|Open the cover to reveal two books tucked into pockets.|
|The silly caption idea with a thin line of the photo's contours rather than a colored thumbnail.|
There are only fifty-two photos in this two-books-in-one publication, some are really fascinating and pull you into the frame but with so few photos the also rans seem to overwhelm the excellent ones. Both books look at contemporary housing developments in the south eastern Las Vegas area. Because the landscape, in parts, is hilly developers had to flatten out the land by creating a series of turning terraces with the obligatory curving roads linking them together. A few of these terrace photos make the land look quite extraordinary, the precision of the lots contrasting with the natural look of the non-vegetation hills.
With only two types of photos: terracing and homes, I thought the bird's eye view of housing provided the most interesting images. Because the heat really doesn't encourage outdoor living the properties more or less fill the whole lot with a minimum of space for a garden. McMansions with multiple roof-lines sit right next door to each other. A photo of Roma Hills gated community (which I saw recently used on a real estate website selling a still empty lot) shows the development neatly cut into the hillside. The houses all have trees surrounding them, none of which existed before the building. No solar panels or satellite dishes either, the community housing associations probably bans them. The building style here is faux northern Mediterranean and the road names like Valenzano Way, Tozzetti Lane or Latina Court reflecting the European aspiration in the Black Mountain developments.
The twenty-six photos of the Lake Las Vegas (it's actually a reservoir) area continues the Mediterranean feel with Strada di Villaggio, Via Tiberius Way, Mezza Luna Court, Camino Barcelona Place street names and perhaps even more flamboyant properties (palace might be a more accurate word for one or two of these) inside the many private communities. The speculative nature of these developments is indicated by the many unbuilt lots clearly seen in the photos.
I've given the publication three stars because of the uneven flow of the photos, with only fifty-two there are thirty that basically show terracing and the empty landscape, some of these, as I've said, are remarkable but surely no more than ten or so would have covered this leaving the rest to reveal the visually much more interesting ongoing property developments. Three stars also (or should that be two?) for the hopelessly unprofessional way the captions in the back pages have been presented to the reader. Instead of an obvious color thumbnail of each spread, so it can be found easily, there is an outline box containing a thin drawn line of the significant contour shape from each photo -- this is pure designer whimsey and next to useless in finding a caption efficiently, also the twenty-six captions are needlessly spread over six pages in both books, one spread in each would have been enough.
*You can spend an interesting bit of time looking at the houses in the Ascaya and Lake Las Vegas areas with Street View and though the Google camera-car wasn't allowed into the gated communities switch to Bing maps for bird's eye views of these and remaining unbuilt terraces.
* As of today's date you can get the book from Amazon for less than $15, publisher's price is $60.