Perhaps the sub-head to this book should have said Towns, villages and hamlets of the North American Great Plains because the majority of the forty-one photos were taken in Canada, where photographer Singer was born. There are, though, fifteen taken in the US in North and South Dakota, Montana, Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa and Kansas. Of those in Canada most are from Saskatchewan.
Grant Arnold's back of the book essay reveals how Singer took these perspective-less photos. Having found an interesting Main Street he took an exposure every three to five feet in parallel to a few buildings on one side of the street and then uses Photoshop to seamlessly join them into one long strip. The photos were made into display prints up to ten feet long and Singer was at first doubtful about seeing them in book form but I think they work because of its extreme landscape shape (fifteen inches).
Singer captures some fascinating structures which are made more interesting because of the straight-on presentation and also helped because there are eleven fold-out pages forty-four inches wide. Most of the buildings seem to be wood frame with the occasional brick building from the thirties, either a bank or maybe a small department store. The flatness of the landscape is emphasized by the sky filling in the gaps between all the structures. The ten last photos were taken in winter with the Main Streets floating on an almost white sky and highway below. Oddly there isn't a satellite dish to be seen anywhere throughout the book, maybe Singer deliberately chose premises without them .
The lack of perspective and the use of software to create these photos suggest they are more intriguing as a technical exercise rather than art photos of the Plains in the tradition of Wright Morris or David Plowden. They certainly offer a unique and different look to this huge part of America and Canada.
The book comes in an attractive sturdy, open either end slipcase, if you are buying it pre-used check with the seller that it's included.
Incidentally I spent an enjoyable few hours finding these same buildings on Google's Street View and in many cases nothing seems to have changed since Singer photographed them in the early years of this century. Street View allowed me to see the other side of the street and pick up a few quirky visual treats like the large colorful sign for the Palace movie theater in Spur, Texas which is only a thin profile in the book's photo and Springwater, Saskatchewan is near invisible with, according to the net, only thirteen buildings and a population of fifteen.