16. “Violent Legacies: three cantos” by Richard Misrach; fiction by Susan Sontag

Violent Legacies: three cantos by Richard Misrach; fiction by Susan Sontag 

Here is yet another haunting series of photographs to add to Misrach’s cantos. The book begins with project w-47 (the secret), a group of images documenting the remains of Wendover Air Base where the final stages developing of the atomic bomb were carried out in western Utah in 1945. The existence of this project is denied. The stark, brown landscape is specked with what’s left, a desolate expanse of forgotten past. The next canto is the pit, the site of an atomic fallout from 1953. The area is now meant to be barren and lifeless. The animals that to attempt to live here die in random and abominable numbers. The bodies are disposed of in “county-designated dead-animal pits.” The third and last canto of this book is the playboys, a collection of Playboy magazines found on the northwest corner of the Nuclear Test Site inNevada. Used for target practice, the cover models are filled with holes, but the internal damage is what Misrach highlights in this set of page turners.

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