Arts & Humanities Reviews, January 2012

Textiles%209780500515662 Arts & Humanities Reviews, January 2012

OrangeReviewStar Arts & Humanities Reviews, January 2012Gordon, Beverly. Textiles: The Whole Story; Uses, Meanings, Significance. Thames & Hudson, dist. by Norton. 2011. 304p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780500515662. $60. DEC ARTS

This stunning book leads readers from the Stone Age to the 21st century, while weaving its story from strands of art and craft, history and anthropology, and science and culture. Through six chapters, Gordon (textiles & apparel design, Sch. of Human Ecology, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison) portrays the history of textiles in the context of personal and daily lives, as well as the global aspects of this important commodity. The book’s chapters, like Very Fabric of Existence, cover textiles’ importance to human consciousness. Others such as Living on the Earth explain the role of textiles in human survival. The Tie That Binds highlights the social meaning of textiles; Cloth and Temporal Power relates the commercial importance of textiles with regard to money, trade, status, and control; Cloth as Communication brings forth the hidden qualities of symbolism, meaning, and messages, as well as the outward display of beauty; and Textiles & the Spirit discusses the sacred and spiritual significance of fabric. The photographs relate well to the text and serve as visual cues to the role of textiles in society. VERDICT Not a coffee-table book but a title that speaks to the human experience. An outstanding achievement; highly recommended.‚ Stephen Allan Patrick, Jonesborough, TN

OrangeReviewStar Arts & Humanities Reviews, January 2012The Renaissance Portrait: From Donatello to Bellini. Metropolitan Museum of Art, dist. by Yale Univ. 2011. 432p. ed. by Keith Christiansen & Stefan Weppelmann. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300175912. $65. FINE ARTS

Accompanying a landmark exhibition of the same name at the Bode-Museum (Berlin) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this lavishly illustrated (261 reproductions, including 255 in full color) publication provides a comprehensive study of Italian Renaissance portraiture in the 15th century. Like the exhibition, it features outstanding Italian masterpieces of painting, drawing, manuscript illumination, sculpture, and medallic portraiture. From the fifth until the 15th centuries, portraiture in Europe remained relatively undeveloped; discrete portraits of individuals were rare. Changing economic, political, and social circumstances initiated the first great age of portraiture in Europe, one in which Italian artists played a crucial, formative role. Groundbreaking Italian artists such as Donatello, Lippi, Botticelli, Verrocchio, Ghirlandaio, Pisanello, Mantegna, and Bellini were instrumental in transforming the portrait genre into an art form that went beyond mere representation. In five essays, contributors discuss Renaissance portraiture in general, regional and political differences that influenced the development of the portrait genre in Italy, the poetics of Italian portraiture, critical languages employed to describe Italian portraits, and more. VERDICT This beautiful, significant, expertly presented, and scholarly publication will be of considerable interest to many museum visitors, students, scholars, professionals, and others. It belongs on shelves everywhere.‚ Cheryl Ann Lajos, Free Lib. of Philadelphia

OrangeReviewStar Arts & Humanities Reviews, January 2012The Moment: Wild, Poignant, Life-Changing Stories from 125 Writers and Artists Famous and Obscure. HarperPerennial: HarperCollins. Jan. 2012. c.368p. ed. by Larry Smith. ISBN 9780061719653. pap. $14.99. LIT

Have you ever taken a wrong turn and never looked back, or picked door number one instead of door number two? The results of split-second choices and unexpected events frame this fascinating collection of new, brief, personal narratives solicited by Smith (founding editor, SMITH magazine). Here are words and sketches by 125 contributors whose on-the-spot decisions or transformational moments led to a permanent change in lifestyle, career, or relationships. Melissa Etheridge details her decision to perform at the 2005 Grammy Awards when she was undergoing chemotherapy. In Those Old Keys, it’s the clacking of the keys on his father’s typewriter that inspire NPR’s Alan Cheuse to become a writer. If I Don’t Die Today, I Will Marry Kristin Moore describes the decision photojournalist Aaron Huey made while crawling through a muddy field as Taliban gunfighters shot over him. First kisses, childbirth, accidents, and jury verdicts are other topics covered. VERDICT Each author’s ability to concisely describe such big moments pulls the reader in. Book and writing groups will have a lot to talk about after reading this first-rate collection.‚ Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL

OrangeReviewStar Arts & Humanities Reviews, January 2012Kessler-Harris, Alice. A Difficult Woman: The Challenging Life and Times of Lillian Hellman. Bloomsbury Pr., dist. by Macmillan. Apr. 2012. c.448p. photogs. ISBN 9781596913639. $30. THEATER

In this superb biography of Lillian Hellman (1905‚ 84), Kessler-Harris (R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of American History, Columbia Univ.; Out To Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States) deftly intertwines the playwright’s story with that of a continually changing modern culture. She discusses Hellman’s early upbringing, personal relationships with Dashiell Hammett and others, plays (e.g., The Children’s Hour; The Little Foxes; Watch on the Rhine) and their backgrounds and subtle moral complexities, controversial political views and trouble during the McCarthy era, and turbulent final years. Kessler-Harris provides in-depth analyses and objective commentary in a seamless, comprehensive biographical portrait‚ one of an often contradictory individual, at once charming and abrasive, talented and insecure, and an advocate of truth who was also publicly accused of lying. The innovative and defiantly independent Hellman is placed at the heart of a social landscape from the 1920s and the Great Depression through the Cold War, Civil Rights Movement, and beyond. VERDICT This thoughtfully crafted work of scholarship, supported by extensive research and interviews, illuminates the life and output of a major literary figure as well as the times in which she lived. It will appeal to a wide readership. [See Prepub Alert, 10/23/11.]‚ Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ
 Arts & Humanities Reviews, January 2012

OrangeReviewStar Arts & Humanities Reviews, January 2012Liu Xiaobo. June Fourth Elegies. Graywolf. Apr. 2012. c.292p. tr. from Chinese by Jeffrey Yang. ISBN 9781555976101. $26. POETRY

Currently a political prisoner in China, human rights activist and 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu wrote an annual elegy for 20 years in homage to victims of the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen Square Massacre. Characterized by passion, sorrow, guilt, and anger against the ongoing repression masked by China’s rhetoric of democratization and economic growth (Life’s little comforts have pardoned the crimes), the poems are emotionally direct and unadorned. They are cries from the heart of despair, and their imagery (helmets, handcuffs, bayonets, tanks, blood) is stark, derived from the events of that day. Despite the dehumanization he has witnessed, the poet struggles to maintain his sense of self (my soul that’s been exiled is still mine) as well as preserve a cultural and historical memory his government would like to erase. VERDICT The urgency and truly risky candor of these poems outweigh their occasional repetition and flat diction. They remind us that poetry remains a dangerous practice in some parts of the world, and that although poets may be silenced, their poems will still be heard (One letter is enough/ for me to transcend and face/ you to speak). Recommended for most collections.‚ Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY

OrangeReviewStar Arts & Humanities Reviews, January 2012St. John, David. The Auroras. Harper: HarperCollins. Mar. 2012. c.96p. ISBN 9780062088482. $24.99. POETRY

An aurora is an atmospheric light display, a natural event with perhaps mystical overtones. In this aptly titled volume, St. John (Study for the World’s Body) gives readers shimmering lights of word and thought, renderings that contain the most glorious sound [and sights], chimes & rattles & an iridescence in the ear‚ . St. John divides his work into three sections, the first presenting an assortment of ballads, with characters ranging from philosophers to mathematicians. In the next, he examines the landscapes of his youth, some rife with loss; the suffering of the characters is real or metaphorical, and salvation can come full of mystery. The last section presents a dozen poems honoring auroras‚ some of the loveliest poems in the collection, full of magic and light: Tell me. What is the ‚Äòbeautiful,’ what is the ‚Äòlost,’ & what lives still, just/ at the edge of the sound of the trees? It could be the syllables of habit;/ it could be a single phrase of gratitude… or an unbroken prayer. Tell me./ What will stay, & what will hold its grace & lasting ease? VERDICT Essential for readers of contemporary poetry.‚ Karla Huston, Wisconsin Acad. of Sciences, Arts & Letters, Madison


The following titles are reviewed in the January print issue. Visit our Reviews Center (Beta) for the full reviews.

Arts

Bass, Jennifer & Pat Kirkham. Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design. Laurence King, dist. by Chronicle. 2011. 428p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781856697521. $75. GRAPHIC ARTS

Dransart, Penelope & Helen Wolfe. Textiles from the Andes. Interlink: Interlink Pub. Group. Jan. 2012. c.88p. photogs. maps. ISBN 9781566568593. pap. $20. DEC ARTS

Gordon, Beverly. Textiles: The Whole Story; Uses, Meanings, Significance. Thames & Hudson, dist. by Norton. 2011. 304p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780500515662. $60. DEC ARTS

Karlstrom, Paul J. Peter Selz: Sketches of a Life in Art. Univ. of California. Jan. 2012. c.321p. photogs. bibliog. ISBN 9780520269354. $34.95. FINE ARTS

LaGamma, Alisa. Heroic Africans: Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures. Metropolitan Museum of Art, dist. by Yale Univ. 2011. 312p. photogs. maps. index. ISBN 9780300175844. $60. FINE ARTS

Lessing, Erich (photogs.) & Anja Grebe (text). The Louvre: All the Paintings. Black Dog & Leventhal. 2011. 784p. ed. by Vincent Pomarède. illus. index. ISBN 9781579128869. $75. FINE ARTS

Plains Indian Art: The Pioneering Work of John C. Ewers. Univ. of Oklahoma. (Charles M. Russell Ctr. on Art & Photography of the American West, Vol. 8). 2011. c.224p. ed. by Jane Ewers Robinson. illus. index. ISBN 9780806130613. $39.95. FINE ARTS

The Renaissance Portrait: From Donatello to Bellini. Metropolitan Museum of Art, dist. by Yale Univ. 2011. 432p. ed. by Keith Christiansen & Stefan Weppelmann. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300175912. $65. FINE ARTS

Simon, Joe & Jack Kirby. The Simon & Kirby Library: Crime. Titan. 2011. 320p. illus. ISBN 9781848569607. $49.95. FINE ARTS

Wolff, Justin. Thomas Hart Benton: A Life. Farrar. Mar. 2012. c.432p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780374199876. $40. FINE ARTS

Literature

Bram, Christopher. Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America. Twelve: Hachette. Feb. 2012. c.320p. index. ISBN 9780446563130. $27.99. LIT

Hayes, Kevin J. A Journey Through American Literature. Oxford Univ. Mar. 2012. c.240p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199862078. $74; pap. ISBN 9780199862061. $17.95. LIT

The Moment: Wild, Poignant, Life-Changing Stories from 125 Writers and Artists Famous and Obscure. HarperPerennial: HarperCollins. Jan. 2012. c.368p. ed. by Larry Smith. ISBN 9780061719653. pap. $14.99. LIT

Vejdovsky, Boris with Mariel Hemingway. Hemingway: A Life in Pictures. Firefly. 2011. 208p. photogs. ISBN 9781554079469. pap. $29.95. LIT

Performing Arts

Gubern, Román & Paul Hammond. Luis Bu√±uel: The Red Years, 1929‚ 1939. Univ. of Wisconsin. Jan. 2012. c.434p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780299284749. pap. $34.95. FILM

Hartman, Kent. The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll’s Best-Kept Secret. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Feb. 2012. c.304p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780312619749. $25.99. MUSIC

Kessler-Harris, Alice. A Difficult Woman: The Challenging Life and Times of Lillian Hellman. Bloomsbury Pr., dist. by Macmillan. Apr. 2012. c.448p. photogs. ISBN 9781596913639. $30. THEATER

Lord, M.G. The Accidental Feminist: How Elizabeth Taylor Raised Our Consciousness and We Were Too Distracted by Her Beauty To Notice. Walker. Feb. 2012. c.192p. photogs. bibliog. ISBN 9780802716699. $22. FILM

Louvin, Charlie with Benjamin Whitmer. Satan Is Real: The Ballad of the Louvin Brothers. It: HarperCollins. Jan. 2012. c.320p. photogs. ISBN 9780062069030. $22.99. MUSIC

Riley, Kathleen. The Astaires: Fred & Adele. Oxford Univ. Mar. 2012. c.272p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199738410. $27.95. DANCE

Santopietro, Tom. The Godfather Effect: Changing Hollywood, America, and Me. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Feb. 2012. c.320p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781250005137. $25.99. FILM

Philosophy

Jackendoff, Ray. A User’s Guide to Thought and Meaning. Oxford Univ. Apr. 2012. c.288p. illus. index. ISBN 9780199693207. $29.95. PHIL

Poetry

Asekoff, L.S. Freedom Hill: A Poem. Triquarterly: Northwestern Univ. 2011. c.72p. ISBN 9780810127081. pap. $16.95. POETRY

Carlson, Ron. Room Service: Poems, Meditations, Outcries & Remarks. Red Hen. Mar. 2012. c.95p. ISBN 9781597092333. pap. $17.95. POETRY

Collins, Martha. White Papers. Univ. of Pittsburgh. Feb. 2012. c.80p. ISBN 9780822961840. pap. $15.95. POETRY

Liu Xiaobo. June Fourth Elegies. Graywolf. Apr. 2012. c.292p. tr. from Chinese by Jeffrey Yang. ISBN 9781555976101. $26. POETRY

Powell, D.A. Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys. Graywolf. Feb. 2012. c.80p. ISBN 9781555976057. $22. POETRY

Shapiro, Alan. Night of the Republic. Houghton Harcourt. Jan. 2012. c.80p. ISBN 9780547329703. $21. POETRY

St. John, David. The Auroras. Harper: HarperCollins. Mar. 2012. c.96p. ISBN 9780062088482. $24.99. POETRY

Religion

de Botton, Alain. Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion. Pantheon. Mar. 2012. c.320p. illus. index. ISBN 9780307379108. $26.95. REL

DeConick, April D. Holy Misogyny: Why the Sex and Gender Conflicts in the Early Church Still Matter. Continuum. 2011. 200p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780826405616. $24.95. REL

Duffy, Eamon. Ten Popes Who Shook the World. Yale Univ. 2011. c.160p. illus. index. ISBN 9780300176889. $25. REL

Enns, Peter. The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say About Human Origins. Brazos. Jan. 2012. c.192p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781587433153. pap. $17.99. REL

McCauley, Robert N. Why Religion Is Natural and Science Is Not. Oxford Univ. 2011. c.352p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199827268. $29.95. REL

Sports & Recreation

Radnedge, Keir. FIFA World Soccer Records 2012. Carlton, dist. by Sterling. 2011. 256p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781847328922. $29.95. SPORTS

Roberts, Randy. A Team for America: The Army-Navy Game That Rallied a Nation. Houghton Harcourt. 2011. c.288p. index. ISBN 9780547511061. $26. SPORTS

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