Tuesday, October 16, 2007

All the Leaves are [not] Brown

A New England Autumn

by Ferenc Máté
Albatross Publishing, September 2007
160 pages/hardcover/103 color photographs/$39.95

Reviewed by Jain Lemos

Novelist, master sailor, winemaker and yes, photographer, Ferenc Máté’s new book, A New England Autumn, showcases the region’s most pristine forests and tranquil locations. The book lives up to its promise: “For lovers of nature and fine writing.” Unfortunately, this marquee pronouncement is mistakenly placed in an obscure location on the inside jacket flap. Until readers peruse the contents pages and beyond there is little on the face of this book to indicate the riches inside.

While the cover image of a white country church surrounded by fall colors is pretty, the overall concept is missed if the book is not opened. The substance of the project is the assembling of Máté’s images with passages by New England writers. These are significantly familiar authors including Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, E. E. Cummings, and Henry David Thoreau.

Once drawn in, New England Autumn is formatted in a brooding style. An excerpt from a legendary book or poem is followed by uncaptioned photographs celebrating the season’s palette and splendor. The pace is relaxing and writing and image selections appropriately flatter each other.

Máté’s images are spotless in this collection and he captures the unharmed glory of New England. Typical fall symbols show up. There are pumpkins, old barns, reflecting pools of water, antique farm equipment, tranquil harbors and billions and billions of leaves. There are few never-before-seen subjects from these well-traveled and overly photographed North East locations but the images are comforting.

The large trim size provides ample room for Máté’s photographs to be appreciated. Yet, because the famous accompanying text has such a strong impact upon the ensemble, a smaller and accordingly more intimate volume is imaginable. Either way, New England Autumn is enjoyable and a great rumination.

After these inspiring words and visuals is another surprise by way of a closing appendage. A New England Tour Planner explains which routes to take to see fall color displays. The section includes illustrated state maps and identifying drawings of indigenous trees and leaves.

There is one more hidden element. The book has a subtitle: A Sentimental Journey. Under full examination such a voyage unfolds.

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