In Don't Go Where I Can't Follow, Anders Nilsen collects mementos of his relationship with Cheryl Weaver. They were engaged, but she died of cancer before they could get married. It's a very personal set of photographs, letters, postcards, photographs, drawings, and ticket stubs. They were together about five years, starting in his late twenties. He was a promising comic book artist living in Chicago, and she was also an artist, working on experimental film and video. They met when they were both at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Strangely, Nilsen's book doesn't say much about Cheryl's life, or indeed his own. Rather, it's about the intersection of their lives. There's a long handwritten letter to one of his sisters about a camping trip that he and Cheryl took together; a comic book account of the day they tried to fly to France but didn't have a ticket; photographs from the actual trip to France, just before she found she had cancer; journal entries from her time in hospital and drawing of her as she lay in bed; and most moving of all, a beautifully drawn account of the large gathering of family and friends after her she died, by the lake, in which he scattered her ashes. It's a strange book to be a memorial to her, as he describes it in the Afterword, since it says so little about her. But it does powerfully convey some of the texture of their relationship, Nilsen's grief in losing her, and his love of her. It's an unusual and very touching book.
Anders Nilsen at The Holy Consumption
Anders Nilsen blog: the monolguist
Anders Nilsen at D&Q
About Anders Nilsen at Read Yourself RAW
Anders Nilsen on art at BBC Collective
Article on Anders and Cheryl at the Chicago Reader
© 2007 Christian Perring
Christian Perring, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York.