A Family Album (Magill's Literary Annual 1979)
David Darryl Galloway, distinguished essayist, teacher, lecturer, literary critic, and connoiseur of art, is also a first-rate novelist. A Family Album, unconventional in format and meticulously executed, could well serve as a model for ambitious new writers. With skill and artistry the writer combines in his short book much about the social history of the South since 1880 and the history of photography—an ingenious combination and one which would pose difficulty for anyone less knowledgeable about both.
Leafing through family photographs leads to capricious imaginings about those who operated the cameras and the subjects who posed for the pictures. Not content with authentic identifications, the viewer prefers to analyze completely each detail in the picture before assigning to characters the names they might have had, the lives they might have lived. In interpreting these representations, past, present, and future are considered; emotions and moral attitudes are analyzed; physical characteristics are described.
The mood of the novel is established by a prefatory letter purportedly written in 1832 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce (1765-1833) to his son Isidore Niépce. An artful blend of fiction and fact, the letter is introduced by a quotation from an actual letter of October 23, 1829, in which Joseph Nicéphore Niépce agreed to cooperate with Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre (1787-1851) in perfecting Niépce’s heliographic method of...
(The entire section is 1689 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1979)
Best Sellers. XXXVIII, July, 1978, p. 103.
Christian Science Monitor. April 21, 1978, p. 26.
New Republic. CLXXVIII, May 13, 1978, p. 37.
New York Times Book Review. April 16, 1978, p. 15.
New Yorker. LIV, May 15, 1978, p. 157.
(The entire section is 27 words.)