The Glen Rock Book of the Dead (Counterpoint)
In this slim but potent volume, Winik recalls 51 people, all now dead, who've touched her in some meaningful way. A lecturer at University of Baltimore's School of Communication Design, Winik succinctly pays tribute to a wide array of family, friends, and acquaintances with a deft balance of nuanced wit and piercing insight. More character sketch than straight obit, each piece speaks to the magic of memory and loss instead of focusing on biographical detail. As a result, the pieces collectively function as an offhand, slippery, multifaceted memoir of the author herself. And Winik turns out to be the most compelling character of the lot.
David W. Harp and Tom Horton
The Nanticoke: Portrait of a Chesapeake River (The Johns Hopkins University Press)
Harp and Horton are a dynamic duo when it comes to photographing and writing about the Chesapeake. Like the pair's previous efforts (Water's Way: Life along the Chesapeake and The Great Marsh: An Intimate Journey into a Chesapeake Wetland), this book matches Harp's stunning nature photography with Horton's shrewd observations and informed analysis. Harp captures the Nanticoke's majesty and modesty—showing us the forest and the trees, the field and the flowers, the rippling tide and its droplets—and Horton provides context that heightens appreciation for and broadens knowledge of the subject. They also introduce us to various locals, watermen, and environmentalists along the way, treating them with the same dignified respect they show the Nanticoke. And as the pages go by, a full and satisfying portrait of this unique body of water does, indeed, emerge.
Leon Kagarise (photos), Eddie Dean (text), Robert Gordon (foreword)
Pure Country: The Leon Kagarise Archives 1961-1971 (Process Media)
During the 1960s, when country wasn't cool, some of the genre's biggest stars turned up at far-flung venues such as New River Ranch outside Baltimore and Sunset Park near Philadelphia. The mainstream media may have ignored such shows, but Towson's Leon Kagarise didn't. Kagarise, who passed away last year, meticulously documented them on reel-to-reel audiotapes and color slides. His recordings were pristine, as were his photographs of Johnny Cash, George Jones, the Stanley Brothers, and Bill Monroe. In this amazing collection of Kagarise's photos, we see such iconic performers far from the glitz of Nashville, performing on tiny stages and circulating casually among fans and families (accommodations were spartan, the shows were all ages, and admission was a dollar a carload). It's an astonishing peek at a scene that was mostly overlooked in its time.