Rebecca Norris Webb’s Favorite Book from 2021

Portraits 1910–32 by John Alinder.   Published by Dewi Lewis.

Imagine a creative cousin of Mike Disfarmer, someone who shared the same resolve not to follow the family legacy of becoming a farmer. But instead of moving, like Disfarmer, from his birthplace in rural Indiana to Heber Springs, Arkansas, where he’d eventually become the town’s studio photographer, John Alinder remained in the same Swedish village his entire life — Sävasta — and photographed his rural community. Unlike Disfarmer, Alinder’s eye is often more intimate — the gaze of someone who grew up with the people he photographed, and knew them well. I was completely captivated by the playfulness of the portraits, particularly the two young women perched in a tree, who, on first glance, seem to be floating somehow — not unlike many of Alinder’s rural scenes, which feel mysteriously suspended in time.

Rebecca Norris Webb often interweaves text and photographs in her eight books, including My Dakota and most recently, Night Calls, the latter in which she retraced the route of some of her country doctor father’s house calls through the same rural county where they both were born. Her upcoming collaborative book with Alex Webb, Waves, a kind of pandemic logbook on Cape Cod, will be released in spring 2022 by Radius Books.