Arts & Humanities Reviews, May 15, 2012

Carr, Cynthia. Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz. Bloomsbury, dist. by Macmillan. Jul. 2012. c.640p. photogs. bibliog. ISBN 9781596915336. $35. FINE ARTS

Former Village Voice columnist Carr (Our Town: A Heartland Lynching, a Haunted Town, and the Hidden History of White America) weaves an intense if sometimes over-detailed portrait of a complex artist in a complex time. Carr knew David Wojnarowicz (1954‚ 92), the controversial creator of the art film A Fire in My Belly, and she bears him witness in this politically charged look at his life. She writes of his painful life and prolific career as a poet, artist, and activist before he died from AIDS at age 37, and, at the same time, she documents the rise and fall of the East Village arts scene in the 1980s. Using her skills as a reporter, Carr has pieced together this moving though unsentimental tribute from interviews with friends, candid conversations with Wojnarowicz before his death, and his own deep and provocative writings. She also discusses the politics then and now that dominate the so-called culture wars. VERDICT An up-close look at the devastation of AIDS, this first full-length biography explains Wojnarowicz’s powerful iconography in the context of a (literally) dying art scene. Recommended for art and queer studies scholars. [See Prepub Alert, 1/21/12.]‚ Marianne Laino Sade, Maryland Inst. Coll. of Art Lib., Baltimore

starred review starBonnet, Jacques. Phantoms on the Bookshelves. Overlook: dist. by Penguin. Jul. 2012. c.144p. tr. from French by Si√¢n Reynolds. bibliog. ISBN 9781590207598. $17.95. LIT

French art critic and novelist Bonnet (Un jeune homme rebelle) published these ruminations, inspired by his book-gathering habits, in France in 2008. They are now translated by Reynolds (Marriage and Revolution: Monsieur and Madame Roland) and introduced by novelist James Salter (A Sport and a Pastime). In nine pieces plus a preface, Bonnet recalls particular biblio-moments in his life, or glances at a book on his shelves (he believes he now possesses about 40,000 volumes), then takes readers with him as he connects anecdote to anecdote, book to book, insight to insight. He is not a collector in the recent fashion of buying, say, a mint-condition Pynchon and not reading it for fear of lowering its value. He buys to support his interests and to read. He is compelled by the varied human bonds with books, the quandaries that the urge to buy them brings, the ways books can connect us, the criteria (or lack thereof) by which we arrange them on our shelves, and the range of libraries he has encountered, both fictional and real, extant and departed. VERDICT The book’s ideal readers will be those who share Bonnet’s love of being surrounded by the evidence of their minds’ journeys, insatiable readers who love to linger over large and quirky accumulations of the printed word. For those readers, highly recommended.‚ Margaret Heilbrun, Library Journal

Yau, John. Further Adventures in Monochrome. Copper Canyon. 2012. c.158p. ISBN 9781556593963. pap. $15. POETRY

Chinese American poet/critic Yau, whose many titles include National Poetry Series winner Corpse and Mirror, here shows that poetry can tackle sociological issues while making language fresh. The poet assumes that with imagination giving daily experience meaning and beauty, a single chronicled reality can bring forth others, and his poems vividly record this act of becoming: I am interested in what is, and what is not/ I try to find a way from one to another/ I don’t like any, least of all mine. The often short, fragmented lines and crafty distribution of space give the poems a dynamic feel; some poems blend surrealism and parody so that past and present narrate each other. A dominant theme is identity, particularly exiled or marginalized identity, which Yau explores through the clever deployment of Asian symbols, as in the series poem Genghis Chan: Privet Eye. VERDICT Yau uses his heritage beautifully to enrich and expand his poetic adventure. Recommended for all poetry readers.‚ Sadiq Alkoriji, South Regional Lib., Broward Cty., FL

The following titles are reviewed in the May 15 print issue. Visit our Reviews Center (Beta) for the full reviews.


Lawrence, Ernest R. Alone with the Past: The Life and Photographic Art of Roland W. Reed. Afton Historical Society. May 2012. c.244p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781890434847. $45. PHOTOG

Pearlman, Ellen. Nothing & Everything: The Influence of Buddhism on the American Avant-Garde; 1942‚ 1962. Evolver: North Atlantic. 2012. c.272p. bibliog. ISBN 9781583943632. pap. $21.95. FINE ARTS

Princes and Painters in Mughal Delhi, 1707‚ 1857. Asia Society in assoc. with Yale Univ. 2012. 224p. ed. by William Dalrymple & Yuthika Sharma. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300176667. $60. FINE ARTS

Ross, Josephine. Beaton in Vogue. Thames & Hudson, dist. by Norton. 2012. 240p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780500290248. pap. $39.95. DEC ARTS

Shell, Hanna Rose. Hide and Seek: Camouflage, Photography, and the Media of Reconnaissance. Zone, dist. by MIT. 2012. c.240p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781935408222. $32.95. PHOTOG

Whitehouse, David. Glass: A Short History. Smithsonian Bks., dist. by Random. 2012. c.128p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781588343246. $35. DEC ARTS


Hustvedt, Siri.

Living, Thinking, Looking: Essays. Picador. Jun. 2012. c.400p. ISBN 9781250009524. pap. $18. LIT

Tóibín, Colm. New Ways To Kill Your Mother: Writers and Their Families. Scribner. Jun. 2012. c.288p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781451668551. $26. LIT

Wharton, Edith. My Dear Governess: The Letters of Edith Wharton to Anna Bahlmann. Yale Univ. Jun. 2012. c.336p. ed. by Irene Goldman-Price. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300169898. $30. LIT

Performing Arts

Bukszpan, Daniel. The Encyclopedia of New Wave. Sterling. Jun. 2012. 304p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781402784729. pap. $24.95. MUSIC

Doggett, Peter. The Man Who Sold the World: David Bowie and the 1970s. Harper: HarperCollins. Aug. 2012. c.512p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062024657. $26.99. MUSIC

Gioia, Ted. The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire. Oxford Univ. Jul. 2012. c.528p. discog. index. ISBN 9780199769155. pap. $39.95. MUSIC

Lynn, Loretta. Honky Tonk Girl: My Life in Lyrics. Knopf. 2012. c.240p. photogs. ISBN 9780307594891. $29.95. MUSIC

Marmorstein, Gary. A Ship Without a Sail: The Life of Lorenz Hart. S. & S. Jul. 2012. c.576p. photogs. bibliog. index. discog. ISBN 9781416594253. $30. MUSIC

Reineke, Hank. Arlo Guthrie: The Warner/Reprise Years. Scarecrow. (American Folk Music and Musicians, No. 16). Jun. 2012. c.320p. photogs. bibliog. index. discog. ISBN 9780810883314. $55. MUSIC

Weiss, Jason. Always in Trouble: An Oral History of ESP-Disk’, the Most Outrageous Record Label in America. Wesleyan Univ. May 2012. c.326p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780819571588. $75; pap. ISBN 9780819571595. $24.95. MUSIC


Abbate, Francesca. Troy, Unincorporated. Univ. of Chicago. May 2012. c.88p. ISBN 9780226001203. pap. $18. POETRY

Noftle, Kelli Anne. I Was There for Your Somniloquy. Omnidawn, dist. by IPG. 2012. c.72p. ISBN 9781890650599. pap. $15.95. POETRY


Niose, David. Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans. Palgrave Macmillan. Jul. 2012. c.256p. index. ISBN 9780230338951. $27. REL

Sports & Recreation

Povletich, William. Green Bay Packers: Trials, Triumphs, and Tradition. Wisconsin Historical Society. Jul. 2012. c.416p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780870204975. pap. $26.95. SPORTS