Complemented by a three-page introduction and a smattering of quotes from John Milton, Plato and others, this impressive collection showcases more than 250 photographs of contemporary American families, taken by the likes of Nan Goldin, David LaChapelle, Sally Mann and Nicholas Nixon. The so-called spirit of these images ranges from heartbreaking to smile inducing. Al and Tipper have arranged the photographs by theme (e.g., photos of farming families, families at mealtime, couples reading the paper, parents smoking around children, white children with black nannies, etc.). Without explanations, some are confusing, e.g., two little girls-one white, one black-stand side-by-side in their bathing suits. Are they sisters? Cousins? Friends? Yet this approach allows the more complex work here to maintain its socio-sexual zing. A nervous-looking bride walks through a park with her fianc , while a couple sits on a nearby park bench, kissing. A trio of pudgy adults smiles as they dig into a meal of ribs, corn on the cob and Diet Pepsi. Teens mourn over the casket of a classmate. A laughing woman sprays a young girl with a garden hose. A family of four stands at a busy intersection in Manhattan, underneath a Calvin Klein billboard showing an underwear-clad hunk. The book includes families from all walks of life and potential voting demographics-and it is oddly successful at describing the beauty and awkwardness of family in its current incarnations, including same-sex couples. The ambient tolerance, plus a few less-than-clothed figures, may provoke responses from a variety of camps. (Nov. 12) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
This book begins with an excellent objective-to portray the dramatic changes in the American family over the past two generations-and the Gores did a fine job of selecting and arranging an outstanding collection of photographs. The 260 color and black-and-white images are by some of the finest contemporary photographers in North America, including Sally Mann, Mary Ellen Mark, Tina Barney, Mitch Epstein, Lee Friedlander, and Nicholas Nixon. However, the book consists almost entirely of these loosely strung-together photographs, with only brief, informal comments by the authors buried among the early pages and occasional, distracting snippets of quotes. Not a single photograph is captioned, and the fine photographers are credited only in the small print at the end of the volume. The publisher sees this volume as an excellent complement to the Gores' recent Joined at the Heart, but other than the concept of family, no substantive connection is apparent. Carefully selected and beautifully reproduced, the photographs are nothing short of brilliant. Yet so many questions go unasked and so many issues are not addressed that one is left disappointed. For comprehensive collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/02.]-Raymond Bial, Parkland Coll. Lib., Champaign, IL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.