Thirtyfour Campgrounds

Martin Hogue. MIT, $34.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-262-03500-2
In this photographic and typological survey of American campsites, Hogue masterfully dissects the paradox of the contemporary campground, a plot not found on the trail but reserved online, and increasingly offering comforts and amenities that undermine any concept of the rustic. Tables and restrooms and Wi-Fi and other fripperies may multiply, a bare site remains both demand and expectation, he explains in the introduction; “to preserve the carefully staged illusion of discovering and dwelling in the wilderness, the modern campsite must function as a perpetually unfinished site, provisionally completed each time a new visitor checks in.” Declaredly indebted to Ed Ruscha’s Thirtyfour Parking Lots (1967), Hogue’s book uses photos from advertisements for sites from private and state operators. The campgrounds are willfully standardized and often featureless, larger vistas foiled by the grid outside each hired plot. It’s a theoretically fascinating presentation and yet, after the introduction’s penetrating exploration of the nature and history of the campground, a little boring. Readers who search will occasionally find a mountain or a river. Color photos. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/16/2017
Release date: 09/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
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