Vista Del Mar, a memoir of the ordinary, published by Counterpoint Press, is the record of one person’s journey into the land of the past, enabled by images of those haunted locales. Kirkus called it “profound,” a “subtly poignant and lyrical memoir.”
The purpose of this website is to introduce book and author to you, most honored guest. Welcome.
“Flawless. A perfect recreation of a Southern California post WW II childhood.”
Jane Vandenburgh, author of The Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth Century
“Vista Del Mar is a rumination on photography, language, geography, history, family, and memory, all wrapped into a story about how the places we live resonate through everything we do. This is a book that will stay with me for a long long time.”
Christian Kiefer, author of The Animals
Here are some links of interest:
HuffPost Review by Jane Vandenburgh
Interviews with Neal on North State Public Radio
July 15, 2016: http://www.tinyurl.com/juu7q2y
September 2, 2016: http://www.tinyurl.com/zhvoq4j
Vista Del Mar is available on Amazon, at Green Apple Books in San Francisco, and at the Bookstore in downtown Chico
Neal will be glad to visit, read and discuss, if schedules can be arranged…
Click the Contact Link at the bottom of this page
Leave a message,
And he will get back to you!
This remarkable book joins the company of “self-work,” deep acts of memory that serve to illuminate the present by shining the clear light of careful regard on the past. The book finds company in the work of D.J. Waldie’s Holy Land, Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem, and the profound My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard.
In 1996, Neal Snidow found himself at a personal impasse as he and his wife struggled in vain to have a child. Locked in sadness at their predicament, in mid-career as a college teacher and unpublished writer, and at the first daunting steps of open adoption, as a kind of solace Neal began taking black-and-white photos of his old neighborhood in southern California. The film was slow, the camera on a tripod, the process awkward, and the goal no more than Garry Winogrand’s famous dictum that he made pictures “to find out what something will look like photographed.”
But as this process unfolded and the images began to accumulate, slowly but surely the pictures unlocked the past, and he began to delve into family history, opening out the secret and the unspoken and evoking the lost pleasures and losses of the beach town where he had grown up. The chapters that followed, like the photos that now accompanied them, were quietly observant of an ordinary surface around which gathered an aura of struggle, gaiety and loss. He titled the book Vista Del Mar, for the street that ran past his old apartment to the edge of the Pacific, and gave it the subtitle “A Memoir of the Ordinary” in testimony to the everydayness of the experiences he explored. The chapters move back and forth in time and place, to Virginia, to a homestead in Wyoming, to depression-era Nebraska, to the Second World War.