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Boring Postcards USA Paperback – March 1, 2004
100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime
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There's not a word of commentary in this book, but that part is up to you. Certain things begin to stand out as you flip through the pages. Like the always blue skies. (Positive thinking!) Or the potentially interesting details that are uniformly obliterated, thanks to those polite middle-distance views and the muddy qualities of cheap lithography. There's a weird tension between the blandly generic ("Fine Food" reads the only visible sign atop a low-slung white building) and the proudly local (according to the postcard caption, this is "The famous Blue Grill on U.S. 40, St. Elmo, Ill."). In its silently subversive way, Boring Postcards proposes that we look more closely at this hallowed form of marketing to see what it tells us about the values and standards of mainstream American culture. --Cathy Curtis --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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But then you stop for a moment and wonder why something so boring could possibly hold your attention for so long. I think the mesmerizing element of these boring postcards is that they are actually doing what they were intendid to do during their creation: They are bookmarks of a persons travel. They show you where a person was as they crossed the state line into Ohio. Sure the toll booth in the photograph is not much to look at...but you almost feel as if you are in the car with the traveller.
Also, because these photos are from the 50's and 60's...you feel as if this is not only a travel across the country. But a travel back into time. A young fella like myself can actually appreciate the look of days that are before my time. The best part is that they aren't tampered with. No photography tricks or advertising acrobats. These were point and click photos that aren't trying to be sexy. So yes, these postcards are definitly boring. But that's what is so exciting about them.
The pride displayed in entrance ways to multimillion dollar turnpikes or the cafes of motels on well-traveled tourist highways speak to a time when the connectivity of automobile travel was still miraculous. Similarly for the cards documenting the rise of shopping centers (malls were still to come), factories, trailer courts, and all manner of 50s and 60s innovation. It all feels quite quaint now, magnified by the editor's terrific selection of poorly composed and wackily titled cards.
The editor has a terrific eye for oddball cards, and the inclusion of cards that show edge wear or postmarks helps bring them to life as mail-art. Perhaps the only negative is that the card backs were not included; a shame, given that the descriptions given there are often as good as the picture image. I also note the peculiar insertion of blank pages here and there.
A must-have volume for postcard collectors, collectors of kitschy 50s/60s art, or just about anyone with an interest in the intersection of industrial and consumer arts.
Second, the publisher's description and viewers' comments are correct: These are boring, charmless, insipid images, that might tell us a lot about who we think we are -- perhaps of how proud small-town America was of its new airports, bus terminals and banks after the war. But I thought that not including any reflections by a student of our culture (Lord knows there are enough candidates), was just plain cheap, and makes this little book, well, boring.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Even though I grew up in the time period where "I get it" why they made these postcards, I still laughed out loud when I looked though these postcards. Read morePublished 7 months ago by MsT
It's as boring as promised. Get a lot of strange looks from people who pick it up on my coffee table.Published 8 months ago by James H Comiskey
Pretty decent coffee table book. I use Postcrossing so I have postcards all over my house, and this book makes a good addition to my postcard decor. Read morePublished 21 months ago by JustinSane
I have a friend who loves to collect post cards, and really liked this book, which I gave to him as a gift.Published on January 2, 2014 by Moemoev
Great pictures through all the book. It really take you back in time. Thanks to Stuart Murdoch's 'The Celestial Café' that I found this book and many others.Published on August 31, 2013 by javier contreras
not sure why. its really a ok book .it was a freebie. it was a paperless book. why not take advantage of it right? not like WHOA! book!Published on January 2, 2013 by Amazon Customer
May 4, 2013
Turning the pages of this book was one of the most memorable experiences
of my lifetime. Read more
Like another reviewer mentioned, this is not a book of actual postcards. I bought this for a project I had in mind but discovered that the book was prints of postcard images... Read morePublished on December 11, 2011 by Mindy Beyerl