Some readers are casual, like the man in front of a flaming furnace, clutching a newspaper in one hand and a cigarette in the other; others appear entranced, seemingly unaware of a pair of giant skeleton legs or an elephant leaning against them. All are temporarily transported to a different place.
McCurry’s photos are made up of those moments, glimpses of people absorbed in the written word, many unaware they were being photographed. The Swiss poet, novelist and painter Hermann Hesse gave an insightful description of what can be an all-consuming experience in his 1920 essay On Reading Books. “At the hour when our imagination and our ability to associate are at their height, we really no longer read what is printed on the paper but swim in a stream of impulses and inspirations that reach us from what we are reading.“