Please Judge a Book by its Cover

Never mind, for now, who will read it.  We are seduced by a book’s cover–or not.  I hope you will like this one which features two photographs by Rick Dingus.  No, this is not his “blue” period (note the sky) but work from the twenty years in which he created “photo drawings.”  With graphite or silver colored pencils, sometimes colored crayons, Rick challenges the notion that photographs are objective, real, true.  He calls them incomplete “quotations” rather than facts and uses the drawings to blue the distinction between what is photographed and what is imagined.

I am thrilled and honored to have Rick’s work as cover art for A Habit of Landscape.  He champions the viewer’s role, admits too his own subjectivity.  His treatment of landscape reveals its complexities and paradoxes.  And perhaps like poets he suggests that the real is less interesting than the imagined.

The top image is entitled “Shadow Over Moaning Lake, 1991-92,” taken on the Navajo reservation as part of a documentation of sacred sites by the tribe.  The second image is “Plowed Fields Near Colorado City, Texas l994-96.”  Pairing them was not an idea either Rick or I had.  (The cover designer did.)  Far from a stereographic set of images, side by side, or repeat photography (Rick worked with an earlier project rephotographing 19th century expeditionary sites), they may invite you to speculate on the metaphors beneath the surface of what may be called a habit of landscape.

And hopefully to anticipate my monthly blogs on how this book is coming to be.  Contracted a few months ago, it will go through several stages of production before its June 12 prepublication order date. Stay tuned for the next blog, “What’s in a Title.”

  • Gail Hovey
    Posted at 17:11h, 10 February Reply

    Love what you wrote. One complaint. The text is very small for these old eyes. Could you make it larger next time?
    Reading this, I can’t help but think of your memoir, Walking the Llano. I wonder about the connection between it and the poems. Which I can’t wait to read!

    • admin
      Posted at 20:28h, 14 February Reply

      Hi Gail, thanks for your comment! Probably I can’t alter the font size as I am at the mercy of my web designer. Meanwhile, I do intend to write a blog about the connection between this book and Walking the Llano. Probably the next blog around the beginning of March. I actually wanted this title for that book but the editor preferred WTL. I would be thrilled if you would review this book when it comes out.

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