Buzzing at the Sill, the new book out by Peter Van Agtmael, is not to be missed.

It’s a grim optic journey through America’s inner soul. This is not a comfort photo book. Through his use of the visual complexities of life, Peter has, in essence, exposed America’s inner raw nerves — nerves that are frayed at the edges.

As a viewer I feel the scrapping of a razor blade on my conscience, a true uneasiness starts to overcome my senses with his images. All through his metamorphic symbolism, of visual sequencing and story telling, he takes you on a acute traumatic journey into American society, with a relentless attack on your senses.

I’m not writing any of this lightly, for I’ve spent years traveling across America, attempting to capture with a honest photographic anthropological style. Always looking for symbolism that can convey a deeper message, a message of the mood of the nation, during that time period. Constantly looking for these moments with photographs that could stand the test of time. Looking for timeless photography for generations to look back and feel, through these images, a time and a place. Attempting to achieve this without the use of visual gimmickry. This is why I’m so taken back by Peter’s work: he has succeeded where I have tried.

He has succeeded through his earlier books, 2nd Tour I Hope I Don’t Die and Disco Night Sept. 11. And he has succeeded now with Buzzing at the Sill, which could form the latest opus in his American Trilogy.

Buzzing at the Sill is a dirty, dark and real study of America, offering up slivers of time that expose the diversity of the current American condition. Strange life layers, with their complexities of meaning. It’s all here to see. Providing a clearer view of an American Identity.

Buzzing at the Sill is a true timeless masterpiece.

Christopher Morris is an award-winning TIME contract photographer since 1990 and is a founding member of the VII photo agency. He is the author of My America and Americans.

Natalie Matutschovsky, who edited this photo essay, is a senior photo editor at TIME.

Peter van Agtmael is a photojournalist represented by Magnum Photos. His latest book, Buzzing at the Sill, is available now on Amazon. (Read TIME’s affiliate link policy.)


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