspects of culture.
The Art Book Review
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
" see the potential within her to break the construct of the project, for this to go totally off the rails and that tension is perhaps the best part."

Read Sarah Williams' full review of "The Address Book" here:
Mohamad Alaliwi
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I simply like it - I like the end the most. The French touch in this book reminds me of the famous French film Amelie; similar concept, similar story.. Ahh, it looks like I'm in love with the French lifestyle!
Peter Mulholland
Dec 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Really weird, borderline creepy, but interesting.
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Sophie Calle is a French writer, photographer, installation artist, and conceptual artist. Calle's work is distinguished by its use of arbitrary sets of constraints, and evokes the French literary movement of the 1960s known as Oulipo. Her work frequently depicts human vulnerability, and examines identity and intimacy. She is recognized for her detective-like ability to follow strangers and invest ...more
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