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Suburbia Hardcover – November 2, 1999

4.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Fotofolio; First Thus edition (November 2, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1881270408
  • ISBN-13: 978-1881270409
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 10.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #293,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on January 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
It's long overdue that this 1972 rare cult classic book was republished. In the early 70s, photographer Owens acted as an anthropologist objectively documenting suburban inhabitants, their native environs, and their daily rituals. By pairing the images with quotes made by the subjects, Owens has created a hilarious and absurd account of life in the suburbs. Tupperware parties, backyard barbecues, and going to the hairdresser have never been so riveting! You must own this book!
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Format: Hardcover
The 1973 original edition, which contained only black-and-white photos, may not have been to everyone's taste. I went to the library and compared the "NEW & IMPROVED" (as the red 8-pointed star on the cover proclaims) 1999 edition with the old. The new edition is a lot better. First, some photos that did not have much impact for me (e.g., a shot of adults kissing on Halloween) have been deleted. Second, 18 pages of color photos (some of which have the gaudy color combinations typical of the 1970s) and a number of B&W photos were added. Third, the order of photos is more meaningful; for example, "I believe in women's liberation" was the second photo in the old edition but is on page 21 in the new edition (opposite a depiction of two chairs and a TV). Fourth, Owen's editor Shimshak has added captions for photos that previously had none (e.g., on pages 16-17). Finally, there is a new introduction by journalist David Halberstam.
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By A Customer on March 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm delighted to see this book available again. Last year I spent $100 for a copy (well worth it!) because it was out of print. I plan to buy the new version for the additional pictures promised. I've been fascinated with this book since I was a kid (and his other out-of-print books). I have too much to say about Bill Owens' work and not nearly enough room! I love "Suburbia" and would highly recommend it to anyone who loves to study people just "doing their thing".
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Format: Hardcover
I think this new edition of Bill Owens wonderful book is slightly better than the original. Having both editions I find that although the halftone screen is less than the original (first edition was over 200, this edition is 170) the printing quality and paper are better, giving the photos more depth. After all these years the images still look fresh and fascinating and the amount of detail the photos contain is amazing. As far as I am aware no other book comes close in capturing the feel of the American suburb of thirty odd years ago.

The book is always favourably mentioned in photo history books as an example of the 'new topography' with photographers like Lewis Baltz, Robert Adams and Stephen Shore and the critics suggest that the citizens of this suburbia lead superficial lives because they live there. But they can't get round the fact these folk, living in Livermore Amador Valley, California, or perhaps three thousand miles away in Levittown, Long Island enjoy the life-style of suburban living and Owens photos capture this feeling so well.

On the visual strength of 'Suburbia' I bought another book of Bill Owens photos, 'Working: I do it for the money', published in 1977, a super collection of photos showing Americans at work and like 'Suburbia' it includes many observations from those in the photos. Well worth searching out for.

***FOR AN INSIDE LOOK click 'customer images' under the cover.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
BILL OWENS SUBURBIA is a 120-page hardcover medium format (26 cm X 26 cm) book, consisting mainly of black and white photographs, with a nice selection of color photos. The color photos are on pages 13, 14, 27, 28, 43, 44, 59, 60, 75 to 78, 91 to 94, 107, and 108. The pictures show white middle class families, posing with their luxury items and their tacky living room decor. The luxury items take the form of boats, motorcycles, and house trailers. The tacky decor is generally in the worst of taste, taking the form, for example of bad reproductions of Greek statues. Most of the photos come with an inscription printed right below the picture. The inscriptions were all written by the subjects of the pictures. Some of them display a wry form of unintended humor

The photos are all from the area of Livermore, California. I grew up in nearby San Leandro, in a housing development called Marina Faire. Presently, I have relatives in a housing development in Elk Grove. Thus, I have first-hand knowledge of families and their accoutrements, of the same type shown in BILL OWENS SUBURBIA. This book is not quite as good as WORKING by Bill Owens, or LEISURE by Bill Owens. I recommend LEISURE over SUBURBIA.

The following are my favorites from BILL OWENS SUBURBIA (keep in mind, that I much prefer Mr. Owens' book, LEISURE:

Page 12. This shows a husband in a white T-shirt and wife in nice casual house-clothes, with a tall bouffant. In the background is a rental moving van. The man and woman both touch the edge of a cardboard box filled with clothes. The inscription reads, "We moved up to a nicer house. We thought we'd do better, but the real estate man got us. Closing costs were supposed to be $295 but they turned out to be $750.
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