Timothy Egan

When we sat down to discuss his new Edward S. Curtis biography, Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher (Houghton Mifflin, $28), Timothy Egan gave me a good rule to help distinguish Edward's photographs from those of his brother Asahel, since they're so often confused. If the subject is Indians, it's Edward; if it's the growth and development of early Seattle, Asahel. (Both took many mountain photos, so it's best not to guess about those.) The two brothers originally worked together, but they had a bitter falling-out that Egan recounts in his book. Asahel, sent to the Klondike to take photos of the gold rush, accused Edward of claiming those images as his own. They never spoke again. Asahel remained in Seattle, running his own studio until his 1941 death. Edward became a martyr to his magnum opus, the 20-volume The North American Indian, which took him far from Seattle, ruined his marriage, and left him in California poverty for the final decades of his long life (1868-1952). Egan gives us a new appreciation for that life and The North American Indian, an important work of anthropology beyond its haunting photos. (Also: Eagle Harbor Books, 7:30 p.m. Thurs., Nov. 1) BRIAN MILLER

Tue., Oct. 30, 7:30 p.m.; Thu., Nov. 1, 7:30 p.m., 2012

 
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