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review 2019-12-24 18:56
Colors of Confinement
Colors of Confinement: Rare Color Photographs of Japanese American Incarceration in World War II (Documentary Arts and Culture) - Eric L. Muller,Bill Manbo

A fascinating insider's look at Heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming. I first looked at all the images and then went back and read the essays (the last one was dry and didn't hold my attention, so I didn't finish it). I found it helpful to have an idea of the scope and subjects of the images when reading the essays. Some background knowledge of the history of Japanese people in America and their internment during WWII will probably enhance the reading experience of this book, though this isn't a bad place to start learning about internment either. 

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review 2019-11-01 06:20
Surrendered Stories with photographs - Courageous creativity
Surrendered Stories: with photographs - Kristin Fouquet



Surrendered Stories with photographs is a slim volume of four well-written and clever short stories embracing comedy, drama, tragedy, and suspense.


Cocteau’s Ransom is a humorous tale about an ill-conceived dognapping.


Nights at the Vestige is a poignant story about loneliness underscored by the protagonist's predilection for 1930s jazz and silent movies.


A tragic death and how a family deals with the aftermath is the theme in Return to Camp Bon Temps.


Fouchet leaves the best for last. Margaux’s Understudy is a suspenseful story about love lost and how it cannot be reenacted.


Author Kirstin Fouquet uses a crisp, sparse style with minimal description leaving much to the readers' imagination. Characters are developed through action and dialogue never impeding the well-paced plot.


Though the stories are expertly crafted beginning in the middle of the action, building to the climax and each culminating with a satisfying ending, they lacked impact. The intensity of life and death, real or as a metaphor is absent.


Fouquet’s knowledge of the music of the Jazz Age, the silent movie era and classic stage productions is prodigious and enhances the narrative of Nights at the Vestige and Margaux’s Understudy respectively.


Embedded with the stories are nine black and white photographs. It’s apparent a good deal of care and creativity went into the production of this book including layout and design, reproduction and placement of the photographs, typography and even the choice of fonts.


Though I felt the images enhanced the book, it was a stretch to see how some of the photographs related to the text. Despite these few shortcomings, the approach shows courageous creativity.


- Reviewed by Rod Raglin for Readers’ Favorite,








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review 2019-08-29 11:17
400 Photographs, Ansel Adams
Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs - Andrea G. Stillman,Ansel Adams

So Ansel Adams is widely regarded as the pre-eminent photographer of the North American landscape and that view is amply justified by this book spanning his entire career from amateur teen to elder statesman of the photographic world. More surprisingly it also demonstrates that Adams was also capable of great work in the genres of protraiture, architecture and macros, too.


The book is organised by decade and it is interesting to note that Adams attained technical mastery before he fully grasped compositional mastery. (He openly admitted this and it's clear in the book.) Now my photographic skills are insignificant compared to many a dedicated amateur, let alone one of history's greatest, but the bit I find interesting and rewarding is the framing of a picture. Technicalities bore me. It's encouraging to find that even a genius such as Adams surely was had to actively learn how to do it.


Anyway, great book if you want an overview of Adams' personal (as opposed to commercial 'gun for hire') work.

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review 2019-08-26 10:48
Whimsical, touching and atmospheric stories and photographs
Surrendered Stories: with photographs - Kristin Fouquet

I received a paperback review copy of this book from the publisher. That has not influenced my feedback.

I was intrigued by the description of this book, by the author’s previous work, and by the fact that this volume of four of her stories includes twenty-four of her own black and white photographs, which illustrate and create an aesthetic dialogue with the content and the feel of the stories. I was also intrigued by the title and my curiosity was answered as soon as I read the opening quote in this slim but handsome volume: A piece of writing is never finished. You just surrender. (Carter Monroe). I love this quote because, as I write as well, I am familiar with the feeling that a story is never quite as good as it could be, and it is never totally finished. In my opinion, though, these stories are perfect as they are.

The four stories are very different, but the images and the writing style turn this book into a unique experience.

I’ll share a few comments about each individual story, but I’ll try to avoid spoilers.

“Cocteau’s Ransom”, written in the third person, is a story of a couple who believe they’ve found a way to make some money by kidnapping a dog, but they have made a mistake (an understandable one, for sure, but still…) A fun and humorous story (although it might upset animal lovers).

“The Vestige” has a touch of nostalgia (in fact, at first I thought it was a historical piece but I soon realised I was wrong), plenty of atmosphere, lovely characters, and it is also a sweet and gentle love (?) story that will enchant fans of the cinema experience and enthusiasts of old movies.

In “Return to Camp Bon Temps” we meet Martine, a girl who’s deeply traumatised due to something that happened last summer.  The story, which is also narrated in the third person (all three first stories are), takes place in the summer camp where the members of her extended family meet every year, and each person has its own role to play. Martin, her father, is a larger than life character who seems to always get his own way, but things are not as they seem to be, and I loved the father-daughter relationship and their moment of truth.

“Margaux’s understudy”, narrated in the first person by a young woman who lands a somewhat odd first-job, has touches of the fairy and/or gothic tale (it made me think of Bluebeard), of old movies and movie stars of the golden era (Sunset Boulevard, for example); it includes fragments of diaries and quotes from plays; it is very atmospheric (and the photographs are gorgeous), and is a fairly whimsical but also touching love story and the story of an obsession. Oh, and one of its characters is a fabulous parrot called Ayo.

As I wrote this review I realised that if I had to come up with a possible theme that links all the stories, it would have to be “appearances can be deceptive”. In these stories, both characters and readers misjudge people and situations, and the twists and surprises come when we learn the truth.

These stories, mostly set in New Orleans, are perfect for reading during short breaks; they create an immersive atmosphere without going into excessive detail, and are ideal for people looking for an engaging interlude between long and demanding reads. I look forward to following this author’s career, and I’ll be sure to visit her website and learn more about her work as a photographer. A great collection.

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text 2019-08-24 21:49
Reading progress update: I've read 100 out of 440 pages.
Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs - Andrea G. Stillman,Ansel Adams

The book is arranged by decade: 1930s show a clear large improvement over the 1920s.

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