The last year has given us a lot to think about. Every year does that. But the last year was different because of the pandemic and all the things that we had to deal with surrounding it, including new routines for daily life.
Amid the handwashing and mask-wearing, the last year gave us more time to think about ourselves and the world around us. In a way, it put a magnifying glass on every detail of our existence. Most of the things that happen during regular life still happened, just in a different way. I cringe at the expression, but as time went by, we started to experience a “new normal.”
Like the rest of us, Tara Wray and her family had to learn how to function amid the pandemic. They had to seek out a new normal. But, again, a lot of what makes up regular life kept going on for them, too. Wray’s new book, “Year of the Beast” (Too Tired Press, 2021), is an endearing record of that time.
When Tara reached out to tell me about her book, she put the point behind it very succinctly, saying, “It’s called Year of the Beast, and it’s a personal diary of 2020 that features dogs, twins, and domestic scenes from rural Vermont, under a looming specter of doom.” Reading that brings a smile to my face.
With a few interchangeable characters and scenesetters, “Year of the Beast” could be the stories of so many of us. Life goes on, even under the looming specter of doom. Wray’s book is filled with the little moments that make up life. Some of the photos are wistful, some are mundane and some are full of the wonder that comes with looking at our surroundings and our place within them.
I’m sure you’ll relate to a lot of the photos. Who hasn’t experienced the joy of thrusting their hand in the crisp air outside a car window? One photo that made me stop in my tracks was that of the sad, miserable, but also hilarious, scene of a pizza on a kitchen floor. It’s laying there, pathetically crumpled, with a trail of cheese and tomato sauce smeared on a cabinet as if taunting us, as if reminding us of the beautiful absurdity of it all.
Wray has created a book that is a personal record of her experiences over the past year, but, in a way, it’s about all of our experiences.
Tara Wray is a multifaceted artist; her work includes photography and filmmaking. In Sight featured her book, “Too Tired for Sunshine” in 2018. She’s also the founder of the Too Tired Project, a nonprofit arts organization advancing mental health advocacy through photography.
In Sight is The Washington Post’s photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff members and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.
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