Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Oxford Project by Stephen G. Bloom and Peter Feldstein

The excitement I had about The Oxford Project by Stephen G. Bloom that I had when I first received and posted has not diminished! This book is just so fascinating!

In 1984, Peter Feldstein decided to photograph everyone in his town of Oxford, Iowa. He thought it would be interesting and over time was able to get all 676 people photographed. He took all full-length photos with equal lights on each side. These pictures were not great artistically. What was interesting was the variety of the townsfolk, their similarities and differences. He had a few gallery shows at the time.

In 2005, Mr. Feldstein again photographed these folks - or at least as many of the original 676 he could find. Can you imagine those phone calls? He again took full-length photos, this time outside next to a gray wall.

What is the most fascinating about this book and the project is the stories of the people photographed. Mr. Feldstein asked writer Stephen Bloom to talk with about 100 of the people after they were photographed. He got them to tell their life story since 1984, summarized their stories; wrote in first person and made sure each person was okay with what he wrote.

These people are ordinary people yet they are so interesting! Each one has a unique story that is all their own. It is just fascinating to read life stories in short snippets, to see how their bodies have changed over time, and to see how the families have combined and divided.

What struck me is thinking about applying this project in any town or city. Would we find the same uniqueness in each individual's story? I think the answer is 'Of course'! I mean, this is a small town! And yet each person has made different choices, had different life events that shaped them into unique individuals which make up such an interesting town! Just imagine how bigger towns or ones with different life options would provide other unique stories.

But I also noted how similar these folks are to ones I know here or grew up with. Or went to college with. Maybe they look different or have different life options, but the similarities are there across the nation.

Again, it's fascinating to study this book, these people. To delve into a life story told in words and pictures. I will be sharing this book with everyone who comes to my house. You need to get a copy!

Thank you to LibraryThing and their Early Reviewer program for providing the opportunity to review this book. A big thanks to publisher Welcome Books for providing me with a copy of The Oxford Project.

Rating: 5/5 stars


bermudaonion said...

Oh, I bet the individual stories are fascinating. Everyone has a story to tell if we'd only take the time to listen.

Alea said...

Coolest project ever!

sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

This book caught my eye when it was listed on LTER. Interest piqued again when you mentioned that you received it.

Your review has me adding it to my wishlist for the holidays.

(bermudaonion - you are absolutely right; we need to take the time to listen)