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160 boring postcards of the British Isles, reproduced as they have been found, actual size, from the collection of the iconoclast of British photograhy, Martin Parr. This is a serious art book, a depiction of a tragic Britain with tragic taste, and a photographic entertainment which a large audience will enjoy. As the title of this little book suggests, each of the postcards that fill its pages is, in a sense, quite boring. Stale, often dully composed images of corporate headquarters, roadways, bus-station parking lots, convalescent-home dayrooms, hospital cafeterias, and undistinguished motels. But look carefully, and the cards--culled from the collection of artist Martin Parr--are filled with fascinating little details. As a group, they offer readers the interesting opportunity to puzzle over the collective psyche of the people of the 1950s and '60s (the approximate vintage of the images) who were inclined to create, buy, and send these cards. What, one can't help but wonder, could be so scintillating about a room at the Fortes Excelsior Motor Lodge near Pontefract, Yorkshire? The singular force of the orange bedspreads, carpet, drapes, and walls punctuated by the inexplicably white leather upholstered panel attached to the wall unit behind each of the room's beds. The exterior of the Mirfield Modern School, shot at a distance and unimaginatively placed dead in the center of the gray sky and green playing field? The building's Bauhaus-like lines. The tarmac of Luton Airport in London? The pink jumbo jet being towed into the frame from the left. The uniformly shaped trailers parked at the Freshwater Caravan Camp? The handwritten X that presumably marks the sender's location. The Chalets at Llandanwg? Arguably, not much. The few hundred images here, unfettered by any explanatory text, offer a far from dull diversion for any readers interested in mid-century design or the mundane details of daily life. --Jordana Moskowitz
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