"Like a mournful fairytale, Jennifer Shaw’s beautifully staged tableaux are alternately sweet and menacing, filled with emotion but never spilling over into sentimentality. The poetic marriage of words and photos makes Hurricane Story a children’s book for grown-ups.” Josh Neufeld, creator of A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge
"Even if you think you've seen it all where Katrina's concerned, trust me, you're going to love Shaw's marvelous memoir." The Times-Picayune
"This is the kind of book that reminds you that books can be beautiful objects." The Los Angeles Times
"Hurricane Story is a tabletop, toy box Odyssey. With simple objects, trenchant statements, and exquisite camera vision, Shaw relates an epic tale of displacement, creation and discovery." George Slade, curator, Photographic Resource Center, Boston
"An engaging variation on a near mythic theme." Gambit Weekly
Hurricane Story is a spellbinding odyssey of exile, birth and return told in forty-six photographs and simple, understated prose. This first-person narrative told through dreamlike images of toys and dolls chronicles one couple’s evacuation from New Orleans ahead of the broken levees, the birth of their first child on the day that Katrina made landfall, and their eventual return to the city as a family. Shaw’s photographs, at turns humorous and haunting, contrast deftly with the prose.
This clothbound hardcover edition includes an introduction by Rob Walker, author of Letters From New Orleans and former “Consumed” columnist for The New York Times Magazine .
|Publisher:||Chin Music Press Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||7.00(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Jennifer Shaw grew up in Milwaukee, studied photography at RISD, and then moved to New Orleans in pursuit of the artist’s life. She teaches the disappearing art of darkroom photography at the Louise S. McGehee School and works as a fine art photographer. She was a founding officer and board member of the New Orleans Photo Alliance and directs their annual PhotoNOLA festival, in addition to chasing after two young sons.
Jennifer’s photographs have been published in B&W Magazine , Shots , Light Leaks Magazine , The Oxford American , The Sun and The New Orleans Review . Her work is exhibited internationally and held in public collections, including the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. Shaw has also been featured in Plastic Cameras: Toying With Creativity (Focal Press, 2010) and Before During After (UNO Press, 2010).
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The fact that Hurricane Katrina affected 15 million people spanning Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisana is not new information. The concept that years later, we are still captivated by the stories of loss and survival that have come from this natural disaster is a testament to the human condition. Jennifer Shaw uses her unique photographic eye to add her family's story to the collective narrative in the artistic and touching Hurricane Story. On the night Katrina made landfall, a pregnant Jennifer, her husband, and their pets found refuge in Alabama. As Katrina wreaked havoc on the Gulf of Mexico, the Shaws welcomed a son into the world. In the aftermath of the storm, the Shaws began rebuilding their lives as millions of others had to do. The story is simple and complex all at once. A single line of text accompanies the 46 photographs and acts as a narrative memoir and picture title. The text that accompanies Photo #9 simply states "He was so tiny at first," and depicts a small, naked, toylike baby being protectively cradled in the palm of a larger doll-like hand. The photo is grainy and the toy baby is haloed by black and grey tones, which may remind the viewer of both the miracle and uncertainty of life. This portfolio of experiences and photographs is a touching reminder that life is beautiful, fragile, and worth protecting at all costs. It is truly a book that adds to the collective story that is and has been created by those most affected by Hurricane Katrina.
I got this through the Early Reviewers program. This is a beautiful book. The prose tells the story of evacuating New Orleans ahead of Hurricane Katrina, and the journey to return home. The photographs, for me, seemed to capture that almost dream-like unreality of trying to make sense of a series of unexpected events.
I haven't had as emotional a response to a book in a long time. There's little text here, it is what amounts to a picture book with small captions, but it encompasses the author's struggle with disaster of Hurricane Katrina in an amazing way. The soft, out-of-focus photography brings to mind a dreamland, or a nightmare, or both, and the vivid colouring brings a sense of reality to the dream. It feels as though the author has brought the reader closer to being 'inside' the mind of the author than most writers can achieve. It makes one feel that they are the ones living through the dream. The text gives the bare essentials to locate the picture in time and place, and to give a context to it in the drama of Katrina. Rob Walker's foreword is a good place to start. He's able to make the connection to New Orleans for those who haven't been there, though knowledge of the disaster is all that is necessary to take a person there through the photos and short, evocative captions. A worthy read, and a book to be enjoyed over again, to take one to a dreamscape different than one's own, but which was a real landscape. Greatly recommended!
Pithy but poignant. Hurricane Story is a very short memoir -- only 300 words -- but illustrated with 46 delightfully artistic photos. Captures the essence of being dislocated, living as vagabonds, the psychological pain of great trials, and then the joy of reclaiming home. Smallest book yet to win the Coffee Table tag. Recommended for anyone who believes in silver linings.
Hurricane Story is a small book that packs a wallop! The simplicity of the text combined with the drama of the pictures is a perfect blend. Anyone who knows me knows I fell in love with New Orleans just as she was when we first met...just one year after Katrina. I wasn't there for the disaster, but I was there for the aftermath. Reading this little story took me back to the sights of devastation and abandonment and filled in that gap of what the residents of New Orleans endured in a way I can't describe. If you have a chance to read this book...take my word for it, it won't take long...then take it. But don't just read it. Look at it. The pictures tell the story as well. Beautifully done!
Hurricane Story by Jennifer Shaw was not what I expected at all. I probably should have paid a bit more attention to the description I guess! What I was expecting was a large coffee table book with lots of black and white photographs that told the story of New Orleans during and after the hurricane; lots of pictures of the flooding, the destruction of property and the people of New Orleans dealing with the devastation. When the book arrived it was small and when I flicked through I didn¿t quite get it , my first impressions were that it was making light of a serious situation by a load of weird pictures of toys. My attitude changed quite dramatically once I actually sat down and read through it. Although the story is simply told it is very powerful and some of the pictures were extremely atmospheric and moving and produced strong emotional reactions that I totally wasn¿t expecting, even from a more traditional photo journal. Photos like ¿The next morning we turned on the TV.¿, ¿The news got worse and worse.¿, ¿Ten thousand body bags seemed plausible.¿ and ¿Send in the guard.¿ seemed to me to convey the horror, helplessness and fear of the faceless military more than a straight photo could ever have done, while ¿We drove further north to the farm.¿ and ¿I¿ll confess that fall was beautiful.¿ Posses an atmospheric beauty I never thought possible photographing toys.