A lonely traveler on the edge of civilization documents the empty and desolate corners of America where no one is looking.
In the classic Cannery Row, Steinbeck describes his characters as “whores, pimps, gamblers and sons of bitches,” which he says could just as easily mean “saints and angels and martyrs and holy men.” This multimedia experiment, originally published as a spiral-bound art project by Little Brown Mushroom, attempts to capture moments in the life of a similar creature, starting with a hymn to his tribe. “Here’s to the prisoners of disenchantment, the lost, broken men bullied and inoculated against hope as children and eventually immunized against all notice or attention,” Zellar writes. “To the lost boys and invisible men. To those who have been carved small by the glaciers of time and memory. To the fundamentally amnesiac, nurturers of the selective oblivion of the neglected. To the men who keep secrets even from themselves. To the ceaselessly retreating armies of the lonely. To the men who play hide and seek.” The book posits itself as a record of the viewpoint of one Lester B. Morrison, a lost soul who lives on the outskirts of Minneapolis, taking snapshots of seemingly random objects: the outside of a rural casino; an overturned semi; a church in the snow. There’s a storyline but it’s nearly inconsequential to the presentation of the story, a poetic attempt not to fully form a life but only to capture moments of memory and objects of counterintuitive beauty. There’s a mild debate over whether Lester B. Morrison is real or not, dead or not, fiction or fact, but it’s a moot point. In the framework of this delicately curated art project, Lester becomes Schrodinger’s cat, alive or dead, merely occupying a moment in time. The prose is crisp and thoughtful and well-matched to the photos that show the side of America to which even most Americans never give a second thought.
Snapshots taken by one of the world’s beautiful losers.