Re: RARA-AVIS: HB nonfiction

Mark Sullivan (
Thu, 2 Jul 1998 23:54:27 -0400 (EDT) For hardboiled non-fiction, I would have to nominate the photo books of
Weegee, particularly Naked City. Many of his photos were crime scenes
around New York City, but also fires, circuses and opera crowds. He had
a way of cutting to the quick and was very influential on later, artier,
but still hardboiled, photos of Anne Arbus, Lisette Model and,
especially, Robert Frank (check out his The Americans). And for those
who think there was no art in the work of Weegee, just luck in stumbling
upon great subject matter, compare it to Evidence by Luc Sante, a
picture book collecting century-old police crime scene photos.

Which brings me to my other nominee for hardboiled non-fiction, Luc
Sante's Low Life, which chronicles the life of the poor in New York City
around the turn of the century. In this decidedly unsentimental and
meticulously researched volume, Sante reveals how most of the people in
the city did not live like characters in Henry James novels.

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