Stuff and the Surreal in William Eggleston’s Guide

William Eggleston’s Guide, in essence, begins with a singular photograph. The book is not bound by a paper jacket, nor is it wrapped in a picture. Instead, the cover feels and looks like faux leather (something almost-​but-​not-​quite real), a print seemingly pasted on. It is evocative of the old family album or yearbook with this mass-​produced feel. But it is not a precious art-​object; it does not draw one across a room to drag one’s fingers across the pages, thinking about the quality of the paper or the pleasure in some fine binding. It looks like it could, or would, fit well on a generic dark-​stained coffee table, or on some shelf adorned with family photographs. Yet, it is unlike a family album in the content itself — the cover is a well-​printed low-​angle shot, as if a child or dog had photographed it, elegantly framing a rusting, cheap but potentially cherished, tricycle against some suburban scene, the sky somehow attaining a lavender hue. Who would put anything but portraits of the family themselves on the cover of an album ?

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