Meet Me At Père Lachaise


A Book With Soul


“Right away with Anna Eriksson and Mason Bendewald’s arresting book Meet Me at Pere Lachaise, I got the sense that I was on an intimate afternoon jaunt together with the author and photographer. Hence the title. The book isn’t called “Go Do Exactly What I Did at Pere Lachaise,” or “Here’s a Map, Have at It Buddy.” It’s an experience shared, a walk along just one pathway trod by two people who obviously had life-changing experiences getting lost together in the famous cemetery. It says as much in the book’s Foreword: “Feel free to make your own way, and even enjoy getting lost there.” A trip through Pere Lachaise is a trip back in time, but just like going forward in time, the steps are my own to take, the experiences my own to interpret.

And so, with that in mind, the book is an incredibly rare gem: A knowledgeable collection of terse but robust facts about the amazing residents of Pere Lachaise, organized to be suitable for a tour, yet seasoned with inimitable personal anecdotes that briefly alight like a Psyche butterfly. It’s a brief dance of two living souls among thousands that have passed. In other words, life.
To wit: the Paris landlady of Eriksson and Bendewald whose uncle was the culprit who stole Maria Callas’ ashes. Or the author hearing the growling otherworldly intonations of Jim Morrison while paying respects at his oft-defiled grave. Or the photographer paying homage first by kneeling at the foot of the monument to slain young journalist Victor Noir, and then again by leaving his corroded copper monument as one of the only subjects in the entire book printed in color.
These are not the sterile monologues of a paid docent or the rote recitations of a bored tour guide. These are not stock photographs taken by sanctioned lenses. These are not entries in an academic encyclopedia. These are the living, breathing experiences of two artists sharing their passion for witnessing the frailty of human legacy, and doing their small part to keep the names of those departed souls on the lips of the living a little while longer.
I can think of no more appropriate way to give life to those passed souls than by being alive in their presence. And by encouraging me to do the same.

Miles H.
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