A rich and vibrant homage to a singular visual stylist.

HITCHCOCK'S CALIFORNIA

VISTA VISIONS FROM THE CAMERA EYE

In this debut book, two photographers and a writer pay tribute to the cinematic language of Alfred Hitchcock.

Jones, Auiler, and Sinclair’s work begins with an introduction by Bruce Dern, the actor who starred in Hitchcock’s 1976 thriller, Family Plot. Dern’s writing, enjoyable if unremarkable, makes the case for Hitchcock’s distinctive genius. The best of Dern’s stories is the one where he and director John Frankenheimer have the prop master at Paramount build them a dummy to take in a car so they can drive in the high-occupancy vehicle lane. After Dern’s lively intro, each of the three authors presents a short essay on Hitchcock. Jones, a photojournalist, pens a love letter to cinema, describing his childhood experience of seeing Psycho for the first time. Thrilled and terrified, he became a lifelong “Hitchcock fanatic.” In 2014, while visiting Bodega Bay, California—one of the filming locations for The Birds—Jones got the idea for the book: “In that moment I knew I would revisit these scenes out of Hitchcock’s celluloid nightmares with a ‘widescreen’ camera and shoot them over…to recapture the essence of the feelings that Hitchcock had instilled in me.” Next is a short, academic essay by Auiler, a Hitchcock expert and movie historian, who focuses on how film locations informed and enriched the auteur’s work. Finally, Sinclair describes her first encounters with Hitchcock’s movies, her relationship with photography, and the experience of shooting “Souvenirs of a Killing,” a series of staged re-creations of memorable moments in the director’s films. These 17 photos are interspersed throughout the work. But the meat of this project is Jones’ 80 photos, vivid and glowing, of California locations featured in Hitchcock’s movies. After the photos comes the transcription of an exhaustive conversation between Jones and Auiler and a brief afterword by author Dorothy Herrmann, the daughter of Bernard Herrmann, who scored many of the director’s films. Though this is an eclectic and varied collection of writing and images, the majority of the book is Jones’ photos. The volume’s dimensions—it’s almost twice as wide as it is tall—are a fitting tribute to the widescreen format Hitchcock preferred. The photos of California are beautiful, but the strongest effect they have is to make readers want to see the source material: a Hitchcock film. Looking at the photos, one can’t quite escape the impression of viewing a slideshow from a road trip that, while clearly a blast for the traveler, isn’t quite as enchanting secondhand. But Jones’ photos are still appealing—even, at times, haunting. In the conversation between Auiler and Jones, the former delivers an accurate assessment of the pictures: “I think even the casual observer…can sense Hitchcock’s ghost there.” Sinclair’s photos strike a different visual tone. Sometimes they’re unexciting, rote re-creations, but a few are genuinely titillating, like her picture of a camera in a sandwich from Topaz. Some of these visual odes add little, though—like a shot of cornstalks more evocative of stock photos than the crop-duster chase in North by Northwest. Despite its unevenness, the panoramic book captures and conveys the authors’ delight in Hitchcock’s work and in the potency and splendor of his images, moving or still.

A rich and vibrant homage to a singular visual stylist.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9837376-3-6

Page Count: 143

Publisher: Middlebrow Books, L.L.C.

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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