Loren's Reviews > The Best of Silent Cities

The Best of Silent Cities by Jeane Trend-Hill
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Jul 28, 2012

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bookshelves: cemetery-books
Read in July, 2012

This little book is jam-packed with photographs, often three to a page. I like being able to see the grave monument in its surroundings, then close-ups of its details, although the layout doesn't vary and sometimes two of the photos are so similar as to be redundant. That said, the photographer records remarkable and beautiful things that I've seen nowhere else, so I'm glad to add this book to my collection.

I particularly like the snippets of information she adds about the monuments. The Bianchi angel that serves an an opera singer's effigy is just lovely. The child statue with a face drawn from a death mask is disturbing. Tingley's mirrored bird in Monteparnasse (misspelled in the book) is so spectacular that it makes me want to go back to that cemetery myself to see it. Also, I like that the monuments are shown in summer and covered with snow, which hints at the depth of the photographer's relationship with the things she photographs.

Unfortunately, the typo is one of several that troubled me. The author inconsistently uses a lowercase C when naming the cemeteries: Greyfriars cemetery, Kensal Green cemetery, East Sheen cemetery. It makes me wonder if the word cemetery is part of the graveyard's name or if it's really a kirkyard or memorial park or burying ground. The grammar geek in me wants proper names to be capitalized.

Also, I wished for an essay or some kind of text longer than a paragraph to put the cemeteries in context. They're mostly British, with inclusions from Paris and Barcelona. Are the monuments contemporary? Why was she drawn to them? Is it the story that draws her or the image?

In the end, I wish the book was longer. Since it's published by lulu.com, it's expensive: nearly a dollar per page, once you add in postage. That's a shame, because I think many people would fall in love with these photos, as I have, if it were more affordable.
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