Thanks so much to Anne Pyburn Craig for this review of my book in the Bluestone Press newspaper. I'm thrilled.
Here is the content of the review:
Fischer’s book a delightful fresh take on Ulster County scenes
By Anne Pyburn Craig - September 21, 2018
You’ve probably seen a John Fischer photo. His work has graced the Ulster County Travel Guide since 2015 and been featured in these pages since 2012; in fact, the Blue Stone Press apparently gave the Tillson native his first taste of media exposure. (Full disclosure: He’s returned the favor; his book includes portraits of delivery driver Joe Burton loading a BSP machine and Donna Cohn Viertel pinning up a thank you note on the BSP office wall.)
Growing up in Tillson and attending St. Peter’s Church in Rosendale, Fischer was one of those kids who just couldn’t wait to get away. It was the 90s, IBM (his father’s employer) was pulling up stakes, and he just wanted to get out into the big world. After college at Virginia Tech, he got a job in Boston, coming back only for the occasional visit.
But after ten years, Fischer started to get the urge to wander and take pictures, trading the full time job for a Jeep. And the more he saw of the rest of the world, the more he began to feel the pull of home.
It’s not that he’ll never leave again. He’s quite serious about leaving no road unturned and as of 2016, he’d been to all 50 states. But as a man with an eye for beauty and quirk and a desire to capture them, he found himself looking at Ulster County with fresh eyes.
“Familiar with the works of photographers Steve Jordan and Hardie Truesdale, I tried to forge my own take on the area, often based on my experiences of having grown up there,” he writes in the introduction to Ulster County: Discovering Home: A Photographic Exploration By John Fischer.
He’s succeeded in a rather marvelous way. You’ll find iconic sights like Perrine’s Bridge, the Rosendale Trestle, and Mohonk Mountain House, interpreted with Fischer’s own sense of composition, but you’ll also find a lot of lesser-known sights that just happened to spark his fancy. There are views you’ve never gotten to see from the roof of the county office building or the topmost tower of Kingston’s City Hall. There are intimate, fond chronicles of community moments: Frank Marquette getting ready to play Edgar Allan Poe on the Rosendale Theatre stage, a group of ladies enjoying a Senior Luncheon, tailgaters at a Little League game.
There are familiar faces: Richard Murphy at the Egg’s Nest closing party, Manna Jo Greene, Bill Brooks, John Novi, Jeanne Walsh at her supervisor’s desk. There are sights you’ve probably never seen, like the long-abandoned grounds of the Nevele Hotel or the interior of the Culinarians’ Home, or a young Bruderhof woman at her computer in her office.
Fischer says in his introduction that this is not a history book or a comprehensive study, admitting that not only has he not met everyone and seen everything, some of the people he asked declined to be included. Nevertheless, the book is worthy of being included in a time capsule designed to help people understand the region’s character in all its variegated glory and craziness. It works that way because John Fischer is who he is, a guy who likes to wander around being intrigued by stuff and meeting people; he just happens to have a rare gift with light and shadow and form that captures the beauty in the mundane and makes the familiar fresh. (Santa sitting down for a Frozendale festival break in front of Guts-n-Glory Ink, just one of many moments with the feel of Norman-Rockwell-Meets-Alternate-Universe.)
Like Ulster County itself, Fischer’s chronicle pulls together a wide variety of seemingly random themes, people and images into something with an ineffable and completely unique quality too slippery to characterize. Gorgeous panoramas? We got that. Urban decline? We got that too. But through Fischer’s lens, it’s all part of the love story of a man discovering home.
You can purchase Ulster County: Discovering Home at Fischer’s website, noroadunturned.com.A portion of the proceeds is going to Angel Food East, Family of Woodstock, the Rosendale Food Pantry, and Ulstercorps.