July 31, 2008

The Daddy Reads At Night

from At Night, by Philip Ressner and Charles Pratt

St George, Utah, a sleepy Mormon pioneer town in the desert my in-laws just retired to, has all grown up. It even has a great used bookstore run by friendly, rainbow stickered Subaru-driving Obama supporters, which is where I found a few more additions to the DT collection of vintage children's books that use photographs instead of illustrations.

At Night was published in 1967 by Philip Ressner, with photos by Charles Pratt. It's a quick, simple, and naturalistic essay of what the New York City kid's missing when she's asleep.

Ressner's text gets a little too self-consciously poetic sometimes--like the silvery silver up there on the ice cream truck, or saying "Outside, the air smells secret."--but it's fine, and Pratt's photos seem refreshingly offhand, the difference between what you'd find and what's staged or presented.


I couldn't get one of Pratt's best shots, View of Poughkeepsie, 1961, to scan very well, but it's included in a nice slideshow of his works at Robert Mann Gallery [Pratt studied with Lisette Modell and died in 1976.]

I paid $5, but decent old copies of At Night are on Amazon for $2 and up. Don't let me hear you paid $100 for it, though. Even a Pratt-signed edition is only $50 on AbeBooks. [amazon, abebooks]
Charles Pratt [robertmann.com]

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