Evolving from a series of road trips along the Mississippi River, Alec Soth’s Sleeping by the Mississippi captures America’s iconic yet oft-neglected ‘third coast’. Soth’s richly descriptive, large-format color photographs present an eclectic mix of individuals, landscapes, and interiors. Sensuous in detail and raw in subject, Sleeping by the Mississippi elicits a consistent mood of loneliness, longing, and reverie. ‘In the book’s 46 ruthlessly edited pictures’, writes Anne Wilkes Tucker, ‘Soth alludes to illness, procreation, race, crime, learning, art, music, death, religion, redemption, politics, and cheap sex.’
Like Robert Frank’s classic The Americans, Sleeping by the Mississippi merges a documentary style with poetic sensibility. The Mississippi is less the subject of the book than its organizing structure. Not bound by a rigid concept or ideology, the series is created out of a quintessentially American spirit of wanderlust.This book is one of the defining publications in the photo-book era.