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Sun City.

Photographs by Peter Granser.
Benteli, Bonn, 2004. Unpaged, 55 color illustrations, 8½x9".

Since the early 20th century, Phoenix has been a place of rest and recuperation for the convalescing, for those with tuberculosis, a case of the nerves, or big-city angst. But today, it's a sprawling metropolis, the 5th largest city in the US, an old-West Los Angeles, sans ocean views. On the fringes of the sun-baked urban sprawl lie several planned communities, Sun City the most famous of them all. The thing about Phoenix that is really abstract is the heat, until you visit. Then it’s all very real. The joke is that “yeah, it's hot, but it's a dry heat.” You know that blast of heat that rises from the oven when you open it to check on the TV dinner? Well, that's the same sensation you get when you step outdoors in Phoenix. It's the heat that accounts for the gravel lawns and the saguaro cacti everywhere; the heat that makes a swimming pool an absolute necessity. And for some reason, Midwesterners—many of them of German heritage—love to retire to Phoenix. Granser, an Austrian living in Germany, has perfectly captured the forgivable oddness of this desert community. With this many old people clearly having the time of their lives, what's there to judge? Read Publisher's Description.

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