I’m working on a presentation on Algerian-born author Leïla Sebbar and how she may be using her collections as a source of memory hoarding. Certain objects recur in many of her texts such as postcards of the Odalisque, Parker pens, Singer sewing machines, and so on. I just read today on a French culture (www.evene.fr) site that she collects tobacco boxes because they represent a generational gap: “les pères algériens chiquaient, leurs fils fument des cigarettes” (‘Algerian fathers chewed, their sons smoke cigarettes.’)
In Sebbar’s 2004 book Mes Algéries en France (My Algerias in France), she presents other visual collections that I can imagine pinned on the walls of her office or in front of her in her work space. (She photographs the snuff boxes for this book.) When I opened the book today to take a few snapshots of her pages, a few of my own collected trinkets fell out: a used iTunes gift card, a makeshift bookmark leftover from a Target ad, and a promotional card from Delta with “Destination Paris” complete with Eiffel Tower facts on the back. Sebbar is so easy to judge, yet I obviously have a soft spot for her object fetishes.