cover image Homeless


Howard Schatz, Chronicle Books. Chronicle Books, $24.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-0512-4

Printed in rich duotone, Schatz's ( Seeing Red ) new book of photographs of San Francisco's homeless is fairly dripping with nobility. But the mood is brave, heartening, beneficent. Trying to capture the people, not the plight, Schatz photographed his subjects in front of a black backdrop. Meticulously lit, Avedon-like, the mostly torso-up portraits bring out an etched beauty in faces most of us would ignore. Small interview transcriptions capturing the subjects' internalized stories--how they got to where they are--range from realistic (``The '58 Eisenhower recession hit so everything folded-up and I went back to Chicago. I worked for the newspaper, and after they automated, that was it'') to delusional (``I do open court casework for the U.S. supreme being out here''). The book's intelligent design (done pro bono by Milton Glaser) positions words and pictures on facing pages so they don't interfere with each other. One could feel queasy about Schatz's glamorous portrait style in this particular project, but it's hard to think of a better way to make humanizing pictures of homeless men and women; one copy of the book is being sent to every member of Congress. (Oct.)