Wednesday, August 10

I had to steal it to save it

My mother is a retired librarian, so I grew up with a peculiar mix of reverence and casual disregard for the written word. I read addictively--around 5 books a week--but I also neglect to get my books returned on time. (Mom always forgave my fines. Well, I'm paying for that now. But I pay gladly--libraries are one of the best deals around. )

Several years ago I went to a library in a very small town (Congrats on your brand new Walmart, small, unnamed Mississippi town! You have hit the big-time.), where I worked occasionally and had one of my three library cards. One of my mini-manias at the time was photography, and I checked out a book of photographs called Photographs, oddly enough, by Emmet Gowin, whom I had never heard of. Shortly after bringing it home, I realized that it would have to stay with me longer than the prescribed two weeks. It was eerie, it was beautiful, and to the wrong eyes, it would have been seen as nasty. It had dead people, creepy Santas, the seemingly inbred, mocking of the elderly and witchy-looking women. If I turned it back in, sooner or later, some yahoo would call attention to the seductive picture of a young girl and boy entertwined, the boobies, the naked pregnant woman, or the lady peeing, and that would be the end of old Emmet in that library. So I "lost" it. And I paid for it--$15, if I remember correctly. But it felt like stealing.

Nancy and Dwayne

Photography is a tool for dealing with things everybody knows about
but isn't attending to.
--Emmet Gowin

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