Arts & Humanities Reviews, November 15, 2011

In this Article
Larsson’s Life and Work

Arts

Bailey, Anthony. Velázquez and the Surrender of Breda: The Making of a Masterpiece. Holt. Nov. 2011. c.288p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780805088359. $32. FINE ARTS
Former New Yorker writer Bailey’s biography of Spanish baroque painter Diego Velázquez is not a traditional art history book with extensive footnotes and references. Though he refers to the artist’s paintings and the scholarship of other art historians, his more descriptive, informal, and narrative tone appeals to the general reader rather than the specialist. Though Bailey admits that much is not known about Velázquez’s personality and that gaps exist in his biography, he situates the artist in the social milieu of his time. Readers follow his beginnings in Seville to his service to King Philip IV in Madrid, as well as his sojourns to Italy in between. Bailey also includes descriptive chapters in lively prose on the most important paintings of the artist’s career, including the work of the title, Juan de Pareja, and Las Meninas. VERDICT Recommended for the general reader who wants a biography of this artist. (Color plates not seen.)‚ Sandra Rothenberg, Framingham State Univ. Lib., MA

Belting, Hans. An Anthropology of Images: Picture, Medium, Body. Princeton Univ. 2011. 208p. tr. from German by Thomas Dunlap. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780691145006. $39.95. FINE ARTS
Both a translation and an update of a 2001 German-language original, this is an academic book for advanced collections. Although classed as social and cultural anthropology, it could easily find a place in art history or philosophy collections. Belting (Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image Before the Era of Art), a distinguished and prolific German art historian, makes a complex and nuanced argument to differentiate between pictures, as manifested in their physical form, and images, which reside in the human mind. His case studies on portraiture and on the relationship between images and death are closely argued and contain convincing specific examples. However, the general theoretical parts are hard going; the author assumes familiarity with a broad range of European intellectual thought that a general audience and undergraduates are likely to lack. In A New Introduction for the English Reader, Belting remarks of the translation, the results are far from what I would like them to be; a chapter of the original was omitted from this English edition because it seemed to resist any meaningful translation. VERDICT Complex, provocative ideas for a specialized audience.‚ Jack Perry Brown, Art Inst. of Chicago Libs.

Bresenhan, Karoline Patterson & Nancy O’Bryant Puentes. Lone Stars III: A Legacy of Texas Quilts, 1986‚ 2011. Univ. of Texas. 2011. 400p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780292726994. $50. DEC ARTS
This final book of a three-part series focusing on 175 years of Texas quilts dazzles. It explores recent additions to the Texas Quilt Archive, quilts for causes, quilt organizations, the state quilt documentation project, art quilts, the best quilts of the 20th century, Texas as a quilt nexus, quilt measuring, quilt museums and quilt collections, and the virtual quilt world. The heart of the book is a stunning array of beautifully photographed quilts in full and in detail. Each quilt is identified by the individual or group maker name and location, dimensions, style of quilt, source of design, materials used, primary techniques, and collection location. Accompanying each entry is a brief annotation or commentary on the item. The quilts shown encompass a wide array of styles from traditional and naturalistic to abstract and kaleidoscopic, from the whimsical and commemorative to the sentimental and painterly. VERDICT This colorful, vibrant, and dramatic look at the world of Texas quilts should find a home in every library collection, as well as with individual enthusiasts of this traditional, folk-art genre. Highly recommended.‚ Stephen Allan Patrick, East Tennessee State Univ. Lib., Johnson City

Diamonstein-Spielvogel, Barbaralee. The Landmarks of New York: An Illustrated Record of the City’s Historic Buildings. 5th ed. State Univ. of NY. 2011. 750p. photogs. maps. index. ISBN 9781438437699. $75. ARCHITECTURE
First published 40 years ago, this classic guide to New York City architecture has been updated from the 2005 edition with a record of all subsequent renovations and alterations to buildings, districts, and ornaments designated by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, which was led by Diamonstein-Spielvogel (chair, the Historic Landmarks Preservation Ctr.) for over a decade. This book includes almost 200 newly designated buildings and nearly 40 new district maps. New York City has designated and protected more historic buildings and districts than any other city because of the Landmarks Commission, which was founded in 1965, following the leadership of Jacqueline Kennedy and inspired by 100 other historical commissions across America. To read this book from cover to cover is to reread the past 400 years of New York history. The author has written an excellent introduction, fronted by an apt quote from William Shakespeare: Let us satisfy our eyes/ With the memorials and the things of fame/ That do renown this city. VERDICT Highly recommended. ‚ Peter S. Kaufman, formerly with Boston Architectural Coll.

Parsons, Jack. Dark Beauty: Photographs of New Mexico. Hudson Hills, dist. by National Bk. Network. Nov. 2011. 148p. photogs. ISBN 9781555953706. $60. PHOTOG
This impressive book features a selection of more than 100 stunning photographs of New Mexico by noted photographer Parsons from the past 35 years. Although best known for his black-and-white photography, Parsons has been making color images of the Land of Enchantment since he moved there in 1969. Famously picturesque, New Mexico is arguably the most scenic state in the country. Here Parsons‚ unsatisfied with popular, sun-drenched images of the state‚ has captured its dark beauty in this perfectly titled book. His stunning images range from misted mountains to colorful murals, dirt roads, and brilliant sunsets. They are dark, however, only in the sense that they reveal another dimension that is lovely and mysterious. Implicit in each of these images, marked by their depth and richness, is the photographer’s love for his home. VERDICT This book will appeal not only to those who appreciate the American Southwest, especially New Mexico, but to anyone who loves fine-art photography. ‚ Raymond Bial, First Light Photography, Urbana, IL

Richardson, Tim. Futurescapes: Designers for Tomorrow’s Outdoor Spaces. Thames & Hudson, dist. by Norton. 2011. 352p. illus. ISBN 9780500515778. $60. ARCHITECTURE
The increase in concern about the environmental impact of building has added to the importance of landscaping in planning and urban design. Richardson follows his Avant Gardeners‚ in which he profiles 50 landscape designers worldwide‚ with this survey of another 50 design firms, selected for significance, distinctiveness, and innovation. Half the firms are based in Europe, a quarter in the United States, and the remainder throughout the rest of the world. Examples of their recent work include public parks, gardens, and private estates; some sites are former military or industrial complexes. The results are diverse, but many feature strongly thematic ground plans and juxtapose plantings with hard surfaces and water elements. Leading practitioners and critics have contributed brief essays about the state of landscape design. The 472 photographs and computer graphics are of excellent quality. VERDICT A valuable design resource for landscape architects and students. Architects and city planners may also be interested as the design or redesign of neighborhoods now often includes the local landscape.‚ David R. Conn, formerly with Surrey Libs., B.C.

Valentine, James (photogs.) with Chris Bolgiano (text). Southern Appalachian Celebration: In Praise of Ancient Mountains, Old-Growth Forests, & Wilderness. Univ. of North Carolina. 2011. 152p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780807835142. $35. PHOTOG
This large-format book features a broad selection of lovely nature photographs of southern Appalachia by Valentine (Florida Magnificent Wilderness: State Lands, Parks, and Natural Areas). Over four decades, Valentine hiked hundreds of miles of mountain trails in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. In vivid color images, he captures everything from the sweep of ancient mountain ranges to delicate wildflowers, from towering trees to misting waterfalls. A dedicated conservationist, Valentine touches in his preface on his personal reasons for compiling this book and explains his life’s work. William Meadows (president, Wilderness Soc.) contributes a brief foreword about his Appalachian home and the biodiversity of the region, and the late Robert Zahner (forestry, emeritus, Clemson Univ.) provides an informative introduction about conservation. Bolgiano (Living in the Appalachian Forest) provides the rest of the book’s text; each image includes a detailed caption. VERDICT This fine book is not only a collection of stunning photographs but also a natural history of a singular region. It will appeal to those who love Appalachia and appreciate fine nature photography as well as anyone interested in conservation and the environment.‚ Raymond Bial, First Light Photography, Urbana, IL

Literature

Cushman, Ellen. The Cherokee Syllabary: Writing the People’s Perseverance. Univ. of Oklahoma. Dec. 2011. c.256p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780806142203. $34.95. LANG
In Weaving New Worlds: Southeastern Cherokee Women and Their Basketry, Sarah H. Hill beautifully recounts the history of Southeastern Cherokee women through the evolution of their basketry over centuries. Here Cushman (writing, rhetoric, & American cultures, Michigan State Univ.; The Struggle and the Tools: Oral and Literate Strategies in an Inner City Community) uses the Cherokee syllabary to the same effect, showing how its evolution, from its creation by Sequoyah in the early 1800s to the present day, mirrors changes in Cherokee history and culture. She illuminates how the syllabary supported Cherokee culture and identity as the Cherokee struggled to redefine themselves after the removal period and the allotment eras as the United States sought to acculturate native peoples by assaulting their ethnic, political, and cultural identities. Most important, she demonstrates why the preservation of the syllabary is vital as part of the effort to preserve the Cherokee language today. VERDICT Readers interested in this highly recommended monograph should also consider Signs of Cherokee Culture: Sequoyah’s Syllabary in Eastern Cherokee Life, in which Margaret Bender examines the syllabary within the context of North Carolina’s Qualla Boundary.‚ John Burch, Campbellsville Univ. Lib., KY

Donaldson, Ian. Ben Jonson: A Life. Oxford Univ. Dec. 2011. c.512p. illus. index. ISBN 9780198129769. $39.95. LIT
With the exception of Shakespeare, his older contemporary, Ben Jonson is the greatest playwright of the British Renaissance, with achievements across tragedy, satire, comedy‚ where arguably he exceeds Shakespeare‚ and court masques. He also excelled as a poet. Donaldson (honorary professorial fellow, Sch. of Culture & Communication, Univ. of Melbourne, Australia) is one of the general editors of the forthcoming Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson (Feb. 2012). He brings to this critical biography a thorough knowledge of Jonson’s works and the most up-to-date scholarly and textual research. Though starting with Jonson’s vertical burial and the fate of his bones, Donaldson’s approach is roughly chronological, dividing Jonson’s life into four- to eight-year segments, presenting a good balance between his discussion of specific works and their biographical contexts. VERDICT Aimed primarily at academics, the book’s prose style is a bit dry but accessible to the interested general reader. There have been four other biographical studies of Jonson in the last 50 years, the most recent being W. David Kay’s Ben Jonson: A Literary Life (1995), now out of print. This new study is essential for academic collections and for readers wishing to seriously extend beyond Shakespeare their knowledge of this literary era.‚ T.L. Cooksey, Armstrong Atlantic State Univ., Savannah

Hitchings, Henry. The Language Wars: A History of Proper English. Farrar. Nov. 2011. c.416p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780374183295. $28. LANG
What is important about our battles over the English language? Hitchings (theater critic, Evening Standard, London; The Secret Life of Words) guides readers with a comprehensive survey spanning 400 pages and many centuries. Wonder about the initial ammunition of these language wars, namely, early grammar books or spelling publications? Hitchings devotes an entire chapter to each topic. Curious about the hard-charging generals in the war or the fronts related to slang or profanity? More chapters await. Without voicing resolution on matters of debate, e.g., as in such guides as Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style or H.W. Fowler’s A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, Hitchings enumerates the goals and summarizes the content of these and other important publications. His discussions always humorously identify weak arguments, include anecdotes, and aim to engage general readers; that is, those already familiar with English linguistic history and pre-1776 politics. VERDICT This isn’t a language-use survey specifically written for teachers and students, as is Terry Locke’s Beyond the Grammar Wars. It will be best appreciated by language specialists, who will be sure to admire Hitchings’s depth, wide range, comic flair, and lengthy bibliography.‚ Marianne Orme, Des Plaines P.L., Wheaton, IL

Matteson, John. The Lives of Margaret Fuller: A Biography. Norton. Jan. 2012. c.384p. illus. index. ISBN 9780393068054. $32.95. LIT
Margaret Fuller, associate of Emerson, Hawthorne, and the other Concord intellectuals and most famous for her Woman in the Nineteenth Century as well as for her tragic death, was a determined and brilliant woman who struggled to find her place in the 19th-century world. In this extensive biography, Pulitzer Prize winner Matteson (English, John Jay Coll. of Criminal Justice, CUNY; Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father) not only gives the reader a clearer understanding of Fuller, but also draws a fairly complete picture of her environment and time. Among the many Fuller biographies, this work distinguishes itself by accomplishing the difficult task of making the subject come to life. Through Matteson’s easy narrative style and presentation of Fuller as a series of identities, readers can begin to understand her drive and her flaws. VERDICT The work is well written, easily accessible, and entertaining. Prior knowledge of Fuller is not necessary to enjoy it. A great read for anyone interested in extraordinary women in our literary and women’s history. [See Prepub Alert, 7/11/11.]‚ Paolina Taglienti, Everest Coll.‚ Henderson, Las Vegas

Performing Arts

Best Music Writing 2011. Da Capo. Dec. 2011. c.336p. ed. by Alex Ross. bibliog. ISBN 9780306819636. pap. $16. MUSIC
After his acclaimed The Rest Is Noise, New Yorker music critic Ross edits this year’s edition of the annual, genre-spanning series of notable music writing from both print and Internet publications. In his introduction, he writes that among his goals are to lead readers into an unfamiliar realm and to illuminate new paths on well-trod ground; with the range of topics and personalities represented in these selections and the angles they explore, he has succeeded. The book touches on pop, rock, classical, country, and jazz and includes writing about both well-known musicians and more esoteric figures and topics. The pieces range from profiles of Lady Gaga, will.i.am, and jazz pianist Fred Hersch and appreciations of Sade, the Smiths, and Beethoven to articles about underground music in Iran, the fate of the wedding singer in the digital age, and the making of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. VERDICT Aficionados of music and illuminating critical writing will find much to savor in this collection, which exemplifies Ross’s assertion that music can reach across the human universe with astonishing ease. Recommended.‚ Jim Collins, Morristown-Morris Twp. Lib., NJ

Edwards, Elisabeth. I Love Lucy: A Celebration of All Things Lucy; Inside the World of Television’s First Great Sitcom. Running Pr. 2011. 256p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780762439768. $30. TV
I Love Lucy premiered in 1951; 60 years later it is still shown daily in 30 countries around the world. Lucille Ball’s physical comedy, perfect timing, and fantastic facial expressions made her the unforgettable character Lucy. She and her real-life husband Desi Arnaz (the show’s Ricky Ricardo) were unafraid to address culturally sensitive material on the show, such as her pregnancy and Desi’s Hispanic heritage. In this book, Edwards (I Love Lucy: Celebrating 50 Years of Love and Laughter), a longtime associate of the Arnaz family, has created another great tribute to the iconic show and its stars. She groups episodes in sections that address themes such as friendship, finances, and fashion, and she includes many still photos from each episode. Other elements such as cast and character bios and recipes are also included. An added bonus is a brief historical section on culture, ideals, and the changing roles of women in 1950s America. VERDICT Casual readers will enjoy cruising through this book; Lucy fans will love it. A good purchase for most libraries.‚ Rosalind Dayen, South Regional Lib., Broward Cty., FL

Frehley, Ace with Joe Layden & John Ostrosky. No Regrets: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir. Gallery/VH1 Classic: S. & S. Nov. 2011. 320p. photogs. ISBN 9781451613940. $26. MUSIC
Bronx, NY, native Frehley wanted to play guitar for a living, and he got his wish in 1972 when, responding to a Village Voice ad, he met Peter Criss, Gene Simmons, and Paul Stanley. After a slow start, their band, Kiss, exploded and became a brand that appealed to millions of kids and adults. However, Frehley found rock ‘n’ roll stardom inseparable from sex, drugs, brushes with the law, and near-death experiences. Unhappy with the band’s direction and concerned for his well-being, he quit Kiss in the early 1980s. The following years brought him more close calls, a solo career, and a Kiss reunion (and another breakup). Now five years sober, he continues to record and perform for his loyal fans. VERDICT Frehley’s memoir is a blast‚ candid, conversational, and funny. He seems to enjoy recollecting his alcohol- and drug-fueled shenanigans and is never preachy but makes it clear he knows how lucky he is. Required reading for all past and present Kiss Army members, as well as fans of rock/pop-culture memoirs. (Photos not seen.)‚ Samantha J. Gust, Niagara Univ. Lib., NY

Iommi, Tony with T.J. Lammers. Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath. Da Capo. Nov. 2011. c.416p. index. ISBN 9780306819551. $26. MUSIC
Surprisingly, the man who invented the heavy-metal riff didn’t do it out of creative inspiration but out of prosthetic necessity. Detailing the gruesome accident that resulted in the severing of two fingers on his left hand, Iommi opens his memoir with both graphic description and honesty. It was this event that shaped his style of guitar playing and the sound that was to define Black Sabbath. While much of his memoir details the trials and tribulations of Black Sabbath, Iommi paints an intimate portrait of his own life from childhood to his most recent musical effort in Heaven & Hell. Aided by journalist Lammers, Iommi’s narrative voice is evident in each vignette. Unfortunately for Iommi, the book ends in the same way it begins: with another accident, this one involving his right hand. Still, even with two damaged hands, Iommi reminds us that he is one of the greatest guitar legends alive today. VERDICT Another rock ‘n’ roll memoir rife with addiction and celebrity. Readers who enjoyed Joel McIver’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath will be drawn to Iommi’s insider perspective.‚ Joshua Finnell, Denison Univ. Lib., Granville, OH

Kubernik, Harvey & Kenneth Kubernik. A Perfect Haze: The Illustrated History of the Monterey International Pop Festival. Santa Monica. Nov. 2011. 288p. photogs. bibliog. ISBN 9781595800602. $45. MUSIC
Although Woodstock looms larger in our national consciousness, the Monterey International Pop Festival (MIPF) of 1967 has a strong claim to the title of the first successful large-scale rock festival. With this book, endorsed by the MIPF Foundation as the first official history of the festival, brothers Harvey (Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and the Music of Laurel Canyon) and Kenneth Kubernik (former editor, Music Connection) present a clear and concise picture of a tumultuous time. Interviews with planners, managers, artists, and reporters trace a path from the idea’s genesis through three days of unforgettable performances and the shooting of an acclaimed documentary film (D.A. Pennebaker’s 1968 Monterey Pop). Scores of never-before-seen photographs and festival ephemera, along with contemporary articles and broadcast transcripts, make for a totally immersive experience. The book includes a foreword from festival producer Lou Adler and an afterword by Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas. VERDICT Well organized, beautifully laid out, and packed with insightful commentary, this work will find its way to the shelves of flower children of all ages. Strongly recommended for anyone with an interest in the music and culture of late 1960s America.‚ Neil Derksen, Gwinnett Cty. P.L., Lawrenceville, GA

Spicer, Chrystopher J. Clark Gable, in Pictures: Candid Images of the Actor’s Life. McFarland. Dec. 2011. c.240p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780786449644. $45. FILM
Clark Gable is portrayed here in dozens of photographs, many depicting the famous actor apart from the glamour associated with the silver screen. These distinctively personal images are themselves informative, and Spicer (Clark Gable: Biography, Filmography, Bibliography) provides a richly detailed narrative to accompany them. Delving into each major area of Gable’s life‚ youth, acting, military, recreation, automobiles, social life, and marriages‚ Spicer presents an impressive amount of information, including specifics about the star’s passion for fine automobiles (sumptuous Packards and Duesenbergs among them), love of the great outdoors (fishing, hunting), acting career (from a first taste of theater in Akron to starring in over 60 films), and marriages. The text is nicely paired with the photographs, which are expressive and well chosen and capture the multifaceted essence of the man behind the famous name. VERDICT This is a thoroughly researched work with great visual appeal that illuminates some of the less emphasized aspects of Gable’s life. Spicer’s empathetic and comprehensive portrait will certainly resonate with Gable fans as well as film historians and enthusiasts and will find a permanent place in both popular and special collections.‚ Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ

Poetry

Kageyama-Ramakrishnan, Claire. Bear, Diamonds and Crane. Four Way Bks. 2011. c.104p. ISBN 9781935536130. pap. $15.95. POETRY
Kageyama-Ramakrishnan’s second volume (after Shadow Mountain, winner of the Four Way Books Intro Prize in Poetry) traverses the difficult terrain of family and loss, of becoming oneself though examining memory. These are beautifully crafted poems, some free verse, some haiku, and mostly small songs‚ little paintings of family that are lovely in their imagery, sound, and sense. Yet there is more: There is truth here, in the gaps/ and lapses, but don’t ask where. From the flight of a grandmother into marriage, to a grandfather’s confinement in the internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II, to a mother’s death, these poems are fraught with transformations from Issei (first generation) to Sansei (third generation) and finally crowned with the birth of a child. Throughout, Kageyama-Ramakrishnan navigates a child’s wish to assimilate and an adult’s yearning for what was lost, finally concluding You must filter the air,/ filter the truth/ …. Maybe you’ll agree that when you filter,/ you translate. You filter and you lose. Often, something is lost from one generation, but it can be replaced with something from another. VERDICT Kageyama-Ramakrishnan’s keen ears and eyes miss nothing; for all readers of contemporary poetry.‚ Karla M. Huston, Appleton Art Ctr., WI

Miller, Wayne. The City, Our City. Milkweed. 2011. c.104p. ISBN 9781571314451. pap. $16. POETRY
The urban spaces explored in Miller’s third collection (after The Book of Props) are less evocative of Whitman’s tumultuous Mannahatta than of T.S. Eliot’s Unreal City, peopled not by rushing pedestrians and aggressive cabbies but by shadows, ghostly memories, and the poet’s own brooding consciousness. Miller’s unnamed city seems born of dreams but not aspirations; it has a past but not a recorded history. Everywhere there is the sense of time irretrievably lost (Porchlights/ coming on, the theater/ boarded and sealed shut/ with the posters of exhausted shows), perhaps for the better. Like Eliot, Miller reveals a flair for haunting imagery, noting the panoramic dark of a rail car or the neoned, crisscrossing,/ paperflecked streets, but it is the metaphysics of silent despair that he captures most effectively: The houses one by one abandoning, each as if a wave has rushed inside./ Withdrawing, it leaves a trail of possessions in the yard. VERDICT Miller’s meditative approach to his subject may seem sedate, almost ethereal, but his attempts to link the symbolic significance of cities with the deep human needs that made them inevitable are often riveting.‚ Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY

Newman, Amy. Dear Editor. Persea Bks, dist. by Norton. Jan. 2012. c.80p. ISBN 9780892553877. pap. $15. POETRY
The poems in Newman’s fourth collection (after Fall) describe the poet’s growing-up years. She remembers her grandfather and the chess games he always played and her grandmother constantly discussing the saints and their virtues. Each poem begins as a query letter to an editor, seeking publication for X-Pawn Capture, an imaginary manuscript. Ostensibly concerned with chess, and particularly its ramifications, the poems look at the game in a different light‚ one that is revealed as the collection progresses. Soon it becomes apparent that chess is a metaphor for life itself. VERDICT Lyrical studies of chess, the poems morph into a chess game themselves, moving from outside to inside, from query letter to intimations of immortality √† la Wordsworth. The energy of these pieces comes from the poet’s varying level of success in exploring the chess metaphor; a few seem dense and get lost in their own innovation, but the best are unique, stunning, and difficult‚ odes to the interior life.‚ Diane Scharper, Towson Univ., Lutherville, MD

Peck, John. Contradance. Univ. of Chicago. (Phoenix Poets). 2011. c.88p. ISBN 9780226652924. pap. $18. POETRY
Peck (The Broken Block-House Wall) is known for writing difficult poetry, and this volume is no exception. Most poems here, though they begin in a real or relatable world, such as the diner in the title poem, come off as cold and intellectual, reading like vehicles for name dropping (Dante, Milton, Baudelaire, etc.) instead of meditations on our collective humanity. Even the New York Sonnets, which sound as if they would be the most gritty and down to earth in the collection, remain distant. In Anfiteatro Flaviano, for instance, the grime on a New York building transports the speaker suddenly back to the Coliseum in ancient Rome. How? Or consider To the One Who Stole My Tools, whose title (reminiscent of Steve Scafidi’s To Whoever Set My Truck on Fire) prepares us for a humorous poem that never arrives. VERDICT Either Peck writes for a very specific academic audience, or he writes for no audience at all. What Matthew Rohrer says about W.S. Merwin can be applied here: It is remarkably, emotionally monovocal.‚ Stephen Morrow, Ohio Univ., Columbus

Wells, Jonathan. Train Dance. Four Way Bks. 2011. c.72p. ISBN 9781935536147. pap. $15.95. POETRY
A first book of poetry from an established editor and anthologist (Third Rail: The Poetry of Rock and Roll), this volume extends its metaphor, from engine to obsolete caboose, through the spaces of domestic sadness, familial loss, and sexual renewal. Infused with the surrealism of physical displacement, the poems are haunting in places but unfortunately marred by a tendency to end lines with prepositions (There won’t be time before he leaves at/ dawn to recall the grapestand under/ the stars near Kandahar‚Ķ) and by some awkward formal verse (a sonnet that rhymes before with anymore, for example) that doesn’t seem worth the effort. Most compelling are the father/son poems, which include the title piece about a game played with a child to make time go faster. This conceit provides a nice counterpoint to the opening poem’s sense of time moving too quickly: no matter how far I lean into those turns,/ I cannot catch tomorrow’s train tonight. VERDICT Despite some prosodic awkwardness, this book evokes the poignancy of the suburban male psyche that tells time by a commutation schedule but is out of synch with the present. For larger audiences.‚ Ellen Kaufman, New York

Religion

Gregory, Brad S. The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society. Belknap: Harvard Univ. Jan. 2012. c.552p. index. ISBN 9780674045637. $39.95. REL
Gregory (history, Univ. of Notre Dame; Salvation at Stake: Christian Martydom in Early Modern Europe) here offers both history and polemic. The history traces the tangled connections between a time when religious beliefs still underpinned politics and morality in the West and today’s secular world in which religion is treated as personal preference rather than a revealed, commonly held truth, leading to a world in which rampant hyperpluralism rules. The polemic laments the weakening of the glue of faith-based values that held society together for centuries and argues that the natural sciences wrongly dismiss revealed truth from today’s discourse. Gregory’s historical analysis is generally satisfying, though overly schematic at times. He casts his net over disparate areas of study and deploys evidence tellingly to make connections that narrower studies commonly miss. The argumentative portion is less convincing. For the skeptic, the reasoning used to argue revelation’s truth value could be used equally convincingly to make the case for voodoo, even conceivably the existence of unicorns. VERDICT Given the importance of the topic, it’s unfortunate that Gregory hasn’t used everyday language for many key concepts. Terms like metaphysical univocity or hyperpluralism won’t entice readers to delve further into a book whose prose is already dense.‚ David Keymer, Modesto, CA

Worthington, Frances. Abraham: One God, Three Wives, Five Religions. Baha’i. 2011. c.242p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781931847896. pap. $17. REL
Worthington (Baha’i Basics), a former freelance gardening photojournalist, here demonstrates how Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Babi, and Baha’i traditions embody Abraham’s spiritual legacy. Writing from the perspective of the newest Abrahamic religion (Baha’i), she harmonizes scriptures and traditions to show how Abraham’s teachings, banishment, and descendants from three wives shaped the contours of monotheism. Worthington writes in a refreshing, engaging manner, with an ear for the music of metaphor. She concludes that the symbolism in Abrahamic faiths and the genealogies of their founders demonstrate that religions are intimately connected to one another and human beings are spiritually and genetically related: a trace of Abraham in each and every face. Worthington’s analysis complements such titles as Bruce Feiler’s Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths. Worthington subtly corrects the erroneous classification of the Baha’i faith as Eastern or New Age. VERDICT Original, readable, and thought-provoking, this book is highly recommended to those interested in new approaches to spiritual history, Abraham, Abrahamic religion, religious symbolism, or progressive revelation.‚ William P. Collins, Library of Congress, Washington, DC

Sports & Recreation

Cannizzaro, Mark. New York Jets: The Complete Illustrated History. MVP: Quayside. 2011. 192p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780760340639. $30. SPORTS
MVP Books has been producing these illustrated histories of NFL teams for the past few years and is now about one-third of the way through the league’s 32 clubs. Most of this volume’s action photos and reproductions of football cards and other memorabilia are in color and attractively laid out. Veteran sportswriter Cannizzaro (New York Post) tells the history of the team through its coaches‚ from Sammy Baugh of the 1960 New York Titans to Rex Ryan of today’s media savvy Jets. While the Jets have won only one Super Bowl in their 51 years, they have had a colorful heritage, particularly capturing the imagination of football fans in the 1960s because of flashy quarterback Joe Namath and today owing to flamboyant head coach Ryan. The text is augmented by sidebars on notable players like Namath, Curtis Martin, and Darrelle Revis as well as on significant moments in team history like when NBC left a game to air Heidi in 1968, Super Bowl III, and the weird departure of coach Bill Parcells. An appendix lists the basic team records, and there is a foreword by Namath. VERDICT This well-executed team history will be of interest to all football fans.‚ John Maxymuk, Rutgers Univ. Lib., Camden, NJ

Peters, Eric. Road Hogs: Detroit’s Big, Beautiful Luxury Performance Cars of the 1960s and 1970s. Motorbks: Quayside. 2011. 160p. illus. index. ISBN 9780760337646. $35. SPORTS
This tribute to the wretched automotive excesses of the 1960s and 1970s takes an affectionate look at the land yachts and whale-sized station wagons then produced by Detroit automakers. Every page contains full-color photos‚ many from ads and sales brochures‚ showing Cadillacs, Oldsmobiles, and Lincolns of the era. Automotive journalist Peters (Automotive Atrocities) delivers an amusing and somewhat snarky narrative, pausing to snicker over the behemoths of the highways while sharing stories with readers. With fins galore and enough chrome to blind oncoming drivers, these massive luxury cruisers featured sumptuous interiors with Tiffany clocks and fine Corinthian leather. With gas under a dollar a gallon and no worries about global warming, who cared whether the miles-per-gallon hovered around ten? These were the vehicles of Elvis and Frank Sinatra, a dream for the average worker bee. VERDICT A must-have for fans of big Detroit iron, and a fun choice to bring to family gatherings‚ Didn’t grandpa have one of those? A guaranteed conversation starter among baby boomers, especially those who learned how to parallel park in one of these mile-long cruisers.‚ Susan Belsky, Oshkosh P.L., WI

Schulian, John. Sometimes They Even Shook Your Hand: Portraits of Champions Who Walked Among Us. Bison: Univ. of Nebraska. 2011. c.336p. ISBN 9780803237766. pap. $19.95. SPORTS
In one of the pieces in this compilation of more than 60 of Schulian’s works published from the 1970s through the early 2000s, the author says of famed sportswriter Red Smith, Red made me fall in love with writing, not box scores. Schulian obviously fell hard; in all these articles, he eschews accounts of the x’s and o’s and final scores and standings for portraits of the men (and here’s a flaw‚ no female athletes are included) behind the bats, gloves, etc. The famous are here: Joe Montana, Willie Mays, Larry Bird, Wayne Gretzky, Jimmy Connors, Bill Shoemaker, the Sugar Rays (Robinson and Leonard), Muhammad Ali. But Schulian also has an eye for the not-so-famous: Yale-bred Chicago Bears quarterback Gary Fencik, Pacific Coast League cult hero Steve Bilko, basketball coach Big House Gaines, boxing manager and trainer Paddy Flood. VERDICT Schulian’s thesis is that the people he writes about were from the last generation of athletes we could get to know, so insulated from fans are the stars of today, and he does an admirable job in sharing these men with us. Sports fans, especially of baby-boomer age, will appreciate his efforts.‚ Jim Burns, Jacksonville P.L., FL


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