Americana; The American South: Four Seasons of the Land, by William A. Bake and James J. Kilpatrick. Birmingham, Ala.: Oxmoor House Inc. $29.95.
William Bake, a photographer, has put together a splendid album of Southern landscapes -- some 200 in all -- and James Kilpatrick, the political columnist, has added a touch of whimsy to his usually pungent prose to fitly frame around this mural of a Southland that extends from Maryland to Texas.
The combination makes for a picture book native Southerners, especially those exiled to places like Boston, will keep handy. Outlanders can simply lose themselves in photographs that speak volumes about the Southerner's emotional link to the land, which is as palpable as a hug by a loved one.
When Kilpatrick turns nostalgic, if not lyric, the mood is matched by Bake's pictures -- frozen memories of cherished childhoods. When the prose turns blunt about Southern shortcomings, there they are, revealed in unforgiving color plates.
One quibble: The title exaggerates the book's scope. Out of 188 photographs that are identified as to place, 109 are from the six coastal and mountain states of what might be called the Atlantic South. At the other geographic extreme, Texas rates 21 photos. The mid-South states are inadequately represented in a smattering of excellent, but not well-selected, scenes. But North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee are sublimely photogenic in every season -- and this album presents unforgettable proof of that.