BOOKS: Speaking Volumes

A selection of holiday gift books that celebrate beauties, beasts, bric-a-brac, bygone eras and modern buckaroos

Norman Parkinson: Photographs 1935-1990 (Rizzoli; $65). "I do not promote the idea that photography is an art form," said the late British fashion photographer, who attributed his success to "hobgoblins that live inside the camera." An impish lightness of being animates these superb images, all of them marked by a sure sense of the elegant line, be it the pose of a long- legged beauty or the curvaceous fuselage of a 1930s airliner.

Stations: An Imaginary Journey by Michael Flanagan (Pantheon; $21). The artist-author carries us back to Old Virginny with a dual-media performance: 38 paintings of bygone railroads and Shenandoah...

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