cover image Now Is Then: Snapshots from the Maresca Collection

Now Is Then: Snapshots from the Maresca Collection

Marvin Heiferman. Princeton Architectural Press, $29.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-1-56898-748-4

This delightful, small-scale coffee table tome is perfect for anyone whose curiosity has been piqued while sifting through abandoned family snapshots in an antique store. Offering highlights from the Maresca collection of photographs housed at the Newark Musuem, each of these anonymous, care-worn photographs provides a potent glimpse of America between the 1920s and '60s, long before throw-away digital photography rendered amateur picture-taking less deliberate, more ephemeral. Among three essays and an interview with Frank Maresca, the standout is English professor Nancy Martha West's, in which she confides a desire to ""invent a story for almost every snapshot in this catalog""; it's a sentiment readers will find contagious. Ultimately, the book proves not only a tour-de-force social document of the 20th century, but also a testament to the power of even the most amateur of photographers to capture and preserve a singular moment of long-forgotten life.