September 26, 1988 12:00 PM

Photographs by Stephenie Hollyman

Text by Victoria Irwin

“The homeless are not necessarily heroes and not always victims,” writes Irwin, New York bureau chief of the Christian Science Monitor. “But for them the bottom has dropped out.” Irwin’s brief text and the 176 black-and-white pictures by Hollyman, a New York-based freelancer, certainly support that suggestion of despair. Hollyman and Irwin inevitably display a slight big-city bias. The philosophical niceties of dealing with panhandlers, for instance, are much more of a concern for those who spend their time in Manhattan than in Arizona. Hollyman’s photographs, however, include people in Apache Junction State Park in Phoenix and Big Stone Gap, Va., as well as in New York and Los Angeles. The faces of homeless children, all the more troubling because so many of them bear resilient smiles that are so likely to be shattered, seem the same everywhere. Irwin and Hollyman do not suggest that melting down a Stealth bomber or cutting out foreign aid to Togo will solve the homeless problem, or that any other easy solutions are at hand. Their service in fact lies in how clearly they outline the situation. As Irwin notes, estimates of the number of homeless Americans range from 350,000 to 2 million, which suggests considerable uncertainty as to the size of the problem, let alone how to ameliorate it. (Philosophical Library, $40)

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