Not since the Choose Your Own Adventure series has reading been so interactive and fun. You Are The Friction, one of the year’s best reads, is an anthology of collaborative short fiction and illustration. To create each unique piece of work, twelve writers were asked to write stories and twelve different artists illustrated each one – a picture for each short story. That in and of itself would make a great book, but there’s more! The same twelve artists drew a separate illustration featuring an all-together different subject matter. Then the twelve writers were paired with a picture, looked at the image and “illustrated” each with a story. The result is twenty-four stories and twenty-four illustrations, all with their own tales to tell.

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Frictionless work runs the risk of being bland and boring. There is agreement and there is balance. There is no room for discussion or a difference in views. But you won’t find that in this collection of short stories and illustrations. The beauty of this experience is that the reader literally becomes “the friction” between the story and the illustration. It’s a treat to discover what the pictures reveal about the stories and vice versa. You interpret the nuances. You give meaning to the connections. The first time through the book is an adventure. When you read the book again, you’ll find new inspiration, humor and truth. What was in the mind of each artist when they looked at or read the picture or story of their partner and sat to create their own interconnecting collaborative piece? A picture by itself doesn’t generate any friction. The same goes for the story. It is only with the reader’s interpretation and unique perspective that these two art forms make a work of art.

You Are The Friction is the fourth collaborative effort of Jez Burrows (a designer based in San Francisco) and Lizzy Stewart (an illustrator in London). The way these pieces flow together is amazing. Clearly they were created separately (those were the rules), but magic happens when talented writers and artists come together. What’s connecting each story and picture? The artistic mind, the creative spirit, the friction that is the reader. That is the real connection.

Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin

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