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Voices in the Mirror: An Autobiography.

Throughout his life, Gordon Parks has reinvented himself and then examined his creation. Voices in the Mirror, his most recent memoir, is told with a calm, moving authority that nearly masks its stell-willed core. Among other events, the book follows Parks from teen-age homelessness in Minnesota, to a job as a brothel piano player and later his joining the legions of black men hunting for a job in Depression-era Harlem--a task Parks says "was akin to panning for gold in an onion patch."

But this is not simply a story of struggle. Triumph is well-documented as Parks describes his rise to the position of the first African-American photographer at Life and Vogue magazines; the director of films, The-Learning Tree and Shaft; the composer of the ballet Martin; and the author of books spanning fiction, nonfiction and poetry.

During the first 18 months of Parks' career at Life, he shot a spectrum of subjects: poverty, fashion, sports and politics. Poverty and crime stories touched him the most he says; they showed the superiority of how a camera could expose the dilemmas they posed. "The question frequently asked of me is why I have undertaken so many professions--photography, painting, writing, musical composition and film," Parks writes. "At first I wasn't sure that I had the talent, but I did know I had a fear of failure, and that fear compelled me to fight off anything that might abet it. I suffered evils, but without allowing them to rob me of the freedom to expand."

Freedom, as Parks demonstrates repeatedly, is a tool which has boundless potential.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Elie, Lolis Eric
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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