William Morgan: 'On Cape Cod' celebrates 'ebullience of the summer Cape'

On Cape Cod, Photographs and text by Don Krohn; 175 pp.; David R. Godine, Publisher; $29.95.

            If you cannot get to the Cape this summer – you  refuse to fight the traffic, you can't afford the exorbitant rentals, the old family cottage has been sold, leveled, and replaced by a hedge fund manager's McMansion – then some time with Don Krohn's new book, On Cape Cod, will slake a little of your thirst for beaches and cranberry bogs.

  Signs, Truro

Signs, Truro

 

 

            All the pictures were taken in the summer. "They depict the ebullience of the summer Cape that is so easy to love," notes Australian writer and Vineyard resident Geraldine Brooks in her introduction. "A primary-colored place illuminated by tumbles of beach roses and impossibly blue hydrangeas, glossy-painted dinghies and buoys, bright beach umbrellas an suntanned faces."

            Krohn, the Brandeis- and Harvard-educated founder of Main Street Books in Orleans, offers up exceptionally handsome images of standard Cape fare: antiques shops, ice cream stands, shingled houses, jam jars and abundant flora and fauna. Some of his shots are abstract compositions, and most are artistically strong.

 Four Girls Swimming, Old Silver Beach, Falmouth

Four Girls Swimming, Old Silver Beach, Falmouth

 

            One senses that this book is actually three: the photos, plus a couple of extended essays. The "Photographer's Note" is a wonderful 12-page exegesis on history, craft, art and life.

            "Fortnight in the Dunes" is a thrice-longer journal of time spent in an artist's shack outside of Provincetown. These simple shelters have been getaways and creative sojourns for the likes of Eugene O'Neill, Jack Kerouac, Jackson Pollock, William de Kooning, Tennessee Williams, and Norman Mailer. Krohn's particular cottage was built in 1940 by Russian surrealist painter Boris Margo and his wife Jan Gelb as a summer retreat.

 View from inside Boris's Shack, Provincetown

View from inside Boris's Shack, Provincetown

 

Krohn writes: "We gathered some sea lettuce which had been tossed upon the beach in abundance in the recent ocean churn, rinsed it numerous times at the pump to remove the sand, and enjoyed it for lunch tossed with olive oil and, of course, sea salt."

Willam Morgan is an architectural historian, essayist and photographer. He is the author of, among other books, The Cape Cod Cottage (Princeton Architectural Press).