Warning: this sad, powerful, grotesque collection of black-and-white photos of mostly dead, often naked, human beings is not for the easily disturbed. The introductory text by Katherine Dunn (author of Geek Love
) helps give a context to the macabre scrapbook, and the handwritten captions display irony and sometimes humor; but this is no antiquarian's sentimental portrait of the past. This book documents butchery and brutality, horrible disease and mental illness, suicide and murder. And as Dunn observes, the eye of the beholder is not innocent: "The old cop, like the old con, tries to trick us into forgiveness and complicity. By witnessing he has participated, by understanding he is culpable. And his real purpose is to disguise the truth--that he started out terrified and ended up liking it, fascinated, an aficionado."