Review: The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings by KayLynn Deveney and Albert Hastings


Book Reviews, Photobooks

We live in a culture that reveres youth. That’s because on the average young people display the largest amounts of restraint, discipline, experience, and wisdom — all properties our culture thrives upon. On second thought, in the previous sentence “because” might not be the right word. In any case, if you want to find out about the lives of young people, you will not have to spend a lot of time on research. In fact, you won’t have to make any effort, since the lives of young people are on display everywhere.

But what about old people, people who are, say, seventy years old (or even older)? We might know some of them as the people we call (or used to call) our grandparents. And if you watch CSPAN (a US TV channel that broadcasts live from, for example, the US Senate), you might be familiar with old people in the form of Supreme Court judges or US Senators (people you probably find quite a bit weirder and less lovable than your grandparents - unless they are your grandparents, of course). How do old people live? What do we know about their lives?

The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings is a wonderful little book with photography by KayLynn Deveney, about an acquaintance of the photographer’s, Albert Hastings, an elderly widower living alone. The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings contains photos of Albert’s life, still lifes, portraits, anything that might serve as a detail of the life of a man nearing the end of it (in addition to KayLynn’s photos, there are also reproductions of some of Albert’s family photos and poems). Underneath each photo, there is a little description written by Albert, each a facsimile of his hand writing on an index card.

It is these captions that add immensely to the portrayal of the old man’s life, since they provide a glimpse into the his mind. The aspect of collaboration that is inherent in a portrait thus becomes even more pronounced, and the reader finds himself getting as attached to the charming old man as the photographer did when she got to meet him.

It really is quite a wonderful little book, a book for a quiet moment, a meditation on life in the form of something that you don’t easily get to see everywhere. Do yourself a favour and buy the book, you’re not going to regret it.