January 28, 2009

Book review: "Africa: A Photographic Safari," by Carlyle Thompson

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Africa: A Photographic Safari, by Carlyle Thompson
Africa: A Photographic Safari
By Carlyle Thompson
iUniverse / ISBN: 978-0-59544-388-8

As regular readers know, I'm spending the week finally making my way through a whole series of books currently in my reading list that I found only so-so, titles that in some cases have been in my queue for months now; and let's be frank, that these are the books most critics simply stop reading about halfway through and don't review in the first place. But because of my open promise here at CCLaP to review any book a person goes to the trouble to send me, there are simply titles here sometimes that I need to deal with in one way or another that most critics don't, and such a thing can sometimes result in an awkward situation, one where I don't have much to say about it but don't want to ignore it either. Take today's book under consideration, for example, Carlyle Thompson's Africa: A Photographic Safari, which I feel bad about panning because its intentions are so damn noble: it's the diary of a black American on his very first trip to Africa, what turned out to be a profound experience that brought him to a closer relationship with both his race and the god he worships. But, you know...it's a diary, with all the implications that come with that; it's a very dry, very factual, very detail-oriented account of Thompson's trip, interesting from the aspect of what happens next but not exactly a compelling piece of literature when all is said and done.

Ultimately I'm always glad that such books exist, because it proves again what's so great about the arts in this decentralized day and age; that nearly everyone now can put together some sort of cool, interesting, professional-looking creative project, based on an experience from their past that meant a lot to them, perfect to share with friends and family members or perhaps stick up on a blog for all to see. But there's a difference, a legitimate difference, between this and a manuscript worthy of being sold for 15 dollars to the general public, and creators of such projects owe it to themselves to be aware of that; what a shame, I many times think in these situations, that the author is trying to sell such a book commercially and will most likely receive almost no interest, when they could instead share their story for free online and have plenty of fans. It's for these reasons that I consider Africa: A Photographic Safari the very definition of a middle-of-the-road book, which is why today it's getting the very definition of a middle-of-the-road score.

Out of 10: 7.5

Read even more about Africa: A Photographic Safari: Official site | Amazon | GoodReads | LibraryThing | Shelfari

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Filed by Jason Pettus at 3:56 PM, January 28, 2009. Filed under: Literature | Literature:Nonfiction | Reviews |