The (Sometimes Obsessive) Allure of Books with Photos

The (Sometimes Obsessive) Allure of Books with Photos

I arrived home late last night after a delayed flight back from Maine, and I immediately went to the computer to rustle up a copy of Richard Misrach’s On The Beach. I’ve been waiting to buy this book for months; primarily because whenever I stare at it in a store I am either not in a moneyed way, or am far from my house. And that thing is Big and Heavy. This time it was the “far from my house” excuse, as I saw it in Portland at Books, Etc. So home I come, and I ring up a trusty website to make the $85 purchase. Which seems absolutely bargain basement for what you’re getting, which is a 16×20 book with 80 pages of staggeringly beautiful photographs.

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Ok, so this is all well and good, but this book now seems to be UNAVAILABLE. I tried Aperture, I tried Strand, I tried PhotoEye, I tried Dashwood, Vincent Borrelli, and many others. It either wasn’t in stock, or was being sold used and damaged, or was a hugely expensive signed edition. So now I started to panic. It’s true how you want things more when you can’t have them. I now had like ten windows open on my computer, and was feeling pain over all the OTHER photo books I was supposed to have purchased long ago, but which are no longer available.

I then checked my inbox, and had an email from an “Ann Furthermore” (clever!) telling me about a new photo book blog, and I felt like a failure. I did not have the books I needed to have. Now it was 2am, and I had my credit card, and I made up for lost time. Here are the purchases I made:

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I woke up this morning, still thinking that I’d rather be in debt than not get the books I need. So I called the store in Maine, and they’re shipping me the last copy in stock of On the Beach. Phew.

Anyone else have this affliction, or is it just me? Now I just need some Taryn Simon, some Elger Esser, and Nein, Oncle.

See good book reviews of On the Beach here and here. And here are some images:

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Misrach was influenced in part by the poses he saw when people fell
from buildings on 9/11, and also by the apocalyptic (and really eerie)
movie On the Beach, which I saw with my father way before I should have been seeing a movie about nuclear war.

But Ava Gardner was hot.

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There are 4 comments for this article
  1. stephen z at 2:47 pm

    no no no! i kick my own ass all the time over this. i remember seeing a first edition of Bill Burke’s “I want to take picture” in the early 90’s at the Ansel Adams Center book store in San Francisco (r.i.p.) and being amazed by it. i was a poor student and couldn’t afford it at the time and when i was finally able to buy it, it was gone. late last year i found the Twin Palms Press re-issue and this time didn’t hesitate. it’s not the signed slip cased edition i originally saw but it still gave me the same thrill as when i first saw it.

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