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Boring Postcards Paperback – March 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

As the title of this little book suggests, each of the postcards that fill its pages is, in a sense, quite boring. Stale, often dully composed images of corporate headquarters, roadways, bus-station parking lots, convalescent-home dayrooms, hospital cafeterias, and undistinguished motels. But look carefully, and the cards--culled from the collection of artist Martin Parr--are filled with fascinating little details. As a group, they offer readers the interesting opportunity to puzzle over the collective psyche of the people of the 1950s and '60s (the approximate vintage of the images) who were inclined to create, buy, and send these cards. What, one can't help but wonder, could be so scintillating about a room at the Fortes Excelsior Motor Lodge near Pontefract, Yorkshire? The singular force of the orange bedspreads, carpet, drapes, and walls punctuated by the inexplicably white leather upholstered panel attached to the wall unit behind each of the room's beds. The exterior of the Mirfield Modern School, shot at a distance and unimaginatively placed dead in the center of the gray sky and green playing field? The building's Bauhaus-like lines. The tarmac of Luton Airport in London? The pink jumbo jet being towed into the frame from the left. The uniformly shaped trailers parked at the Freshwater Caravan Camp? The handwritten X that presumably marks the sender's location. The Chalets at Llandanwg? Arguably, not much. The few hundred images here, unfettered by any explanatory text, offer a far from dull diversion for any readers interested in mid-century design or the mundane details of daily life. --Jordana Moskowitz --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

'a compelling collection.' Dazed & Confused ' ... far from dull, Parr's book is a strangely compelling commentary on postwar British architecture, social life and identity ... ' Independent on Sunday ' ... the funniest book [of the year]' The Independent 'Its blend of pathos and bathos is hilarious.' Evening Standard 'silly and poignant' Tribune ' ... Groovy, baby.' Time

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press (March 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714843903
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714843902
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,848,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mr. A. Pomeroy on September 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A strange, alien experience, 'Boring Postcards' is quite literally a set of boring postcards. In a book. Although it's the kind of thing you buy expecting it to be kitsch it's actually deeply affecting - taken at a time when Britain was rebuilding itself after WWII, and 'Dan Dare' from 'Eagle' proposed a future in which Britain ruled space, the concrete buildings, motorways and civic centres are almost heartbreakingly sad nowadays - the equivalent of the bull ring market in Birmingham. If this book was an object it would be one of those tomato-shaped squeezy ketchup dispensers, or a faded yellow plastic school chair.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Daniel A Lieb on July 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I would agree with some of the previous reviewers. I love this book. I keep it on my coffee table and look at it when I'm bored. Many people would look at it and think its completely pointless. After all, these postcards are exactly the type of thing my wife keeps trying to throw away because they're "junk." I don't think they are junk. Taken together, these pictures might say something about society, history or something of that nature. I say, "who cares?" I just think they're plain funny. Pictures of shopping malls and 60's hotel lounges - all entertaining. Some of the funniest ones are of some guy's body shop on an ugly lot somewhere in wherever, but it says, "Ray's Body Shop" proudly at the top of the card. If you like visual stimulation of any kind, you'll like this book.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Turnip on November 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Martin Parr has done it again in his depiction of the world as it really is rather than how we want it to be. Whilst found art rather than his own masterpieces the banality of the work is remarkeable. Can't wait to visit old blighty again to see the Preston bus garage and the other Real sights of Britain.Touchingly nostalgic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By "timothy1146" on December 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Anyone interested in bad,sterile,depressing and bland architecture need look no further.This book provides perfect examples in how NOT to design living spaces and aestetically pleasing public landscapes and public buildings.The book easily could have been titled "How not to Feng Shui".What really strikes you as you glance over the whole of the motel,trailerpark and assorted public buildings is an overwhelming blandness,mismatching and tacky colors,stark,bleak and monotonous nothingness that envelops these cheap and thoughtless artifacts of a thankfully bygone era.A great sociological book could be written on why the general whole of the western world lost so much of its sense of aesthetic beauty in the 20th century and made books like this possible.Is it that 20th century man lost all higher hopes and feeling for beauty and that the horrors of the century can be reflected in the strictly utilitarian architecture that dominated the century?Or is it that the almost exclusively materialistic mindset of 20th century man dictated that his environments reflect his inner state?Pore over this book and draw your own conclusions.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By William H. Meyer on March 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book deserves to be a part of everyones livingroom decor. It's an odd group of Holiday camps, Turnpikes, and 1950's/1960's architecture. Two are even anotated with "my caravan, etc.". A number of guests that have come to my house have spent minutes going over page after page, commenting on each card. Well worth the price.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By "timothy1146" on December 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Anyone interested in bad,sterile,depressing and bland architecture need look no further.This book provides perfect examples in how NOT to design living spaces and aestetically pleasing public landscapes and public buildings.The book easily could have been titled "How not to Feng Shui".What really strikes you as you glance over the whole of the motel,trailerpark and assorted public buildings is an overwhelming blandness,mismatching and tacky colors,stark,bleak and monotonous nothingness that envelops these cheap and thoughtless artifacts of a thankfully bygone era.A great sociological book could be written on why the general whole of the western world lost so much of its sense of aesthetic beauty in the 20th century and made books like this possible.Is it that 20th century man lost all higher hopes and feeling for beauty and that the horrors of the century can be reflected in the strictly utilitarian architecture that dominated the century?Or is it that the almost exclusively materialistic mindset of 20th century man dictated that his environments reflect his inner state?Pore over this book and draw your own conclusions.
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Format: Hardcover
This collection of utterly horrendous postcards is a delightful window into our past and what people valued in days gone by. Certainly in retrospect it is hard to grasp what on earth the people who made these postcards, and more importantly the people who bought and sent them were thinking, but at the time they all made sense to somebody.

Most of these cards are from 1960's and 1970's Britain; I recommend the companion volume "Boring Postcards USA" for a similar look at US postal proclivities in the same eras. Some of the themes of the book are over-represented (highway interchanges chief among them), but I found the postcards of motels, campgrounds, and public areas to be charming though horrifying.

Among my favorite cards in this volume are such greats as "NUL. 30F. M.6. Motorway. Newcastle-under-Lyme.", "Interior of the Mersey Tunnel, Liverpool", "The Drive In Bottle Shop, Northampton", "The Butts Shopping Center, Reading", "Farnham Post Office", "Canteen, Stoke Mandeville Hospital" (a truly ghastly realm of colors), "National Giro Centre, Bootle" (an amazingly postcard that has actually been postmarked!), "A corner of the Moota Motel, Cockermouth", "The Garreg Goch Caravan Park, Morfa Bychan" (the saddest trailer court I have ever seen), and perhaps my favorite of all, "Rain Clouds, from Southend Pier", a bad photo of some clouds in beautiful black and white.

Truly, this is a great collection that simultaneously made me amused and sentimental. I only wish that I could detach and send these postcards, as I know several people who would be delighted to get a card of "Turbine Hall, CEGB Wylfa Nuclear Power Station, Anglesey."
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