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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Taking a Picture

"People talked about the truth as being something you had to steal when the subject was unaware. The phrase was, after all, 'taking a picture''" notes photographer Vera Dare in the novel MARY COIN by Marisa Silver. The novel's cover photograph (altered as it may be) is undoubtedly one of the most famous in American history, taken by Dorothea Lange in 1936 as part of her work with the Farm Security Administration, has always intrigued me. I wonder about Florence Owens Thompson (called Mary Coin in the novel) and the children surrounding her. The author has thoughtfully imagined Mary's story and Vera's story using many of the factual details of the lives of the two women, noting her gratitude for the legacies of Florence Owens Thompson and Dorothea Lange in the author's notes. Interwoven with their stories is the fictitious life of Walker Dodge, a history professor whose passion is seeking the stories behind photographs and the ephemera of life. I love what Ms. Silver has created with the intersection of their lives.

4 comments:

  1. is it difficult to separate fact from fiction in this?

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    1. Not for me. I kept DL's work and life in mind and could separate the two.

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  2. Oh, I remember this photo so well..
    .it sounds like an interesting book...
    brattcat raised a good question. I just saw some fictional films on French impressionist artists, & while they were based on truth, there was dramatic interpretation which I then accepted as truth.

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    1. That gets to be dangerous, doesn't it? I do not think the author had this in mind as she created this book. Her author's note is straightforward about it.

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