Wisconsin Death Trip Paperback – 30 Jan 2000
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"Protestants behaving strangely in the 1890's. . . . an outbreak of craziness--multiple murders, suicides, ghost sightings, epidemics, guntoting teenagers, schoolmarms hooked on cocaine and general mental illness (well, an insane asylum was nearby)--all in a little town called Black River Falls, populated mostly by German and Scandinavian immigrants."
Compelling both as history and as literature, it is a small masterpiece of the historians art.
Lesys reading of rural decay is history with a wrench, unfolding a scenario worthy of Dreiser, Faulkner, or Joyce Carol Oates at their grimmest.
ÝThis¨ is an impressive example of the poetry of history. . . . There can be no question that this original work makes us deeply feel one form that misery has taken; and in causing us to feel, as well as consider, "Wisconsin Death Trip "has enlarged on the uses of history.
Protestants behaving strangely in the 1890s. . . . an outbreak of crazinessmultiple murders, suicides, ghost sightings, epidemics, guntoting teenagers, schoolmarms hooked on cocaine and general mental illness (well, an insane asylum was nearby)all in a little town called Black River Falls, populated mostly by German and Scandinavian immigrants.
In Van Schaicks time, ordinary people did not have cameras, difficult contraptions that involved black powder and heavy glass plates; to record the passages of a lifebirths, marriages, store openings, funeralsso they turned to a professional. Lesy noticed Van Schaickss many pictures of dead infants and children, dressed in their christening gowns, now placed in tiny coffins. As he looked for the story behind these photos, he found a story of plagues: of murder, suicide, farm and business failures, madness, addiction, tramp armies, and the ruin of childhood and the desolation of families by epidemics of diptheria, typhoid, smallpox, and flu. Lesy made a montage, using items from the local paper, contemporaneous regional fiction and poetry, asylum records and the photographs left by Van Schaick, who in Lesys pages emerges as Arbuss unknown ancestor
[This] is an impressive example of the poetry of history. . . . There can be no question that this original work makes us deeply feel one form that misery has taken; and in causing us to feel, as well as consider, "Wisconsin Death Trip "has enlarged on the uses of history.
From the Inside Flap
A shocking portrait of a small town crumbling--socially, morally, physically and emotionally--under the impact of the great depression of the 1890s. This "cult classic" is now available again in paperback.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
This book does make you wonder, what on earth was happening in Wisconsin to make people act this crazy? Reading it, the answer is quite clear that the harsh situations these people were living in, were enough to make even the sanest person start to act a little strangely.
I originally bought this for the photography. I am a professional photographer and a keen enthusiast of early photography. This book most certainly did not disappoint. The photographs speak volumes of the era and give an insight into the workings of a fragile and unstable area. Charles Van Schaick's images are bold, delicate, strange (sometimes quite unsettling in fact), heartfelt, and in many cases quite pioneering. He has a photographer's eye unlike any I have seen before from his era.
I cannot recommend this book enough, it is by far one of my favourite books of all time, and I am certain that if you purchase it, it will have a place in your heart as well.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love the film which was made based on this book, so I naturally wanted the book itself, and waited years for one to come on the market for under a tenner. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Mrs. E. A. Molloy
Really good book. Became quite fond of Mary Sweeney the window smasherPublished 16 months ago by Julia Kapherr
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