Mia Kirshner

Celebrities love misery, or at least they flock like flies to refugee camps and famine zones when the cameras are running. To her credit, however, actress Mia Kirshner has taken a more deliberate, less paparazzi-infested approach to global suffering in I Live Here (Pantheon, $29.95). The granddaughter of European Jews who fled the Holocaust, she traveled under the radar in Chechnya, Malawi, Burma, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, filling her journals with notes, interviews, and photos. Then she enlisted several artists, essayists, and designers to transform her diaries into four separate collage books contained in a handsome fold-out box. (J.B. MacKinnon is her principal co-author.) Each volume retains handmade traces of her vivid, scribbled impressions. (Also included in the Chechnya section is a typically excellent stand-alone graphic novella by Joe Sacco, who traveled with Kirshner.) This isn’t immersion reportage in the manner of Philip Gourevitch or William T. Vollmann, and Kirshner—the daughter of a journalist—doesn’t cast herself as a hardened pro. Instead there’s an informed newbie’s enthusiasm and dismay as she encounters young prostitutes, child soldiers, IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons), and AIDS-infected prisoners. Best known for her TV work on The L Word and 24, Kirshner is here essentially a series editor on a highly collaborative project with, no surprise, an online component and foundation arm. And when it comes to cataloging all the suffering in the world, as she surely knows, four volumes is only a start. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 624-6600, www.i-live-here.com and www.elliottbaybook.com. $5. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

Mon., Oct. 27, 7:30 p.m., 2008

 
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