Still looking for a holiday gift for that literary person on your list? A Journey Through Literary America is a collaborative work by writer Thomas R. Hummel and photographer Tamra L. Dempsey. The publisher’s site describes the book: “This 304 page coffee table book takes a look at 26 of America’s great authors and the places that inspired them. Unique to this book of literary biography is the element of the photograph. With over 140 photographs throughout, the images add mood and dimension to the writing – and they are often shockingly close to what the featured authors described in their own words.”
It is indeed a gorgeous book. Neither the text nor photos dominate, but work well in harmony to create a book that can be browsed for its images or curled up with and delved into for its writing. The content on the featured authors provides commentary about their lives in the places where they lived. Even if you already know the background of these authors (click here for the table of contents), seeing them recounted here in context with the photographs adds a new, warmer sense of story to their lives. The information looks both at the authors’ lives past as well as how they continue to be recognized within the community in which they lived, and in some cases, in which their characters lived.
Additionally, the authors are running a writing contest on the theme My Hometown: “We want you to write about your hometown (we leave it up to you how you choose to define the term, whether it be the town your grew up in, the town you have adopted as your own, the place that feels most like ‘home.’) The most important thing is that your entry must strongly evoke place.” Deadline August 1, 2010.