Photograph: Courtesy of Christine Guibert

Peer Review Andrew Durbin, editor of frieze magazine, on the magnetic allure of writer and photographer Hervé Guibert.

Peer Review Andrew Durbin, editor of frieze magazine, on the magnetic allure of writer and photographer Hervé Guibert.

To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life

Who first warned me about Hervé Guibert? It must have been a good friend, someone who knew what would happen to me when I read this French novelist and photographer, whose books offer such frank analyses of ambition, love, desire, sex, disease and decay. His essays on photography, collected in Ghost Image (1981), and his late autobiographical novels, like To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life (1990), extend a firm grip once you find yourself within their reach, and never let you go. 

Guibert portrays his experience as a gay man in Mitterand’s France with an arresting, almost cinematic quality, developing characters in densely symbolic and richly layered narratives reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958). Like Hitchcock, Guibert masterfully weaves deception and revela...

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