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Paul's June 2015 pick
Hold Still, by Sally Mann
This fascinating memoir explores the charged territory of familial & cultural history, and how their intersection can both, or sometimes alternately, enlighten and enflame. While evoking place as a source of comfort and cage, Mann also manages to extrapolate meaning from even the most mundane of experiences, in addition to the most gothic or memorable. Photographs of southern landscapes juxtaposed with those of domesticity. There's suicide & homicide & fear & fearlessness & the simple pleasures of swimming and horseback riding. It was her quotidian photographs of her children, of course, some of which included them nude, that first catapulted her to recognition of both the artistic & notorious kind. But seeing the whole panorama of her memories serves as the perfect context from which to understand her art as documentarian rather than provocateur. Mann demonstrates an ability to pluck just the right image to convey her life's arc with words as memorably, as indelibly, as she has often done with her camera. There is a heft to the combination that leaves the reader reassuringly, surprisingly, ecstatically buoyant.
Hold Still, by Sally Mann.
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