John Freyer personifies an American paradox with his book All My Life For Sale. He feels the need to collect, consume, and accumulate, and yet also desires a sense of unburdened freedom and the ability to travel at will. It's a complex issue to tackle in any setting, especially in a coffee table book. In 2000, feeling as though his possessions were keeping him tied to one place, Freyer started a web project in which he sold nearly all of his belongings on Ebay.

After everything was sold, he went to visit the highest bidders.

Freyer has a background in zine publishing--along with snowboarding, filmmaking, photography, and now book printing at the University of Iowa, where he is a Bodine Fellow in the Art Department. For Sale, he chose to lay out an item per page with a large color photograph of the item alongside the initial description. There's also an update of who bought it, for how much, and where it is now.

The real joy in the book comes from looking at what Freyer sold. The items range from mundane to remarkable, both abstract and tangible: ice cube trays; Christmas gifts for his family; his birthday party; a roadtrip with him. He audaciously sells incredibly personal things with heavy sentimental value, gifts from close friends and family members: a ring given to him by one of his best friends; a wooden spoon handmade by his grandfather; a pair of socks borrowed from a friend.

Freyer does some good work here, but unfortunately never really takes the time to reflect on what it all means. He unintentionally proves that the American paradox is inescapable by saying that his journey--which included picking up new stuff along the way--made him realize he really just wanted a place to stay a while. He never articulates why this is the case, and doesn't seem interested in finding out. As he says at one point in the book, "I always come up with ideas for projects that I can't really find a way to back up conceptually."

And that's why this project is a coffee table book. WILL HELFRICH