cover image Prairie Visions: The Life and Times of Solomon Butcher

Prairie Visions: The Life and Times of Solomon Butcher

Pam Conrad. HarperCollins Publishers, $17 (85pp) ISBN 978-0-06-021373-2

Conrad first discovered Nebraska photographer and chronicler Solomon Butcher while researching her novel Prairie Songs ; she then ``made him up'' and he became a character in that book. Now Conrad has returned to the archives to present the real Butcher in informative but lighthearted prose and Butcher's own delightful, often quirky photos. The prairie photographer comes across in these pages as a man with a vision, but also as a man with a sense of humor, and one who wasn't exactly driven by his dream. Accused of being ``afraid of work,'' Solomon replied, ``On the contrary, I could lie down and go to sleep alongsic side of it at any time.'' His photographs of careworn, unsmiling prairie families squinting into the sun outside their ``soddies'' speak volumes about their hard lives, and the stories he collected and recorded are valuable (and frequently hilarious) memorials to a bygone era. Ages 10-up. (Mar.)