Wisconsin Death Trip

by Michael Lesy | Arts & Photography |
ISBN: 0826321933 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 10/17/2002
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12 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Thursday, October 17, 2002
This is one of the oddest books I've ever encountered. It's also grim, poignant, disturbing, and funny - that's a hard combination to beat. Simply put, it's a selection of small news items culled from the newspaper of a small Wisconsin town in the last 15 years of the 19th century, along with some photographs made from a long-forgotten pile of glass plates of the same vintage. Doesn't sound exactly riveting, does it? But this little community seems to have suffered a vast assortment of tragedies, from small personal ones to full-scale disasters, and the selection and sequencing of these tidbits throughout the book becomes very like an epic poem - or dirge... Epidemics of diptheria, plagues of arsonists, an inordinate number of people going insane - punctuated by the occasional droll item, such as the fellow who got his false teeth stuck in his throat "while masticating a piece of tough beef steak... The doctor was unable to extract them, and so poked them down." Ouch. Then there's the woman who, long given to stomach troubles, "expelled a big frog from her stomach... All the physicians in the city are deeply interested in the case." A 15-year-old was lost in the woods for two days and nights "and temporarily deranged by the experience"; a 16-year-old was "made idiotic by the use of tobacco" (!). Within the next few weeks there were barn-burnings, suicides, and an accusation of witchcraft - and this doesn't begin to cover all the bases.

There's some discussion as to whether these events were unusually frequent for the time, and what it might have meant, but mostly the book just itemizes events and lets the impact build.

Not your basic feel-good book - but if you'd like some real-life American Gothic, try this.

Released on Thursday, November 07, 2002 at US Mail in Fellow BXer, Controlled Release USA.

I'm sending this to BCer cadumcadum. (Be sure to check out the near-poetry of the little keyword summaries at the beginning of each chapter...)

Journal Entry 3 by cadumcadum from Auxvasse, Missouri USA on Friday, November 15, 2002
What a fascinating book !
The photographs are just excellent. I will start on it ASAP. Of course my husband also wants to read it...
There are quite a few bookcrossers interested so I will get moving...
Thank you so much GoryDetails for sending this book. I will enjoy.

Journal Entry 4 by cadumcadum from Auxvasse, Missouri USA on Friday, February 7, 2003
Excellent photos. Gothic with a twist. Interesting.
Available now.

Journal Entry 5 by cadumcadum at -- By Hand Or Post, Ray/Ring, RABCK, Meetup in Miami, Florida USA on Sunday, February 9, 2003
Released on Sunday, February 09, 2003 at Fellow bookcrosser in Miami, Florida USA.

On the way to gnissorckoob.

Journal Entry 6 by gnissorckoob from Miami, Florida USA on Thursday, February 20, 2003
Got WDT in the mail today. I've been thumbing through it, and all I can say is that it is beyond my wildest dreams. I love it already. I see why CadumCadum kept it so long. I see why GoryDetails described it as "grim, poignant, disturbing, and funny." As one who prefers real life to fiction, I gotta say this is my kind of book.

"William McCarty, the wild man of Spaulding's Lake, Rock County, has been captured again. . . . He was found hidden in a haystack."

Now to get reading, as two more Bxers are waiting.

Journal Entry 7 by gnissorckoob at -- By Hand Or Post, Ray/Ring, RABCK in Evanston, Illinois USA on Saturday, March 1, 2003
Release planned for Monday, March 03, 2003 at Fellow BookCrosser in Evanston, Illinois USA.

Off to Bxer Rampallion . . . . There’s a lot I could say about this unique glimpse into history. It was not the photos but the 100s of newspaper excerpts that held me fascinated. Mostly about deaths and other tragedies in grim, Calvinistic rural America at the end of the 19th century. Apparently, they could not afford to even consider a social safety net.

Don’t skip the discourse at the end of the book on rural and urban paranoia and degeneracy. It seems that social “scientists” at the time blamed such evils as the steam engine, impressionist art, and “the mental activity of women.”

Journal Entry 8 by rampallion from Evanston, Illinois USA on Sunday, March 9, 2003
Looks fascinating. I have been eagerly awaiting this book since last fall!

Journal Entry 9 by rampallion from Evanston, Illinois USA on Tuesday, March 18, 2003
Disturbing and fascinating. There are some eerie parallels with recent events, such as the woman who drowned all her children because she believed the Devil was after them. It's shocking to read about diptheria and other contagious diseases wiping out entire families. Not an easy book, but a worthwhile one. Thanks, GoryDetails and Cadumcadum and gnissorckooB, for passing it on.

Journal Entry 10 by rampallion from Evanston, Illinois USA on Saturday, March 22, 2003
Gruesome but fascinating. Shows that insanity and crime are problems in the country as well as the city. "Gov. Schofield will take steps to provide, if necessary, for the care of Mary Sweeny who has caused so much trouble . . . by smashing plate glass windows. This woman. . . . once taught school in Marquette, Michigan, and Stevens Point in this state. . . . Mary says she doesn't know why she breaks windows and only does it when the craze seizes her. She uses cocaine liberally on such occasions, saying it quiets her nerves. (April 1897)'

Journal Entry 11 by rampallion from Evanston, Illinois USA on Saturday, March 22, 2003
I forgot to mention that this book is making a brief stop with Mozzfan and will then go on to oldreader.

Journal Entry 12 by mozzfan from Chicago, Illinois USA on Thursday, March 27, 2003
Being a Chicagoan, I have always thought of Wisconsin as a place that produces beer, cheese, and serial killers. It scares me. So this book is going to be great fun!

Journal Entry 13 by rampallion from Evanston, Illinois USA on Friday, April 25, 2003
Mozzfan was kind enough to take this to the post office for me. Oldreader, I hope you enjoy it!

Journal Entry 14 by oldreader from Colorado Springs, Colorado USA on Thursday, May 1, 2003
can't wait to read.this will be like being home and going through mom and grams old newspapers,thanks

Journal Entry 15 by oldreader from Colorado Springs, Colorado USA on Wednesday, June 18, 2003
This was a very interesting specim,en....mailing to oh-jeez -tower.did not recognize any names but definitely places.Since I grew up in Wisconsin many were familiar to me.hard lives back then.makes me glad for all the modern med advances.

Journal Entry 16 by oh-jeez-tower from Iowa City, Iowa USA on Monday, June 23, 2003
How good it is to get a book in the mail! And this one looks like a mighty fine little read! However, right now I'm on a reading marathon so I can finish a bunch of books that I'm going to release in Brazil. I'm leaving for this vacation in a week, I'll be gone for a month, and when I get back I'll check it out as soon as possible, and then send it on its way to an interested Italian BookCrosser: Lilybert.

Also, this book was registered before I was even a member; that's pretty cool!

Journal Entry 17 by oh-jeez-tower from Iowa City, Iowa USA on Friday, August 8, 2003
Stunning! An unusual and intriguing look at misfortune, mayhem, and the macabre. It is no surprise that Michael Lesy organized this book for his Ph.D. thesis. It was deinitely desgined only after careful consisderation of content, and precise thought of placement.

The photographs were at times captivating, and at times a bit absurd. The stories were brief looks into the lives of Wisconsins, most of them going through economic hardship, which led to a world of afflictions. Michael Lesy's discription of Wisconsin was chilling and powerful. Wisconsin Death Trip will leave a long impression on me.

This book's next reader lives in Italy.

Journal Entry 18 by oh-jeez-tower from Iowa City, Iowa USA on Friday, August 8, 2003
I have just returned from mailing the book.

Journal Entry 19 by Lilybert from Pavia, Lombardia Italy on Thursday, August 14, 2003
Received today the book from oh-jeez-tower. And so WDT is now in Italy! :-) I loved the documentary (same title) so I'm looking forward to read (and look at) this.

Then it's going to have a bit of a trip - ha ha - through Italy, USA again and UK.

Here's the ring:


Journal Entry 20 by Lilybert from Pavia, Lombardia Italy on Tuesday, August 26, 2003
A precious and disturbing witnessing. Very interesting from a social point of view, though a bit tiring for its episodic structure. The eerie illustrations reminded me of the "book of the dead" seen in "The Others"... All in all I preferred the documentary, which gave a sense of narrative cohesion to the stuff.

Journal Entry 21 by leggiona on Monday, September 15, 2003
Here it is!
Nice match with gloomy Harry Potter #5 I must say... that's the book I'm reading at the moment of the arrival.

Journal Entry 22 by leggiona on Monday, October 20, 2003
I am one of those city people who have always thought life in the country was swell.
I've always wondered, looking at old photographs, what kind of people they were, what their life was like... now I have a closer idea!
Very interesting, with an enlightening final essay.
Off it goes to muvrino now!

Journal Entry 23 by muvrino from Tribano, Veneto Italy on Saturday, November 1, 2003
Arrivato! Molto curioso... un po' inquietante, anche x' ho appena visto il film "The Ring" e non so x' ma ci ritrovo la stessa atmosfera....

Arrived! It's so odd at first sight... it reminds me the atmosphere of the film "The Ring" that I've seen recently.

Journal Entry 24 by beckys on Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Just found in my mailbox. Thank you!
Please, be very VERY patient: my house is full of bookrings and so...it will take a lot to read all of them.

Journal Entry 25 by lavale from Milano, Lombardia Italy on Friday, September 3, 2004
Beckys mi ha portato oggi questo libro...ci metteó unpo'a leggerlo.
Today Beckys gave me this book...I will take sometime to read it!

Journal Entry 26 by lavale from Milano, Lombardia Italy on Thursday, July 5, 2007
l'ho spedito a YowlYY una vita fa, ma non l'ha mai ricevuto.
Mi sa che è andato perso :(

Journal Entry 27 by gnissorckoob from Miami, Florida USA on Friday, August 28, 2009
I was just thinking of this memorable book. I'm sorry to see it's not bookcrossing . . . Where is it?

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