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Tales From the Coral Court: Photos & Stories from a Lost Route 66 Landmark

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History and first-person accounts of this famous 'no tell' motel. Includes more than 100 color and b/w photos by Route 66 photographer Shellee Graham. History and first-person accounts of this famous 'no tell' motel. Includes more than 100 color and b/w photos by Route 66 photographer Shellee Graham.


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History and first-person accounts of this famous 'no tell' motel. Includes more than 100 color and b/w photos by Route 66 photographer Shellee Graham. History and first-person accounts of this famous 'no tell' motel. Includes more than 100 color and b/w photos by Route 66 photographer Shellee Graham.

17 review for Tales From the Coral Court: Photos & Stories from a Lost Route 66 Landmark

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Graham throws a ton of stuff at the wall here, and it pretty much feels like it, despite the (minimal) structure she imposes on the material. The book essentially contains a life and death narrative, but of a building--nay, a tradition--rather a person. Tales From the Coral Court is very compelling in two ways: 1) its fragments of stories, which let the reader complete them, much as the reader is compelled to create stories from nothing just from the details, minor and major, that we're given ab Graham throws a ton of stuff at the wall here, and it pretty much feels like it, despite the (minimal) structure she imposes on the material. The book essentially contains a life and death narrative, but of a building--nay, a tradition--rather a person. Tales From the Coral Court is very compelling in two ways: 1) its fragments of stories, which let the reader complete them, much as the reader is compelled to create stories from nothing just from the details, minor and major, that we're given about the Coral Court, and 2) its treatment of the buildings from an archeological and preservationist standpoint. The book leans rather too heavily on the contributions of a certain core group of people, especially Viets, who dominates at times to a degree that you get the sense that she and Graham just wanted to work on a project together and used this shared interest as an excuse. Which is OK--at least it's a passion project--but if that were the case, you wish they'd gone ahead and explicitly made the text more personal by telling it through their own voices alone. The effect of the at time insular group of contributors is to make it feel (wrongly, I'm sure) as though only a few people actually passionately loved the Coral Court, which unfortunately undermines the biggest point the book is trying to make it, namely, that it was a popularly acknowledged institution. With the extra anecdotal material that she collected, Graham made a ton of odd choices. The shallowness of detail, and extreme brevity, of many of the stories makes them feel as though they were curated from a guestbook set up for the solicitation of memories; the back matter, though, indicates that they came almost entirely from interviews, which is maddening, because whole interviews, with follow-ups and all, would be an absolutely perfect way to present this material, and would give much needed structure and form to the baggy midsection of the book. Instead, she splits up quotes from the same person (as if to stretch material, which doesn't even need stretching), sometimes not even bothering to intersperse them, so that multiple quotes from the same person telling the same story bafflingly appear right in a row, but not as a single quote; and other times, quotes are repeated verbatim in another section, as if the new context makes it acceptable to fully repurpose material. There's a sense of trying to fill pages, too, when the choice is made to use largely-blocked pull quotes of text from the very same page--grabby works in a magazine context, but makes little sense in the middle of a book. There's another bit of magazine-inspired filler in the form of four pages given over to a quiz and then its answers, which is sort of the ultimate failure to trust your readers (or your own ability to present material memorably.) Still, despite all this needless fracturing and fragmentation, the personality of the Coral Court can't help but shine through via the personalities of the interviewees. It's a deeply saddening story, and an all-too-familiar one, of America's ongoing obsession with corporatizing, sanitizing, suburbanizing, and anesthetizing anything about itself that might in any way be considered unique, interesting, or heaven forbid, even a little unseemly. Perhaps the most unfortunate part of Graham's approach is her effort to build the Coral Court's reputation beyond just that of a--the--legendary no-tell motel. Obviously, it meant more than that to a great number of people, but what better way would there have been to spite an indifferent and puritanical America more than embracing fully its trashy, sleazy, and sordid reputation, fully deserved or not?

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jenifer Garcia

    So this is a really short book...with lots of photos. But what the heck, I read it! Coral Court. Loved it. :(

  3. 4 out of 5

    Marsha Harwood

  4. 5 out of 5

    Trudi

  5. 4 out of 5

    Atticus

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  8. 5 out of 5

    Craig

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jen B

  10. 4 out of 5

    Walt

  11. 5 out of 5

    Meleya

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlin Hettinger

  13. 4 out of 5

    Funandfailure

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cathy Gruver

  15. 5 out of 5

    Henry Cowart

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alice Habdas

  17. 5 out of 5

    James

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