HERE ON THE ISLAND by Charles Pratt


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The Island, seven miles off the Maine coast, has about two dozen year-round residents, no telephones, movies, restaurants; during the winter the mailboat makes the trip to the mainland once a week. Pratt, a New York photographer, came to it first as a day tripper; he found himself adhering to it like lichen to rock. Eventually he wintered on the tiny, isolated, but intensely involving community some of whose residents with names like Turner, Barter and Rich are descendants of the Island's 18th and 19th century stock. Pratt has a sensitive photographer's eye for detail and the Island itself quickly made him discard romantic illusions of primitive, exotic natives. Far from being a place where one can ""drop out,"" the Island requires work, caring and responsibility for the commonweal; sheer survival on the windswept rocks demands ingenuity and self-sufficiency that is challenging not only in physical terms, but emotionally. Pratt learned all he could about the Island -- topography, wildlife, and history which he gathered bit by bit from the ten tiny cemeteries, from 19th century photographs and from family genealogies; a delicate task since reticence, understatement and a certain obliqueness are as indigenous to Maine as the lobster which provides most Islanders with their basic livelihood -- though virtually everyone is part-time mechanic, carpenter and plumber -- ""in a very real sense, they are all primarily occupied with living on the Island."" With more than 200 photographs it's a wholly absorbing book, respectful of a natural and human environment which is stark, beautiful and vital.

Pub Date: April 10th, 1974
Publisher: Harper & Row