Arts & Humanities Reviews, June 15, 2012

starred review starKendall, Tim. The Art of Robert Frost. Yale Univ. 2012. c.408p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300118131. $35. LIT

Kendall (English, Univ. of Exeter; Sylvia Plath) traces the development of core themes throughout the work of Robert Frost. The selection of poems addressed is based on quality and variety and covers the range of Frost’s career, but the majority were written between 1890 and 1920. Each of the included poems is followed by a brief essay demonstrating Kendall’s phenomenal abilities. In a page or two, he provides complete analysis of structure, language, and motifs in an easily accessible way. He even manages to incorporate other Frost scholars for perspective and identifies Frost’s influences to provide context. Experts and novices alike will gain great insight into‚ and better understanding of‚ Frost’s works. VERDICT Kendall is a masterful critic and teacher. Any fan or student of Robert Frost or of poetry in general should pick this up immediately. Also, those who struggle with understanding poetry will find in this work a guide not only to interpreting Frost, but to developing close reading skills.‚ Paolina Taglienti, Everest College, Henderson, NV

starred review starNiven, Penelope. Thornton Wilder: A Life. Harper: HarperCollins. Oct. 2012. c.848p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780060831363. $34.99. LIT

Popular and critically acclaimed American writer Thornton Wilder (1897‚ 1975) was a three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize (for his novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey and for his plays Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth). Niven (writer in residence, Salem Coll.; Carl Sandburg: A Biography) had access to previously unavailable primary materials both from Wilder’s sister’s extensive accumulation of materials, now at Yale’s Beinecke Library, and from his nephew and literary executor, who made more information available, thus enabling readers to gain deeper understanding of Wilder the man and Wilder the scholar. Although Wilder is at the center of this work, it relates very much to his family as well, providing the most complete, in-depth portrait of the author to date. Niven presents a detailed picture of Wilder from his youthful writing attempts to his success as a mature novelist and playwright who counted F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein as friends. VERDICT Fast-paced and engaging, this work is essential for academic readers with an interest in American literature and culture. It will also appeal to the more general reader of American biography.‚ Alison M. Lewis, Drexel Univ., Philadelphia

Dillon, Mark. Fifty Sides of the Beach Boys. ECW, dist. by IPG. Jun. 2012. c.360p. photogs. ISBN 9781770410718. pap. $19.95. MUSIC

Hot on the heels of the Beach Boys’ 50th anniversary tour and album, this book presents a look at one of the biggest bands in the history of popular music. Freelance writer Dillon has constructed a Beach Boys book that not only shares information about the band itself, but also fully communicates the deep influence that their catalog has had on the music world. The layout of the book, 50 short essays that each address a different song, makes it an easy but lively read. Famous musicians and fans‚ ranging from Lyle Lovett, Alice Cooper, Cameron Crowe, and Zooey Deschanel to Brian Wilson himself‚ share their perspectives on the music. Readers are never overwhelmed, and the perfect portions of information will encourage them to seek out more of the band’s music. VERDICT Focusing on both the Beach Boys in pop culture as well as the band’s spiritual interests, this title gives all fans of the band’s music something great to read. Readers will come to appreciate the depth of the Beach Boys’ work and recognize the breadth of their influence. Recommended.‚ Justin Hoenke, Portland P.L., ME

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

Falkenburg, Reindert. The Land of Unlikeness: Hieronymous Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights. W. 2012. 320p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9789040077678. $95. FINE ARTS

McPhee, Sarah. Bernini’s Beloved: A Portrait of Costanza Piccolomini. Yale Univ. 2012. c.280p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300175271. $45. FINE ARTS

Respini, Eva. Cindy Sherman. Museum of Modern Art, dist. by D.A.P. 2012. 264p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780879798121. $60. PHOTOG

Sandweiss, Eric. The Day in Its Color: Charles Cushman’s Photographic Journey Through a Vanishing America. Oxford Univ. 2012. 237p. illus. index. ISBN 9780199772339. $39.95. photog

Stern, Robert A.M. Tradition and Invention in Architecture: Conversations and Essays. Yale Univ. 2012. 208p. ed. by Cynthia Davidson. photogs. index. ISBN 9780300181159. $40. FINE ARTS


Albert Camus: Solitude and Solidarity. Edition Olms, dist. by Trafalgar Square. Aug. 2012. 224p. ed. by Catherine Camus with Marcelle Mahasela. tr. from French by Joseph Laredo. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9783283011888. $59.95. LIT

Bowker, Gordon. James Joyce: A New Biography. Farrar. Jun. 2012. c.624p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780374178727. $35. LIT

Hadfield, Andrew. Edmund Spenser: A Life. Oxford Univ. Aug. 2012. c.420p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199591022. $45. LIT

Performing Arts

Croce, Ingrid & Jimmy Rock. I Got a Name: The Jim Croce Story. Da Capo. Jun. 2012. c.288p. photogs. ISBN 9780306821219. $25. MUSIC

Edwards, Anne. Leaving Home: A Hollywood Blacklisted Writer’s Years Abroad. Scarecrow. Aug. 2012. c.248p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780810881990. $29.95. FILM

Sheen, Martin & Emilio Estevez with Hope Edelman. Along the Way: The Journey of a Father and a Son. Free Pr: S. & S. 2012. c.352p. illus. index. ISBN 9781451643688. $27. FILM


Cronk, Laura. Having Been an Accomplice. Persea Bks, dist. by Norton. Jun. 2012. c.80p. ISBN 9780892554133. pap. $15. POETRY

McGriff, Michael. Home Burial. Copper Canyon. 2012. c.96p. ISBN 9781556593840. pap. $15. POETRY

Plumly, Stanley. Orphan Hours. Norton. Jun. 2012. c.112p. ISBN 9780393076646. $25.95. POETRY


Borg, Marcus J. Evolution of the Word: The New Testament in the Order the Books Were Written. HarperOne: HarperCollins. Jun. 2012. c.608p. ISBN 9780062082107. $29.99. REL

Fredriksen, Paula. Sin: The Early History of an Idea. Princeton Univ. Jul. 2012. c.208p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780691128900. $24.95. REL

McCormick, Matt S. Atheism and the Case Against Christ. Prometheus. Jul. 2012. c.330p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781616145811. pap. $330. REL

Walzer, Michael. In God’s Shadow: Politics in the Hebrew Bible. Yale Univ. Jun. 2012. c.256p. index. ISBN 9780300180442. $28. REL

Wilson, Jeff. Dixie Dharma: Inside a Buddhist Temple in the American South. Univ. of North Carolina. 2012. c.296p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780807835456. $36.95. REL