Recommended: "How Many Roads?"

I spent an afternoon immersed in Jonathan Sa'addah's just-released book of photographs, "How Many Roads?" I began in daylight and was so engrossed that darkness fell before I turned the last page—like the era itself, as it moved from Woodstock to Watergate.

Those of you properly old enough to be in the Passage will immediately identify the opening phrase from one of the most-performed songs of the era, Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind", but the title also evokes the building of the Interstate expressway that displaced New England farms and rural communities, and the 'roads' sought by many youths of the '60s to early '70s—the period documented by the book's ninety-one photographs.

In 120 gorgeously-printed pages, images of fury, tenderness, hope, and the occasional guffaw (if you've ever lived through a VW van's engine fire) evoke more than nostalgia; I wondered, What has remained of that hunger for change? And there is love, too: luminous children, unself-conscious rural beauties, a burnished stove's facade. 

Jonathan Sa'addah and Beth Adams at the book launch

The book is enriched by several essays; Beth Adams, artist and writer of the blog The Cassandra Pages (and also Jonathan Sa'addah's wife), has contributed a richly descriptive memoir, and I appreciated Hoyt Alverson's timeline; after forty-some years, I no longer recalled the exact sequence of landmark events.

At that time, several hundred miles to the west, I lived through similar demonstrations, homesteads and songs, but my enthusiasm for this book is not strictly time-bound. The photographs witness the ardor of youth in any era, and the trying, exhilarating responsibility of citizenship, regardless of one's country. 

"How Many Roads?" is an important documentary work, and at the same time, an artistic pleasure. You can order it here, in soft or hardcover editions, including one with a signed print. 

8 comments

Janice Riggs said...

Thanks for bringing this book to my attention - I too wonder why people are now so completely CONTENT with the status quo, when our current situation isn't just all that great. The impulse to work for change needs to be reawakened in us all!

une femme said...

Oh, this sounds like a good one to add to my reading list. Thanks for the review and recommendation!

materfamilias said...

What a great review! You make this sound like something I must add to my list. Thanks!

lagatta à montréal said...

Cassandra Pages most interesting psst, with more photos of the launch, and a bellissima calico cat on a splendid quilt.

I'm trying to see how I can relate this book to boomer generation chronicles here; next year is the 40th anniversary of Le Monde à bicyclette and many "associations populaires" are celebrating similar anniversaries these years.

Janice, while those people exist here too, there are hell of a lot of people (of all generations) here in Québec who are not at all content with the status quo. And I don't mean just a particular political party but a life that is more and more commodified.

vive la vélorution!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the heads-up; I probably would have missed this, and that would have been a shame. If this book lives up to half of what has been written about it, then it is a keeper -- and the unique, meaningful gift for a couple of friends this Christmas.

I wonder how all the idealism of the 60s in my age group could have disappeared so completely now, or so it seems. Maybe we don't all need to be out marching -- and maybe we do, although heavens, I do hope we can be better dressed the second time around, LOL. In any case, we should damn well remember what it is to care about others. Mary

LPC said...

Sounds good. Sounds poignant. I feel like I'm about 2 years too young to have been a true participant - but the era had impact on everyone, as you point out.

Beth said...

Duchesse, this post was so kind -- thank you for writing about J.'s book so generously! If any of your readers would like to order a copy, Phoenicia would be happy to give them a discount/refund if they mention they heard about it here.

lagatta à montréal said...

Beth, it might be useful to see if libraries could also order the book, given that it is by local authors. Since Phoenecia is a Montréal publisher, the BANQ should have copies by default, but local branch libraries are also interested in books by writers living in their neighbourhood. I know that the Outremont Library has many books by Outremont writers, I don't know if there is a similary policy at Bibliothèque Marc-Favreau (though it could also wind up in nearby Mile-End library as they have more anglophone readers).

I hope you got a glance at the very large march for CBC-Radio-Canada, on Sunday!