June 20, 1988 12:00 PM

Photographs by Mollie McKool; text by Bill Porterfield

Porterfield, a former Dallas Times-Herald columnist, is loquacious, a terrific digresser and able to blend rampant folksiness with quotes from King Lear. Typical of his text segments in this book is the passage about a Miller Grove, Texas, farmer-housepainter, Don Johnson: “Which brings us to Snip, a paint plowhorse that has tramped and pulled ahead of Don Johnson for so long people think of them as inseparable. To ponder the age of Snip and the time of his service to his master is to wonder when the first perch in Turkey Creek ate the first minnow.” Nice, picturesque, eloquent. But the book centers on its portraits by McKool, a Texas photographer who shows girls and women with their fathers and grandfathers—hugging them, sitting with them, riding on their shoulders. The text often just gets in the way of these pictures, many of which invite lingering study. More puzzling is the fact that the pictures bear no identification. Is there a picture of Don Johnson somewhere, for instance? Who is the man gently kissing the girl who appears to have Down syndrome? Is that Roger Staubach in the cowboy shirt next to the little blond girl? None of these photographs A calls for much elaboration, but not to have any is confusing. (The publisher’s explanation is that captioning the pictures would detract from their universality.) McKool’s photographs remain extraordinary. But the odd design only detracts from what could have been an extraordinary book too. (Taylor, paper, $14.95)

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