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round-up, round-up… books! Vivian Maier, plus Carol Shields: “The Stone Diaries” and “Swann”

January 16th, 2012

I just ordered a copy of Vivian Maier: Street Photography and am counting the minutes until it gets here. Maier was a photographer who passed away in 2009. I had never heard of her or seen her work until this week’s New Yorker showed up. But then, many people hadn’t. She supported herself by working as a nanny in Chicago and New York. She took photos, and when she died, left a collection of more than 100,000 negatives and more than 3,000 prints. None were published or exhibited during her lifetime. Two shows are up now in New York, exhibiting her work: one at the Howard Greenberg Gallery and one at the Steven Kasher Gallery.

It thrills me that her work is getting the recognition it deserves. Finally.

Another under-appreciated artist is Carol Shields, an American-born Canadian author, and winner of the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for her book “The Stone Diaries.” (Carol Shields’s friend, Margaret Atwood, agrees that Shields is not as well-known as she deserves to be.) I know, I know. “Pulitzer Prize” does not equal “under-appreciated,” and plenty of people read “The Stone Diaries” for various book groups after it won. But whenever I’m asked who my favorite authors are, I always mention her and usually people are unfamiliar with her work.

Her final book was “Unless.” It’s fantastic. And oh, how I love “The Republic of Love.” But my favorite is “Swann,” a creepy, gripping, provocative book about a rural Canadian poet who is “discovered” just hours before she is killed.

Enjoy your books!

— wm

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