Rectangular Packages With Ribbons
Once they unwrap these, they'll put them on the coffee table or in the WC, and then they'll hug you!
Everyone Adapting Everywhere
Shot in 1986, Boris Mikhailov's sumptuous tritone-printed Salt Lake (Steidl, $65) documents families sunbathing and swimming at a Southern Ukrainian seashore ringed with the local factories' smokestacks, tanks, and industrial-sized pipes, which funneled untreated water directly into the sea. Mikhailov's expansive black-and-white photos show the unself-conscious bathers (who believed the salty waters had curative powers) crowding the frothy lake and lounging on the huge, decaying pipes like any old pier. The sepia-toned reproductions and tranquil enjoyment of the mostly middle-age subjects make for a nostalgic look back at a place carved out of a former state.
Bill Aron's crisp photographs and Vicki Reikes Fox's lively text provide a kind of nostalgic-in-advance document of cultures right next door in Shalom Y'all: Images of Jewish Life in the American South (Algonquin, $24.95). Comprised of black-and-white portraits of people in their homes, synagogues, and places of work; stills of Jewish cemeteries and old stores; and excerpts from interviews with the subjects, the book depicts Jewish communities throughout the South, which were established as early as the 1700s. Although most of the photos brightly celebrate the disjunctions and twinings of contemporary Jewish Southern culture, the more moving photos in the book -- such as the portrait of Aaron Kline standing among sundry items in the Whale Store, the last Jewish-owned store in Alligator, Miss. -- record the now waning existence of small-town Southern life and pay tribute to a time when being Jewish and Southern was not such an easy thing.
Like Shalom Y'All, Wing Young Huie's Lake Street USA (Ruminator Books, $16) incorporates personal history as well as photographs to relate the stories of its communities, which stretch along a single street in Minneapolis. From 1981 through 1999, Huie shot about 18,000 photographs of people throughout Lake Street's 12 neighborhoods, which run the gamut from rich to poor and include many immigrant communities from Southeast Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. From the 18,000 exposures, Huie culled 675 black-and-white photographs, which were exhibited along Lake Street itself in 2000 and constitute the bulk of the book. Although many of the images are intriguing and the anecdotes are heartening, the photos suffer a bit from overcrowding -- often there are five small photos to a page -- and reading the book makes me hunger for fewer, bigger photos and a way to delve deeper into just a couple of these stories.