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It’s mine It’s mine

While happily researching all things mid-Century “Beat” last year, I fell in love with a book by a Swiss-born photographer and friend of all the usual Beat suspects, Robert Frank. Frank traveled the country in 1955 and 1956, and in 1958 he published the resultant photographs in a collection titled The Americans. Every single image is stunning and illuminating, and I knew when I was writing My Hands Are a City that they must be involved in the overall project somehow. The book is quite famous (I actually first saw a few of the photos at an Art Institute exhibit in Chicago), but at the time, the only way I could set eyes on the actual thing was courtesy of the New York Public Library‘s Mid-Manhattan Branch…reference section. I could not find this flipping book anywhere. No bookstore, used, new, online, or in Portland, had a copy, so I sat there at the big table in Midtown and enjoyed, taking care to burn the images in my head as much as I could. That evening I set an alert with Amazon to find a used copy for me, but over the last year, I never found one for less than $250. After I saw it for $500, I told myself I’d hit Purchase if a copy ever turned up for $150.

The plan of course is for My Hands Are a City to pull double-duty as the third movement in a multi-movement mammoth on the same musical (and extra-musical) themes. After I finally saw the book I thought (as any sane person would) “Well there’s my second movement”, and so in the last couple of weeks I’ve been mulling hard about what shape that might take. One day after sketching some things I went outside for a break. I got myself a gyro. I didn’t want to go back up to the studio just yet, so I thought I’d browse a little at the Barnes & Noble across the street, but I couldn’t bring my gyro inside so I peered at the display window while I lunched.

And there it was. Staring me in the face. A new, 50th anniversary edition. I ran right in at bought one of their last 2 copies. At full retail. And I didn’t care.

It’s even better than I remember. Especially ’cause I own it.

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