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Comment: exlibrary hardcover book in jacket with light wear, shows some light reader wear throughout ,all the usual library marks and stamps. Spine is loose
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West of Last Chance Hardcover – January 14, 2008


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Hardcover, January 14, 2008
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (January 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393065723
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393065725
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 11.7 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #768,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

A major book whose implications and historic significance will increase for years to come. -- Rick Bass, author of The Lives of Rocks

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

Kent Haruf is the author of Plainsong and Eventide. He lives in Salida, Colorado.

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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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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It is more than just a coffee table book.
Nancy Jacobsen
Like Kent Haruf I first came across photographer Peter Brown years ago through his excellent book 'On the Plains'.
Robin Benson
Beautiful compelling images, thoughtful, incisive prose, with wonderful synergy between the two.
Abbie Flynn

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By David Mcclain on February 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
West of Last Chance offers up nothing more than thoughtful large format photographs of beautiful and rough country and the people and things inhabiting it, perfectly paired with spare and equally eloquent prose poems (though Haruf probably wouldn't call them that). I seldom write reviews, but this book, printed in Italy on luscious semi-matte paper, is well worth taking a moment to recommend - and making some time to read.

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.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Paul Zeigler on February 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
West of Last Chance captures a place and time as few other books do. As a former resident of Montana, I was particularly struck by Haruf's words and how they played off against Brown's images. Like two very good jazz artists, each takes the essential melody of the High Plains, creates his own riff on it, and together create a dazzling duet. West of Last Chance
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson on April 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Like Kent Haruf I first came across photographer Peter Brown years ago through his excellent book 'On the Plains'. This latest book with 151 photos continues the theme with the same vigor and passion. I thought it was a wise choice to stick to the back roads of the Plains, so much more interesting visually than the cities. The photos really convey the hugeness of this area of the Nation though about a third of the photos are of small towns in Texas.

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.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Joines on February 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
...and a must have for your library. If you have not yet cultivated an appreciation for the unique character of this place called the plains, you must pore over the pages of this remarkable book. It is up to each of us to decide what is to be called beautiful (I happen to be a lover of this part of the country), but I do know this - there is nothing more astonishingly beautiful than the honest way in which Peter Brown with his camera and Kent Haruf with his pen have expressed their affection for this place without imposing a bit of sentimentality on their audience. They have simply and respectfully allowed their subject to be what it is, and that is more than enough. You will not regret experiencing this book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By W. Walterman on March 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Much more than another gorgeous coffee table book, West of Last Chance begs to be read again and again. As you begin to decipher Brown's images and Haruf's words a sense of what the high plains, and perhaps by inference, what this country is all about emerges. Clearly the product of two artists with both a passion and a calling.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Christine Peet on February 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a gorgeous book. The text and imagery complement each other beautifully. I'm generally not a fan of landscape photography, but there is something so thoughtful and unique about these images that makes me want to look at them longer. I wasn't familiar with the writing of Kent Haruf before this book and I was blown away by it. I'll have to check out some of his novels.
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