Dec 10 2008


Published by at 3:27 pm under Books

by Elizabeth Hand

If this book’s version of Maine is accurate, I don’t want to spend time there. Though I’ve been there on vacation, I’ve never visited or lived there in the winter. I’m from “away” and will stay “away”. Those that grew up and live there are a mix of odd balls and practical but poor characters if this book is to be believed. Their way of life is being destroyed by over use of resources and most of all by moneyed people from “away”.

I don’t remember what I read that interested me in this book which the jacket describes as a “literary thriller” which will do as a category. It has a mystery at its core and a protagonist who some what accidentally wants to determine what the mystery is about and eventually answer the ‘who done what to whom’ question. Atypically, that protagonist is a 50 ish, female, hard bitten, NYC junkie & alcoholic, ‘has been’ photographer of dead and dying. She is tricked by a friend to go to an island off the coast of Maine to interview another out of the game photographer who is a recluse on the island and doesn’t want to be interviewed. Interesting events ensue.

The story is built on artistic photography and early, even crude, photographic techniques; film or earlier. No digital cameras are allowed. Artistic photography on the fringes; raw, city ugly. The main protagonist’s early claim to fame was photographs of dying people and nudes with skeletons. Then that went out of fashion when the NYC punk scene imploded.

I’ve never read Steven King, but I believe he’s from Maine which seems to inspire stories of weird people and weird event. Nothing else to do on long cold nights? At times, I didn’t like this story and considered putting it down, but in the end it was worth reading if you don’t mind a lot of ugliness and a little violence. Good book for vacation reading.

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