ARMED AMERICA Portraits of Gun Owners in Their Homes By Kyle Cassidy | Krause. 208 pp. $30
Several of the staff photographers at The Washington Post are fans of a shooter (photographer, that is) named Kyle Cassidy. His photo-a-week blog, kylecassidy.com, has many comforting close-ups of sandwiches (mostly veggies on just-right toast) and of his cat, Roswell. His gallery shows and fashion photos, on the other hand, revolve around levitating bodies, bloody-lipped goths and dominatrices.
Now Cassidy has put out a coffee table book that combines in every image the ordinary and the bizarre, the comforting and the unnerving. Over the course of two years, he traveled 15,000 miles to take these pictures of shooters (gun owners, that is) in their homes. They pose with their Stoeger Condor 12-gauges, Mossberg 590s, Mini Uzi SMGs, Glock 26s and AK-47s. And also with their chef's tunics, teddy bears and silk flower arrangements. A lot seem to have cats.
Cassidy asked each subject the same question: "Why do you own a gun?" Their answers are next to their pictures, without comment. The result is highly political, even polemical. The question is, in which direction? Each picture in Armed America could be a pro-gun advertisement -- or an anti-gun poster. That's what makes the book so riveting.
-- Alan Cooperman