After spending time with Shinya Fujiwara’s American Roulette, I just had to have more, and so I went on a hunt. His 1978 travel guidebook Kashmir popped up and I think I paid all of $7 for it… Win!
Kashmir is volume #60 of Kodansha International’s ‘This Beautiful World’ series of guidebooks, and this English edition was translated by Margaret F. Breer. My copy is a first (and I suspect only) edition, 1978, and it’a former library book that belonged to the State Library of Western Australia, first stamped there February 12, 1979. I’m pretty sure my copy came from the US, somewhere, so thanks to whoever pulled it out of Australia!
Kashmir is a guidebook: Fujiwara writes about traveling to and around Kashmir, the people, the scenery, hotels and hostels, a few restaurants, natural resources and regional products, day trips from Srinagar, and etc. As such, it’s not a “photobook” in the traditional sense: pictures appear 2, 3, 5 to a page and each has a brief comment/description; the printing quality is good and I believe it yellowed over time; the text is more factual and informative than subjective or performative. The photography is good, with a few standouts that look like Fujiwara, and most of it is straight commercial-type work, meant, again, as a factual document rather than a subjective interpretation.
If I’m honest, I strongly prefer the more subjective feel of American Roulette, and I’m happy to have Kashmir in my collection.
Rocky Cruise… what can I say about Shinya Fujiwara’s Rocky Cruise? Well, given that it’s entirely in Japanese… not much. I paid a fair bit more for Rocky Cruise than Kashmir… I don’t recall how much, maybe 10x or 15x. A note in pencil from a bookshop somewhere reads “3/18 100.00 1st ed w/ wraparound band signed” and indeed, my copy is signed in what looks like a brush and sumi ink. Hunting around these days, though, you can find a copy for $20 or so easily… hopefully I didn’t pay $100 for this book that I can’t read…
Rocky Cruise is almost entirely text. There are 4 black & white pictures in it from the American Roulette series. From what I understand, Rocky Cruise is Fujiwara’s notebooks from his time in the US when he made American Roulette, but I might be wrong… I only say that because the photograph on the cover and the ones reproduced inside are all from that earlier series. A better reviewer might actually know Japanese, or might use the handy Google Translate app on her phone to translate enough of the book to get an idea of what’s going on. Alas: you’re stuck with me.
I did GTranslate a few pages, and it seems to be a sort of travelogue. Desert highways in the western US; something about a drop at the tip of a needle glinting rainbows in the desert light; someone named Morgan at the wheel. It’s probably a good read. Alas: I’m just going to stick it on the shelf.
In work on this, I almost bought two more Fujiwara books… smh. I stopped myself. I have American Roulette and I doubt I “need” another Fujiwara book, and I certainly don’t need to drop another $100 on photobooks when I have about 80′ of photobooks not-yet-reviewed just staring at me accusingly… Kashmir is a reminder that there are good, inexpensive sources of photographic works from my photo heroes in things like travel books and whatnot from their commercial practice. It doesn’t have to be all art books. (That said, my collection is 98% art-type books, and it’s likely to stay that way since I’m now able to largely deny my old knee-jerk photobook purchase impulses. Anyway.)
And if Kashmir is a $7 winner, then Rocky Cruise is a $n loser. Oh well. Live and (hopefully) learn.