Book Review: Off the Bookshelf

Peter Brown

Off the Bookshelf

On the Plains

by Peter Brown

DoubleTakeBooks/Norton, 131 pp., $39.95

It is possible to drive from Fort Stockton, Texas, to South Dakota without passing through a town of more than a few thousand people -- that is the territory that is captured in this very fine and subtle book. On the Plains is a visual report on several years in the 1980s and Nineties that Brown spent exploring the Great Plains from Texas to South Dakota and back. The beauty and emptiness of this vast country that never seemed to change imprinted itself on Brown as a child, and once in Texas (Brown teaches photography at Rice University), he began re-exploring the empty parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas, this time with his large format camera. The result is 126 color prints of surpassing beauty and calmness. The serenity of Brown's eye, however, does not subtract the basic function of the camera: to report. What we learn from this armchair voyage is that the sky really is huge, there are seemingly virgin grasslands that go on forever, and that the commercial buildings, cemeteries, little churches, school buildings, and vehicles probably don't look too different than they did 30 or more years ago.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Book Reviews
<i>Presidio</i> by Randy Kennedy
Presidio by Randy Kennedy
For his debut novel, Kennedy creates a road story that portrays the harsh West Texas terrain beautifully and fills it with sympathetic characters.

Jay Trachtenberg, Sept. 14, 2018

Hunting the Golden State Killer in <i>I'll Be Gone in the Dark</i>
Hunting the Golden State Killer in I'll Be Gone in the Dark
How Michelle McNamara tracked a killer before her untimely death

Jonelle Seitz, July 20, 2018

More by Dick Holland
2003 Texas Book Festival Preview
King of Texas
King of Texas: an interview with Don Graham, editor of 'Lone Star Literature'

Nov. 7, 2003

The Johnson Treatment
The Johnson Treatment
1,167 Pages about Lyndon Johnson's tenure as a Senator

May 3, 2002


On the Plains, Peter Brown

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle