Saturday, October 23, 2010
what is America reading?
On my way back from lecturing on "Books in Photographs" at Vanderbilt, it seemed only fitting to photograph books. Unfortunately these are very static books - I was intrigued by the person who asked me if there were any photographs of books in motion. I instantly started to think (in vain) of photographs of people hurling books in fury or frustration across rooms - though there are probably plenty of Victorian photographs where sitters forgot that the volumes they were holding were designed to help them keep their head or hands still, and turned the page, causing a pale blur. Or he might have meant books that are inadvertently in motion - that is, they are being held by people in trains or omnibuses (or airplanes). Or he might have meant mobile libraries - of the kind that used to deliver books to us in rural Cumberland in the 1950s (I was pleased to find this picture of a 1920 Ford - Britain's first mobile library - less pleased to find that in June, Cumbria decided to cut its mobile library fleet from 6 to 3, in order to save eighty thousand pounds a year).
But these books are static - indeed, I was pleased not to see the Tea Party Manifesto, in its tasteful, patriotic cover (rather like a mock-vintage teatowel) move off its shelf - though I have, on this trip, seen at least one woman - an intelligent-looking woman, too - immersed in a volume by Glenn Beck. I noted its prominently displayed presence, though, with a very sinking heart.