Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs

Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs

Sally Mann

Language: English

Pages: 496

ISBN: 0316247758

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The New York Times, Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, Vogue, NPR, Publishers Weekly, BookPage

A revealing and beautifully written memoir and family history from acclaimed photographer Sally Mann.
In this groundbreaking book, a unique interplay of narrative and image, Mann's preoccupation with family, race, mortality, and the storied landscape of the American South are revealed as almost genetically predetermined, written into her DNA by the family history that precedes her.
Sorting through boxes of family papers and yellowed photographs she finds more than she bargained for: "deceit and scandal, alcohol, domestic abuse, car crashes, bogeymen, clandestine affairs, dearly loved and disputed family land . . . racial complications, vast sums of money made and lost, the return of the prodigal son, and maybe even bloody murder."
In lyrical prose and startlingly revealing photographs, she crafts a totally original form of personal history that has the page-turning drama of a great novel but is firmly rooted in the fertile soil of her own life.

















slowly through the pastures to what we now call Dead Boy Hill, just to the left of the catnippy swale I had described in my “rendering” twenty-three years earlier. We set up the camera, facing east toward the Blue Ridge. In the primordial, mint-and-honeysuckle-smelling stew of midsummer, the platters of Queen Anne’s lace balanced motionless on their spindly supports and the distant hills were muzzy with moisture. The lens I was using was from the old rosewood 5 × 7 inch camera that my father had

perfectly pressed linen dress. It was a pale yellow, and centered above her bun was a pillbox hat made of the same fabric. A necklace of white plastic orbs, resembling the South Sea pearls that you now see oppressing the thin collarbones of ladies who lunch, complemented Gee-Gee’s powerfully muscled neck. The skin swelled out above her too-small white pumps and her stockings had compression puckers where the toes were mashed in. No one had stocking seams anymore, but in every other respect she

that omitted any reference whatsoever to slavery. This paradoxical refusal to own up to the horrors of slavery while glorifying the past of which it was a crucial element indelibly blots our ledger book and complicates the often dishonest narrative of our country’s history. The first slave ship to these shores unburdened her cargo in Virginia, and thereafter our majestic James River was compelled to carry the grievous burden of our country’s slave traffic. No Southern state exceeded Virginia in

tendrils—Miss Havisham’s living room writ large. All the workers, despite wrapping their faces with moistened kerchiefs, coughed constantly and their eyes wept. The mortality rate was unavoidably troubling. As it happened, despite being a pretty tough kid, Robert Munger himself had some pulmonary ailments, and when he began working in the gin, his health suffered along with that of his workers. Wheezing and coughing after work, he and his clever bride, Mary, whom he had married in 1878, began to

illegal. These are well-known facts, except possibly in Texas, and they only increased my trepidation as I headed south in the summer of 2011 to find out what I could about my southern ancestors. My mother’s Boston side was pristine (in that respect, anyway), and, of course, it was also on the right side of Civil War history. But I feared the worst from Alabama and Texas. I found it in a sad and provocative letter preserved in the storage chest of my ninety-three-year-old Birmingham relative.

Download sample