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ART | reba’s reviews

Read any GOOD BOOKS lately?


SNAPSHOTS IN TIME - PHOTOGRAPHY PLAYS ROLE IN 2 NEW BOOKS
TEXT BY REBA J. MCMELLON

“E UDORA W ELTY P HOTOGRAPHS ”


($40, U NIVERSITY P RESS OF M ISSISSIPPI )
Eudora Welty is one of the great American writers. She is
also a celebrated photographer. This book contains 226 black
and white fascinating photographs taken during the 1930s,
‘40s and ‘50s, many of them of rural Mississippi.
Miss Welty was a passionate observer in both her writing
and photography. Her photography career began with the
WPA program in the 1930s. This book has an excellent for-
ward by Reynolds Price and a candid introductory interview
with Eudora Welty conducted by Hunter Cole and Seetha
Srinivasan at Eudora Welty’s home in Jackson in January
1989.
In the interview, Welty refers to her pictures as snapshots
rather than photography because of the way they were taken.
“They were taken spontaneously - to catch something as I
came upon it, something that spoke of the life going on
around me. A
snapshot is now or never. A good snapshot stops a moment
from running away.”
“Eudora Welty Photographs” is a must-have for students
of photography, the short story and all things Welty.

“S OURCES OF L IGHT,” BY M ARGARET M C M ULLN


($16, H OUGHTON -M IFFLIN C HILDREN ’ S B OOKS )
Set in Jackson, “Sources of Light,” is in no way childish
or child-like but is written for ages 10 and up. The plot cen-
ters around a 14-year-old girl named Sam. She and her
mother move down to Jackson from Pittsburgh after her
father dies in the Vietnam War. It is Sam’s first year in high
school.
Set in 1962, Sam is confronted by racial tensions that
catch her off guard. Her mother is struggling with adjust-
ing the volume of her own life as Sam finds solace, clarity
and power behind the lens of a camera.
Sam’s mother has a photographer friend from New York

40 a cc e n t s o u t h m i s s i s s i p p i
City who is also new to Mississippi. His name is Perry Walker.
Perry and Sam’s mother are both fans of Eudora Welty, whom they
run into at the local grocery store. “She takes great pictures of peo-
ple out in the country, dancing, or leaning on a front porch.” Perry
says. The character brings to mind real life photographer James
Perry Walker.
In the midst of some ugly violence, Perry teaches Samantha to
find the shadows first in order to recognize her source of light. As
with her previous books, Margaret McMullan proves to be a great
writer of young adult fiction.
Recommended for all Mississippi libraries, this would be an
excellent book to assign and read aloud.

“L ETTER TO M Y D AUGHTER ,” BY G EORGE B ISHOP ($20, R ANDOM H OUSE )


Set in Baton Rouge, La., this debut novel is an amazingly
authentic fast read. How George Bishop captures the intricate
nuances of the internal turmoil of a mother and daughter is noth-
ing short of prize-winning literature. If the reader picks one book
to take to the beach on spring break, this would be it. The role of
the father is also an
act of psychological
genius.
Written in letter
form, the book begins:
Dear Elizabeth,
It’s early morning
and I’m sitting here
wondering where you
are, hoping you’re all
right.
A fight, ended by a
slap, sends Elizabeth
out the door of her
home on the eve of her
15th birthday. Her
mother, Laura, is left
to fret and worry —
and remember.
Wracked with guilt as
she awaits Liz’s return, Laura begins a letter to her daughter, hop-
ing to convey “everything I’ve always meant to tell you but never
have.”
In her painfully candid confession, Laura shares memories of
her own troubled adolescence in rural Louisiana, growing up in an
intensely conservative household. She recounts her relationship
with a boy she loved despite her parents’ disapproval, the fateful
events that led to her being sent away to a strict Catholic boarding
school, the personal tragedy brought upon her by the Vietnam
War, and the significance of the tattoo below her right hip.
This is a small book that packs a punch in short order.

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