The Oxford Project, by Peter Feldstein and Stephen G. Bloom (8 June)

I saw a bit about this book on the NPR website (here) and immediately put this book on the hold list at the library. I thought it would be neat to see some pictures taken 20 years apart of people in a small town in Iowa. I was right, but be warned! When I tried to find the book on my library’s holds shelf, I couldn’t — it was too big and was stacked elsewhere where it could fit. This is a large book. Almost 300 pages, something like 10″ by 13″ in size… I needed a bigger bag. 🙂

But it is really cool! If you didn’t check out the above link already, here’s the deal: Peter Feldstein, a professor at the University of Iowa, set up his camera in his adopted hometown of Oxford, Iowa in 1984 and asked all of the residents to come in and get a picture taken. Six hundred seventy did. Feldstein had a small showing, then threw all the photos in a cabinet and forgot about them. In 2005, he decided to track down all of his subjects and photograph them again, this time with the help of Stephen Bloom to take down the residents’ stories and put them all in this giant book.

The stories range from fairly boring to scandalous (stripping in Phoenix, Arizona?! Oh my!). They are organized more or less by family, though not everyone is chronicled (and thank goodness, that would be a lot of anecdotes!). It’s interesting to me, being the suburb-dweller I am, that so many of these families are deeply connected and that many of the people interviewed were glad simply to graduate high school.

Also, the scary buckskinning-guy-cum-preacher makes me giggle every time I see his picture.

Rating: 8/10
(Support Your Local Library Challenge)

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