Reader's Link - June 2010 Staff Picks Archive


Pictures Worth Thousands of Words

One Shot Harris: The Photographs of Charles "Teenie" Harris

Title: One Shot Harris: The Photographs of Charles "Teenie" Harris
By: Stanley Crouch

Stanley Crouch gets the credit as “author”, both in our library catalog and on the book itself. But all Crouch wrote is an introductory chapter, which I skimmed but found dense. In actuality, the book is a collection of photographs by a Pittsburgh photographer, Charles Harris. Crouch expends the proverbial thousand words trying to explain these remarkable photographs which speak for themselves.

The primary subjects are African-Americans living in Pittsburgh during the period Harris worked there, from the 1930s through the 1960s. I confess: my mind registers “photographs of African-Americans” and involuntary runs through the stereotypes that one expects (negative, positive, whatever). Then there is an unsettled feeling… and a small awakening… there are no stereotypes here. Who are these people? Who is this wonderful photographer, who loved his city and his neighbors and had the heart, strength, and talent to record their images so eloquently?

The city and people recorded here: is this really our same country, not so many years ago? From how many thousands of pages of dry history would one learn (or, more likely, forget) what is written on these faces? Does History with a capital H really matter, and is progress our most important product? Those were bad times, they say, and we are lucky to be here, not there, to be us, not them – but then why do they look so alive, so engaged, even happy, while we sit staring blankly at screens?

Photography in black and white: a dead craft you won’t be learning in school. Yet what elegance and power it possesses.

I found this book over in the far corner of the Oversize section of the Central library. There you will find many shelves of remarkable photo collections in book form, assembled by the library over the years. Venture back there in person, browse, and check some out.


View similarly tagged posts: photography
Posted by Tirantes on June 23, 2010 at 11:59 a.m.
1 Comment

The Tarahumara Ultrarunners

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen

Title: Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen
By: Christopher McDougall

McDougall shares his journey in tracking down and meeting some of the greatest ultrarunners in the world, the Tarahumara Indians. The Tarahumara live in the rugged Copper Canyons of Mexico and keep themselves isolated from the rest of the world. They can run incredible distances with nothing but strips of leather strapped to their feet. With the help of the elusive Caballo Blanco, a man trusted by the Tarahumara, the author has the rare opportunity to meet these incredible athletes. Throughout the book, the author talks of other extraordinary ultrarunners and delves into the history of running in America.

I found that one of the most inspiring parts of this book is McDougall's description of a 50 mile race in the Copper Canyons, organized by Caballo Blanco, where the Tarahumara athletes compete with a small group of gifted ultrarunners from North America. I found this book intriguing and greatly inspiring. I will never look at running in the same way again.

"Glee and determination are usually antagonistic emotions, yet the Tarahumara were brimming with both at once, as if running to the death made them feel more alive." p. 91

View similarly tagged posts: non-fiction,history
Posted by cockerillj on June 15, 2010 at 12:18 p.m.
2 Comments

The cookbook classic: Why it is still the best reference.

Mastering The Art of French Cooking:

Title: Mastering The Art of French Cooking:
By: Julia Child

Do we only consult this book when faced with a special occasion? Or can we read it, un-rushed, for sheer pleasure? I highly recommend adding to your nightstand, the classic cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. Written with her co-authors, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck, Volume One was first published in 1961. The book was an original and creative experience due to the research and thorough testing of each recipe; it was important to make sure that the measurements and ingredients “translated” from French to American. In "Mastering," Julia Child completely immersed herself in the culture and history of French gastronomy, discovered how a particular recipe came to exist in a region; for example, her delightful account of finding the freshest mussels of Marseilles, and of the simple but complex eggplant dishes of Provence. Such elegant writing style; never are the authors frazzled by the time constraint of preparation vs. finished product on the American dinner table. The book is never stuffy, nor does one feel it was only written for serious culinary academics. It includes very good menu suggestions for both special and everyday meals, with many recipes featuring "seasonal" ingredients and advice for a wine to complement the dish. The “French Chef” continues to show us Americans that fine French cooking is truly within reach. (The memoir "My Life in France" written by Julia with her grand-nephew Alex Prud'homme, published in 2006, is a treasure of stories about the evolving drafts of this book, trusting the old-fashioned "snail mail" as the manuscript package went back and forth between the writers and the book’s editor, Judith Jones.) You can also find her famous cooking series “The Way to Cook” (produced in the mid-1980’s) available on video at the library.



View similarly tagged posts: non-fiction,history
Posted by pollockl on June 3, 2010 at 2:30 p.m.
1 Comment

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