Books say: She did this because. Life says: She did this. Books are where things are explained to you; life is where things aren't. I'm not surprised some people prefer books. Books make sense of life. The only problem is that the lives they make sense of are other people's lives, never your own. So complains the frustrated narrator of Julian Barnes's novel Flaubert's Parrot. As if in answer to the complaint, Mary Robinson, Raymond Carver, and others have withheld the explanation, giving us only, ``She did this.'' The strategy has earned them the label ``minimalist'' and sometimes also the objection that their stories are oblique, even opaque. At their best, however, these writers have been rewarded by -- have rewarded us with – their confidence that our experience is entirely adequate to fill the gaps the have so carefully left. Photography is even more minimal, reducing ``She did this'' to ``She is this.'' It relies all the more deeply on the narratives we are able to imagine. The pictures collected here are full of delight and dilemma for the eye and the mind, full of wit and feeling, full of experience. But it would defeat them to claim that they make sense of life. Photography isn't perfect, but then life isn't either.
Life isn't perfect, but then photography isn't either. Indeed photography's imperfections are becoming all too familiar. Often now we hear that there are too many photographs, that we are buried in them. Growing accustomed to the burden of this accumulation has made it difficult to imagine what photographs we might still need.