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Keaton’s Own Lens

In response to:

Diane Keaton on Photography from the November 8, 2007 issue

To the Editors:

Larry McMurtry’s appreciation of Diane Keaton’s work as the curator and editor of various arcane collections of photographs [NYR, November 8] has the mysterious quality often found in writings about friends. The unsaid hovers over the said, and colors the prose with a kind of eerie glow. But McMurtry carries discretion too far when he fails to mention that Keaton is herself a formidable photographer. The mordant melancholy of Reservations, Keaton’s 1980 book of black-and-white photographs taken in hotel lobbies and banquet rooms, established her place in contemporary photography. Surely these photographs—rather than the collections of which McMurtry writes—form the pendant to Keaton’s wonderful acting career.

Janet Malcolm

New York City

Larry McMurtry replies:

Thanks to Janet Malcolm for calling attention to Reservations, Diane Keaton’s haunting book of photographs. I greatly admire Reservations too and own a photograph or two from this period of Diane’s work. I also own one from her taxidermy period, which has yet to result in a book.

Since Janet Malcolm is about the only person I know of to mention Reservations since 1980 I doubt that that work, singular though it is, established Diane Keaton’s place in contemporary photography. Whatever the case, perhaps she’ll be inclined to pick up her camera again and give us another original collection. Part of her distinction, both as photographer and as curator, is the originality of her projects.

One could argue that Diane’s long involvement with photography has produced variations on the nature of emptiness. My aim in the piece I wrote was mainly to quote her all-but-unknown writings about photography, many of which discuss people who suffer that emptiness.

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