Arts & Humanities Reviews, December 2011

Noël, Bernard. The Rest of the Voyage. Graywolf. 2011. c.208p. tr. from French by Eléna Rivera. ISBN 9781555976002. pap. $16. POETRY
French poet Noël (The Face of Silence), winner of the Grand Prix National de la Poésie, here contemplates time, memory, history, death, and, especially, our voyage toward self-discovery. The book is divided into three sections, each expanding on the experience of seeing, whether actually or figuratively. In the face of history’s grand narrative, the poet takes a more personal approach, liberating us from time’s accumulation of stories by clearly delineating the diverse voices he presents. This is the poet as creator, casting his sight on objects visible and invisible to bring them to the fullness of life: it isn’t important to have a green thumb/ but to be able to bring through the branches/ this flowering of air that we call being. Noël’s various techniques include cinematic scenes, theatrical monolog, detailed historical accounts, and photographic shots to create a vivid text. Poet-translator Rivera, winner of the Robert Fagles Translation Prize for this book, skillfully captures the energy and beauty of the original. VERDICT Noël’s poetry brings a deep sense of life to the elusive relationship between the self and reality. For all readers.‚ Sadiq Alkoriji, Broward Cty. Lib. Syst., Pembroke Pines, FL

Fry, Stephen. The Fry Chronicles: An Autobiography. Overlook, dist. by Penguin. Jan. 2012. c.448p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781590207147. $27.95. TV
From his love affair with sugar to his star-studded years at Cambridge and beyond, writer and actor Fry found his place in British television (e.g., A Bit of Fry & Laurie), film (e.g., Wilde), radio, and theater. Picking up where his first book, Moab Is My Washpot, left off, he lets us see his playful, vulnerable side as he relates college life at Cambridge. Working with Rowan Atkinson, Hugh Laurie, and Emma Thompson, he soon found himself among the best of the best of British performers. His appreciation for the craft, love for the written word, and an almost unhealthy need to please people add to the humanity of his autobiography. Willing to do the work to reap the fame, Fry illustrates what it takes with hilarity, wit, and linguistic flair. VERDICT Fry weaves a no-holds-barred account and reveals sometimes difficult truths about himself and the nature of celebrity. Readers of Graham Norton’s So Me and Fry’s other books will enjoy his journey of self-discovery. Highly recommended for fans of his comedic work and those interested in drama.‚ Rochelle LeMaster, Medina Cty. Dist. Lib., Lodi, OH

Gautier, Jér√¥me. Chanel: The Vocabulary of Style. Yale Univ. 2011. c.304p. photogs. ISBN 9780300175660. $100. DEC ARTS
Gabrielle Coco Chanel’s original designs mingle with Karl Lagerfeld’s contemporary interpretations for the House of Chanel in this profusely illustrated analysis. Journalist and fashion historian Gautier organizes the book not chronologically but by ideas he calls Chanel identifiers‚ little black dresses, tweed suits, and simple clothes inspired by menswear. Lagerfeld’s vision, Gautier argues, made Chanel’s fashion heresies relevant again for late 20th-century women. Chanel herself dominates this book, however. Gautier’s explorations of the cultural norms Chanel flouted in her use of jersey and tweed and her invocations of androgyny are compelling. Photographs, identified in end credits, serve not only as historical documents but as methods of disseminating Chanel’s style vocabulary, beautifully demonstrated here in images by Annie Leibovitz, Edward Steichen, Mario Testino, Cecil Beaton, Horst P. Horst, Richard Avedon, and Patrick Demarchelier, among others. VERDICT Elegant enough for gift giving and weighty enough to engage fashion scholars; lavish photos support significant chapters on Chanel the revolutionary.‚ Lindsay M. King, Yale Univ. Lib., New Haven, CT