The Sweet Flypaper of Life. Photographs by Roy DeCarava. Text by Langston Hughes. Simon & Schuster, New York, 1955. 98 pp. Octavo . Stated First printing. INSCRIBED by Langston Hughes with a warm note, 'Especially for/ Lucille Davis,/with my thanks/ for the charming/ decor for my/ Poetry-to-Jazz/program tonight/Sincerely/Langston Hughes/Palo Alto/December 8, 1958' [The program was presented by the Palo Alto-Stanford Branch of the NAACP]. Hardbound quarter cloth in dust jacket. 141 black-and-white illustrations.
In The Photobook: A History, Vol. I Martin Parr and Gerry Badger explain that as the reformist drive of much documentary work began to diminish, supplanted by a more "personal kind of expression," many photographers "rejected the close marriage of image and text that characterized the 1930s documentary photobook. Photography became more overtly elliptical, playing deliberately on the medium's ambiguities...Sweet Flypaper was published not as an out-and-out social documentary book, but with DeCarava's 'real life' images illustrating a fictional text by Hughes about life in Harlem...The most significant feature of The Sweet Flypaper of Life (apart from its great title) is not its indeterminate status as fact, fiction, or even 'faction', but that a leading mainstream publisher took the chance of publishing a view of a minority community from the 'inside'."
Trace of fading to extremities, otherwise Fine in Near Fine+/Fine- jacket w/ a bit of wear to edges and 'tips'; three tiny (less than 1/4 in./1 cm.) closed edge tears.