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The Oxford Project Paperback – Abridged, September 28, 2010
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"For my Creative Writing students the portraits in The Oxford Project really are worth a thousand words. When used as writing prompts, the transformative nature of the portraits help my students practice crafting characters. The portraits have also inspired my students to bring in portraits of themselves as children which they use to spark pieces of writing that explore connections between the yesterday of their childhood and the today of their teen years. This year students will use the Oxford Project as a template to create their own Oxford Project that focuses on the childhood portrait of a relative or neighbor they know who is from an older generation."
--Junius Wright, Academic Magnet High School
"I opened the book for a quick browse and read it from cover to cover before I realized it was nearly three in the morning on a school night, but a more temperate reader would likely enjoy flipping through a section or even opening it to a random page. Photo majors, and anyone else interested in the human condition, should not miss The Oxford Project."
--DCAD Delaware College of Art & Design
"What we have in this spellbinding and ambitious and eccentric volume is 'Our Town' and 'Spoon River Anthology' updated and revivified. We also have journalism, in words and in images, at its heart-stopping best and its most poignant...by the final page you feel as if you have both read a novel and seen a movie simultaneously."
"Then-and-now portraits, shown side-by-side, tell one powerful story; in accompanying texts, their beautiful testimonials to time and life and people tell another."
--NPR.org, Best Gift Books 2008
"Each picture is worth a thousand words, and each pair of portraits is a fair trade for an entire novel."
--NPR, Morning Edition
"The product is a hard-to-put-down coffee-table book, with big, striking then-and-now portraits, that pulls you deep into small-town America, with its almost excessive joys. The danger of such a project is that it can make caricatures out of real people - but this book stays true to its life-worn subjects and to the complexities of what would seem to be the most simple of places."
"People don't get much more real than this, and there's a heartbreaking, forensic pleasure in paging through the book to stare at the pictures for minutes at a time, looking at the thousands of ways in which the years change each of us."
--The Washington Post
"The book is at once strikingly intimate and expansive...[The Oxford Project has] the sweeping scope and power of Our Town or Spoon River Anthology. It's both personal and historical, which makes Feldstein's achievement doubly absorbing and doubly affecting."
--The Austin Chronicle
"The Oxford Project is an homage to Americana, a photographic record of small-town America and the story of intertwined lives. It is about history, personal and collective, and that ubiquitous force: change. This book, like the facets of human features, is so intriguing, it is nearly impossible to put down."
--The San Antonio Current
"There's something truly remarkable about this book. Art and historical artifact, The Oxford Project provides a glimpse into a real America - not the one dreamed up, and exploited, by pandering politicians (at every point on the political spectrum). This is the real thing, riveting and revelatory.
...The Oxford Project is like a still-life documentary, a narrative about change. This huge, handsome book, with its gatefold photographs, its maps and memories, offers a fascinating piece of contemporary history, a treasure of social and cultural commentary."
--The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Honest, gripping, and incredibly moving...The book design is brilliantly conceived and beautifully produced."
--Black and White magazine
"Fascinating...a time capsule that offers the reader a unique glimpse of the changing face of life in small town America...a fine addition to your personal library."
"What a marvelous way to get at 'who we are' as people. This powerful, confessional book draws its strength from the truth that so-called ordinary people, not those with bold-faced names, are actually the heroes of our American drama."
--Ken Burns, Emmy award-winning director of The Civil War
"Cleverly designed and artfully illustrated. Of significance to humanities scholars and socials scientists, as well as general readers, this work provides a good glimpse of small town America."
"[The] images are a fascinating look at how people age and develop, a kind of real life 'before' and 'after' experiment...an intriguing look at small town America."
"These photographs and stories are American documentary work at its finest."
--Dale Maharidge, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
"The Oxford Project is an extraordinary undertaking and a fascinating book. These magnificent photos and oral histories make for a can't-put-it-down-read, and prove that the stories we find all around us are the most interesting and important of all. You'll be awed by the poetry in the words, dreams, and faces of Oxford, Iowa.
--Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps
"A coffee table book that will lead to many discussions. The Oxford Project is also a book to read cover to cover. It is a record of humanity during the last years of the 20th century. Everyone will find something of themselves in the people of Oxford."
--Nancy Quinn, Marketing Director, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, Milwaukee
"The arresting lenticular photograph on the cover of this book is a boy, Hunter Tandy in 1984, and as a man in 2005. The diversity of human experiences is engrossing and the photos are captivating. This is an American small town's story but also the story of American lives. Humane, poignant, but also a work of art, The Oxford Project deserves to be in every library and home to remind us of who our neighbors are."
--Catherine Wallberg. Buyer, Harry W. Scwhartz Bookshops, Milwaukee
"To stumble upon a small town like Oxford is one thing - to be able to consider its whole population face by face, at your own leisure, is something else entirely."
--from the Preface, by Gerald Stern
"This book was amazing. Amazing. Many things about people are immutable - often residents would stand the same way for their portraits 20 years apart without noticing it. So much of who we are is shaped by how others see us, but clearly at our core we are all our own person."
"The whole endeavor in question is both simple and simply amazing...taken slowly and allowed to unfold (much like the project itself), The Oxford Project had much to reveal and does so beautifully."
--CorridorBuzz.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Peter Feldstein is an artist working at the intersection of photography, drawing, printmaking, and digital imaging. Feldstein's work has been shown in galleries across the country, at eh Des Moines Art Center and has been included in group exhibition at the Center for Creative Photography, Walker Art Center, and the Rhode Island School of Design. He has received an NEA Individual Artist's Grant and two Polaroid Collection Grants. For more than three decades, Feldstein taught photography and digital imaging at the University of Iowa School of Art & Art History.
Stephen G. Bloom is the author of Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America (Harvest Books). He is also the author of a collection of non-fiction stories, Inside the Writer's Mind (Wiley-Blackwell), and Tears of Mermaids: The Secret Story of Pearls (St. Martin's Press). Since 1993, Bloom has taught at the University of Iowa, where he specializes in narrative writing.
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Top customer reviews
It's great! I would not characterize it as abridged, it's exactly the same as the hardcover except its size (8 1/2 x 10 1/2-in instead of 10 1/4 x 12 3/4-in) and that it contains a handful fewer pages/photographs (literally a couple dozen, mostly associated with the hardcover's big fold-out pages that the paperback doesn't have). Otherwise, the layout is the same (shrunk proportionally to fit the slightly smaller page) and the quality of the paper and photographic reproduction is equivalent. The paperback edition also adds a Reading Group Guide of questions.
I highly recommended THE OXFORD PROJECT, and highly recommended it in paperback.
The history. The changes. The values. The life. The love. The loss. The realism. The dreams. The regrets. The celebrations. Wow.
In our culture, we tend to live too much for today and this book is a subtle way to contemplate our own lives from a bigger-picture perspective, with a much broader and more meaningful stroke than the immediate.
Moments and decisions -- the cornerstones of our lives. They are ours to experience as well as ours to make. I've enjoyed the transparent view into Oxford and how it allows us to take a similar view into our own lives ... 20 years from now, how will we answer such a question? :)
This book is a very nicely bound coffee-table-quality book, the cover art actually 'changes' from the young boy to the current day man as you tilt it, the paper quality is superb, and the images are art-worthy. It's an all around great addition.
This is a profoundly moving book, because both though the pictures, and the brief stories, we get a really sense of the nature of time and aging, and how our lives don't always proceed as planned. It's about human resilience, and about dashed dreams, and about just getting by. It takes your breath away to see how much changes, and even more so, how much it doesn't.
This is the most popular book on my coffee table (and it has a striking cover), and it's sure to get comments when anyone comes and visits.
Recommended. Especially for those of us who are older and can remember how we were in 1984, and how we see ourselves, today.