Title: A Summons to Memphis

Photographer: William Eggleston
Author: Peter Taylor
Publisher: Vintage International
Designer: John Gall


Image Title: Family Mementos in Memphis [from 'The Democratic Forest']
Photo Genre: Color documentry
Book Genre: Novel

The Eggleston photograph on the cover of 'A Summons to Memphis' was actually made in Memphis, though one would not necessarily know that, given what the image describes. It is not, for example, a picture of Graceland, or Sun Studios, The National Civil Rights Museum, The Pink Palace, or any other of that city's landmarks. In theory, the image could have been made almost anywhere, or at least inside any room with tasteful, antique furnishings.
In fact, it was most likely made inside Eggleston's Memphis home. It sits here on the book's cover, partially concealed by two thick white horizontal bands, which serve as background for the author's name and the book's title, and as visual counterpoint to the pair of candles. If these bands were removed, they would reveal a small portrait of Andrew Jackson and the bottom edge of a framed document containing Jackson's signature. These references to Old Hickory might make the image too specific to represent the book's content, and so they are concealed. Eggleston's photograph is now anonymous enough to serve as the cover for an unrelated work of fiction, and, at the same time telegraph a sense of familiarity; a premonition of the tale that lies between the covers, waiting to be told. KB