PRINT March 2001


SOMETIMES THE RICHEST NARRATIVES have the humblest origins. Eudora Welty's worldly-wise fictions, for instance, were drawn almost entirely from her hometown, Jackson, Mississippi. Likewise, Chris Verene is elaborating an intricate narrative in his ongoing series of photographs about his birthplace, Galesburg, Illinois, where his family has lived for three generations. A railroad town of some 33,000 people, Galesburg has few sights to offer the occasional visitor besides the childhood home of Carl Sandburg and a charming if faded Main Street. If you have a job in Galesburg, chances are you work in a factory or on a farm. The town has fallen on hard times, and the agrarian idyll of Sandburg's boyhood has all but disappeared, having given way to such contemporary realities as chronic unemployment and alcoholism; the closing of a large mental institution and forced discharge of its inpatients,

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