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West of Last Chance Hardcover – January 14, 2008
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An achievement of sublime alchemy. By its end, my notions of beauty, space, and time were irrevocably altered. -- Mark Spragg, author of An Unfinished Life
Somehow his pictures inhabit the viewer's brain, take up residence there....the latest chapter in a magnificent body of work. -- Geoff Dyer, author of The Ongoing Moment
About the Author
Peter Brown has received numerous fellowships and his work is included in many collections, including that of the Museum of Modern Art. He lives in Houston, Texas.
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Top Customer Reviews
Rather than a prosaic description of the vastness of the plains, or a trite complaint about the environmental crises facing the land and its people, West of Last Chance reads (both Kent Haruf's words and Peter Brown's images) more like a long, meditative poem, spanning a huge narrative arc that includes the religious beliefs of the people, the remnants of (and occasional denigration of) its native American Indian inhabitants, the way the water, land and resources are sometimes thoughtlessly used and abused, and the economic hardships of fighting for a livable space in so vast and hard a world.
There's a fair amount of humor in the book too. Coming from a fairly small town in South Texas, I can promise you: the people in the book are the real thing. They are tough but often tender, and appropriately wise to the ways of their world. To someone who doesn't know rural America, it may be a real eye-opener that everyone in the sticks doesn't meet the stereotype. To those who do know small-town America, it will be a nice visit home. Peter Brown offers up some of the best documentary images (and by that I don't mean less than artful) of this rugged landscape and its equally rugged, poetic and just flat-out interesting people, that you'll find anywhere.
The writing is spare and understated and beautiful, which matches the subject perfectly.Read more ›
The photos that I think work best are of the buildings. Shot in the classic tradition stretching back to the FSA photos of the Depression: no-nonsense straight on at eye height and mostly they are framed in the composition, too. I would have been satisfied with the book with just the building photos. Brown's composition framing really does bring out the best in so many of the images. For instance there are a couple of wonderful shots taken in Buffalo, Wyoming (plates 118 and 119) that just grab when you turn over the page, full of shapes, color and what appeals to me: plenty of signage.
Throughout the book there are signs and lettering, again very reminiscent of the thirties FSA photos. Now, many photographers (in rather elitist thinking) would deliberately avoid photographing hand-made signs, billboards and commercial lettering but these seem such a part of America that I think it would be foolish to avoid them. Fortunately plenty of photographers go out of their way to capture this silent form of communication because of its visual appeal.
There was a possible interesting theme that could have made the book even more enjoyable: the center of town image.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I grew up on the plains of Texas. You really have to be from there to appreciate the land. I loved the pictures and the narrative. Read morePublished 2 months ago by D. J. Wade
The pictures are so clear and breathtaking. I absolutely love this book.Published 5 months ago by Debra
Beautiful book. Thank you, Mr. Haruf. At age five, I lived with my family for a month in a sod house near Last Chance, Colorado, so I had to have this book.... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Sharon S. French
The best combination of photos and writing since John Dugdale.Published 6 months ago by Pat Youngman Smith
Beautiful photos mixed with Haruf's elegant prose. It is especially meaningful since Mr. Haruf, celebrated for his spare, elegant writing, passed away November 2014.Published 7 months ago by S.Z. M.