Monday, April 16, 2012

Publisher's Weekly :: The Modern Maya

The Modern Maya
by Macduff Everton
Nonfiction review

"One, ask people what they are thinking rather than assume that you already know. And two, listen. You never know what someone might say and where it could lead," says the author in Carter Wilson's introduction to this collection of Everton's photos and stories from his 40 years of visiting with the Maya. That Everton has followed his own advice is clear, as the book offers incredible access to the life of the Maya today. Everton asserts in his first chapter, a highly readable short history of the Mayan Civilization, that "The Maya never ‘disappeared' and were never a ‘lost civilization.' In fact, they showed a remarkable capacity to… reinvent themselves." His respect for the 4,000 year history of the Maya suffuses the entire project, but the book's real treasures are the authentic voices of the people Everton meets and befriends--such as Don Celso, who played a Mayan in Mel Gibson's Apocalypto. The numerous photos, ranging in size from the miniscule to full-spreads, are not as powerful as one might expect, but the occasional shot--especially those that feature Macduff immersed in his long-running relationships with his subjects--speaks to the author/photographer's authentic investment in his project and the still-vibrant Mayan people. 385 duotone photos.

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