Thursday, June 07, 2012

The Photo Album

Because it takes so different an approach to fiction than anything I’ve read previously, I was slow to appreciate what K.B. Dixon is going for in The Photo Album.  But when that little light bulb finally clicked on for me about thirty pages into it, this unconventional little book became great fun to read. 

The Photo Album can, at first, be a bit confusing because it is a book in which fictional photography-nut Michael Quick explains the circumstances and details associated with 120 favorite photos of his selected from the thousands he has taken.  A little box (most of them horizontal, but a few set on the vertical) sits atop each new section of the book, followed by a short narrative about the picture being featured.  The catch is that there is nothing inside the borders of the box – it is up to each reader to create imaginary pictures to fit the descriptions below all those empty boxes.  This is much easier, and more rewarding, than it sounds.  After all, avid fiction readers do this kind of thing all the time, don’t they?

K.B. Dixon
The real fun, though, begins when the reader becomes familiar enough with Michael to be able to read between the lines of his descriptions about his wife, their friends and neighbors, and his search for a photography style fitting somewhere between art and the mundane.  Michael has little patience with hypocrites or poseurs and he is not a man afraid to share his personal observations about the ones he so regularly encounters.  Our photographer, however, is not a mean-spirited man and seems genuinely to enjoy the quirky behavior of the people in his life, especially that of his adult daughter, Kayla. 

Kayla is the subject of a number of the book’s 120 photos, in many of which she shares space with her new dog, Omar.  Over the course of the book, one senses that Michael is finding it more and more difficult not to smile while delivering his deadpan comments about the developing relationship between Omar and Kayla – all of it documented in pictures.  This is the entire description, for example, under one Christmas season photograph in the book:

            “Kayla is letting Omar choose is own Christmas present.  To me he looks confused.”

That is exactly the kind of understated humor that I enjoy.  Those sharing a similar taste will appreciate The Photo Album…oh, and I think my 120 pictures came out pretty well, considering my inexperience.

(Review Copy provided by Publisher)

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