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The Country Houses of John F. Staub (Sara and John Lindsey Series in the Arts and Humanities) Hardcover – September 28, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
I lived for many years in a neighborhood rich with Staub houses, and I have always loved them for their understated and impeccable design. The earlier book on Staub by Howard Barnstone has become a collector's item and I am lucky enough to have a copy which I have read and re-read many times.
The current book, I am sorry to say, is virtually unreadable. Stephen Fox's text is laden with impenetrable sociological jargon with the thesis being, as far as I can tell, that the newly rich of Houston wished to reside in tastefully traditional houses. This 'insight' is belabored to the point of comedy. To read passages of this prose aloud will make you roll over laughing at the convoluted language used to explain the obvious.
Sadly, the overwhelming sociological point-making of the text completely dominates the book, rather than discussion of Staub's space-planning, detailing and architectural imagery.
Richard Cheek's photographs, however are positively stunning. For me, the ideal would have been a re-edition of Howard Barnstone's earlier book on Staub with the addition of Cheek's photography.
Now, enter the over-the-top deconstructionist archi-speak of the author, who can't decide if Staub was a real genius or just another imperial imitator. Quite annoying, really. This book should have been written by someone with an appropriate appreciation for scale, proportion, massing and form rather than another graduate from Lars Lerup's flake factory. P-L-A-S-T-I-C. Yeah, whatever.
Bottom line: This book is for browsing more than reading, so you're more likely to notice the startling work of the architect than the distracting analysis of the author. It's a shame so few people appreciate the art of building anymore. Staub did, and he was a consummate artist, more disciplined than McKim, Mead and White and more original than, say, Atlanta's Neel Reid.
Buy this book as a catalog and chronicle of the work of one of our country's most talented residential architects, and go to see the houses now before Houston has a chance to demolish them all.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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John Staub's attention to detail as illustrated in this wonderful book was second to none. The book's wonderful illustrations showcase many of the architect's beautifully designed... Read morePublished on January 25, 2008 by William G. Troiano
This book is a true tribute to Staub and the world he created for his clients--mostly Houstonians. It is a beautiful well illustrated book that gives you a historical paradigm for... Read morePublished on December 27, 2007 by W. Murphy