Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs

Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs by Sally Mann

TR 140 .M345 A3 2015

“Sally Mann’s luminous photographs of her three young children growing up on a rural Virginia farm and her evocative explorations of the southern landscape and mortality have become icons of modern art. Hold Still makes it clear that the fearlessness and clarity of vision she possesses as an artist are fully in evidence in her writing as well. In this riveting memoir, a unique interplay of narrative and image, Mann’s abiding concerns – family, race, mortality, and the storied landscape of the American South – are revealed as almost genetically predetermined, written into her DNA by a colorful cast of characters who came before her.

In researching the book, Mann set out to understand her parents: a strikingly beautiful and emotionally reserved mother and a brilliant, odd-ball country-doctor father who was obsessed with death. She delves into the mystery of her husband Larry’s parents, social climbers from the North whose lives turn out to be far messier and more complicated than they at first appear. And she unravels threads that lead her to uncanny discoveries about generations past, the indelible marks they made on the world, and how these reverberate in her life and work today.

Sorting through boxes of family papers and yellowed photographs, she finds “a payload of southern gothic: deceit and scandal, alcoholism, domestic abuse, car crashes, bogeymen, clandestine affairs, dearly loved and disputed family land, abandonments, blow jobs, suicides, hidden addictions. . . racial complications, vast sums of money made and lost, the return of a prodigal son, and. . . even bloody murder.”

Through words and pictures, Mann crafts a totally original form of personal history that has the page-turning drama of a great novel but is firmly rooted in the fertile soil of her own remarkable life.”
– publisher description

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