Vanishing America: The End of Main Street Diners, Drive-Ins, Donut Shops, and Other Everyday Monuments

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9780847830404: Vanishing America: The End of Main Street Diners, Drive-Ins, Donut Shops, and Other Everyday Monuments
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Think of the quirky buildings you pass every day but whose quiet beauty you take for granted—the moviehouses, juke joints, soda fountains, barbershops, roadside diners, and storefront churches. You don’t miss them until they’re gone. As suburban sprawl and strip malls conquer the country, these vestiges of a lost way of life are falling under the wrecking ball. Here the photographer Michael Eastman has made the ultimate road trip, crisscrossing the nation dozens of times, to capture these buildings on film before they vanish. These dreamy images call us to question what we choose to let go in the wake of contemporary life, with a cool melancholy that evokes the work of Edward Hopper, Jack Kerouac, and William Eggleston. There is a wry sense of humor here as well. The book delights in the idiosyncracies of America’s vernacular styles, ranging from Depression Deco to New England clapboard in random juxtapositions that accrue over time in a town’s landscape. Countless visual puns arise among the book’s many detailed images of signs and statuettes. Vanishing America catalogues great everyday American architecture and design. But it also offers a provocative portrait of the silent emptiness that has descended upon vanishing small communities everywhere.

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About the Author:

Michael Eastman’s work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the International Center of Photography, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant and has published two previous books of photography. He lives in St. Louis.

Review:

"...a liberation from the glaring rat race of American life." ~LA Times

"Eastman's photos of fading American kitsch...are like a post-apocalyptic stage set for lost mid-century dreams." ~Print

"Texture, variety, human scale--these are what we stand to lose when these places disappear. Consider it a call to arms." ~National Geographic Traveler

"The careful excision of human life forces us to focus on what might otherwise seem unremarkable, sweeping aside the dust to expose the archaeological strata of US society that still lie there beneath the modern." ~World of Interiors

“Shot without people, the photos capture the crumbling decay of movie houses, diners, drive-ins, and so on across the United States. ...Eastman, who has a terrific eye and knows how to stay out of the way of his subjects, photographed most of these places with an unvarnished objectivity that veers away from nostalgia toward despair.” ~Su Casa Magazine

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Eastman, Michael, Gass, William H.
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Michael Eastman
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