Jon Evans’s Favorite Book from 2021

The Local by Nick Meyer.   Published by MACK.

In The Local, Nick Meyer documents his hometown of Greenfield, MA with the canny eye of one who knows it through and through — and yet is still discovering it for the first time. He reveals a weariness in the cracked streets and cracked lips of its residents, symbolic of an America short on economic opportunity and long on indifference. Signs of hope crop up, only to be undermined by a succession of images that affirm a slow but persistent deterioration. The book’s sequencing and layout exhibit a rhythmic quality that moves us ever forward, much like the community that he records. Unlike Robert Frank’s vision of America, Meyer’s is one told compassionately from an insider’s perspective and yet he too has managed to suck a sad poem out of a slice of America that could be a stand-in for thousands of other cities across our country.

Jon Evans is Chief of Libraries & Archives at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. He is currently co-organizing an exhibition devoted to interactive or object-like photobooks produced over the course of the past 100 years. The Photobook Unbound will open at the Houston Center for Photography in March 2022.