Arts & Humanities Reviews, July 2012

starred review star Fliegel, Stephen N. A Higher Contemplation: Sacred Meaning in the Christian Art of the Middle Ages. Kent State Univ., dist. by BookMasters. (Sacred Landmarks). 2012. 128p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781606350935. $42. FINE ARTS

In this guidebook to the content and symbolism of medieval Christian visual art, Fliegel (curator, medieval art, Cleveland Museum of Art; Resplendent Faith: Liturgical Treasuries of the Middle Ages) clearly explains the early Christian and Byzantine perception of images and then explores in detail pictures of saints and angels, images of the cross and crucifixion, and the many visual varieties of the cult of Mary in the later Middle Ages. The book also briefly describes Byzantine and western European societies as well as their evolution between 300 and 1600 C.E., the period which created the imagery exemplified in the book’s generally excellent illustrations, many drawn from the Cleveland Museum of Art’s outstanding medieval collection. The images’ content‚ self-evident to contemporary observers when it was created‚ requires explanation today for many; for present-day readers the glossary provides simple definitions of terms and religious concepts in common currency in the past but less so in the present. VERDICT Highly recommended for general readers and art history collections.‚ Jack Perry Brown, Art Inst. of Chicago Libs.

Zuckerman, Peter & Amanda Padoan. Buried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of Sherpa Climbers on K2’s Deadliest Day. Norton. 2012. c.320p. photogs. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780393079883. $26.95. REC

Journalists Zuckerman and Padoan examine the 2008 mountaineering tragedy on K2, when 11 climbers on various expeditions died. They focus on the backgrounds and roles of survivors Chhiring Dorje Sherpa and Pasang Lama, as well as other Himalayan-born high-altitude workers. Providing historical and religious background on Nepal and the Sherpa ethnic group, and a judiciously crafted chronicle of the devastating series of incidents that left 11 dead, this narrative is well organized and chilling. Zuckerman and Padoan’s extensive research, including information gathered from many translated interviews with survivors, provides clear evidence to support their version of events, and their conclusions raise hard ethical questions about often-impoverished local workers risking their lives to satisfy the ambitions of Western climbers. VERDICT Since many climbing chronicles tend to neglect the essential and expert contributions of Nepali Sherpas and Pakistani high-altitude workers, this work’s alternative viewpoint is eye-opening. Best suited to mountaineering and adventure buffs who should also consider Freddie Wilkinson’s One Mountain Thousand Summits: The Untold Story of Tragedy and True Heroism on K2.‚ Ingrid Levin, Salve Regina Univ. Lib., Newport, RI

Coleman, Julie. The Life of Slang. Oxford Univ. 2012. c.352p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199571994. $27.95. LANG

What is slang and its life cycle of development? Taking the position that language is alive, the author aims to answer questions for general readers. We might easily recognize slang, but can we explain why we label certain language as such? Coleman (English language, Univ. of Leicester; The History of Cant and Slang Dictionaries) brings expertise to the subject, incorporating language quotes into her discussion (this is not a dictionary-style listing of phrases). With deep historical knowledge and a UK-centric perspective, Coleman surveys slang from the Middle Ages to the present and provides examples from around the English-speaking world. Need to distinguish among standard and colloquial language, jargon, and slang? Wonder why so much slang emerged from the military and schools? Coleman provides answers. Employing a chatty tone, she explains the role of the Oxford English Dictionary in etymology instead of assuming readers already understand such context. Still, the topic’s depth, together with its supporting references, keep the work scholarly. VERDICT As a specialized source, this is recommended for serious language students.‚ Marianne Orme, Des Plaines P.L., IL

The following titles are reviewed in the July print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.


Jones, Louisa (text) & Clive Nichols (photogs.). Mediterranean Landscape Design: Vernacular Contemporary. Thames & Hudson, dist. by Norton. 2012. 224p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780500516119. $60. ARCHITECTURE

Patch, Diana Craig. Dawn of Egyptian Art. Metropolitan Museum of Art, dist. by Yale Univ. 2012. 288p. illus. bibliog. maps. index. ISBN 9780300179521. $60. FINE ARTS

Rubin, William. A Curator’s Quest: Building the Collection of Painting and Sculpture of the Museum of Modern Art, 1967‚ 1988. Overlook Duckworth. 2012. 480p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781590201176. $100. FINE ARTS

Wahrman, Dror. Mr. Collier’s Letter Racks: A Tale of Art & Illusion at the Threshold of the Modern Information Age. Oxford Univ. Aug. 2012. c.288p. illus. index. ISBN 9780199738861. $34.95. FINE ARTS


Baker, Nicholson. The Way the World Works: Essays. S. & S. Aug. 2012. c.304p. ISBN 9781416572473. $25. LIT

Central Park: An Anthology. Bloomsbury, dist. by Macmillan. 2012. 240p. ed. by Andrew Blauner. ISBN 9781608196005. pap. $17. LIT

Lowe, Hilary Iris. Mark Twain’s Homes & Literary Tourism. Univ. of Missouri. (Mark Twain and His Circle) Jul. 2012. c.256p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780826219763. $40. LIT

Szalay, Michael. Hip Figures: A Literary History of the Democratic Party. Stanford Univ. (Post•45) Jul. 2012. c.352p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780804776349. $80. pap. ISBN 9780804776356. $24.95. LIT

Performing Arts

Hoberman, J. Film After Film: Or, What Became of 21st-Century Cinema? Verso, dist. by Norton. Jul. 2012. c.192p. index. ISBN 9781844677511. $19.95. FILM

Hopkinson, Natalie. Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City. Duke Univ. 2012. c.232p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780822352206. $79.95. pap. ISBN 9780822352112. pap. $22.95. MUSIC

Spoto, Donald. The Redgraves: A Family Epic. Crown Archetype. Oct. 2012. c.384p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780307720146. $26. FILM


Holt, Jim. Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story. Liveright: Norton. Jul. 2012. c.320p. index. ISBN 9780871404091. $27.95. PHIL


Barnett, Catherine. The Game of Boxes. Graywolf. Aug. 2012. c.88p. ISBN 9781555976200. pap. $15. POETRY

Bohnice, Paula. The Children. Sarabande, dist. by Consortium. 2012. c.80p. ISBN 9781936747283. pap. $14.95. POETRY

Dickman, Matthew. Mayakovsky’s Revolver. Norton. Oct. 2012. c.112p. ISBN 9780393081190. $25.95. POETRY

Pennock, Matthew. Sudden Dog. Alice James. 2012. c.80p. ISBN 9781882295920. pap. $15.95. POETRY

Shaughnessy, Brenda. Our Andromeda. Copper Canyon. Sept. 2012. c.96p. ISBN 9781556594106. pap. $16. POETRY

Teicher, Craig Morgan. To Keep Love Blurry. BOA, dist. by Consortium. (American Poets Continuum Series, No. 135). Sept. 2012. c.110p. ISBN 9781934414934. pap. $16. POETRY

Wing, Catherine. Gin & Bleach. Sarabande, dist. by Consortium. Jul. 2012. c.72p. ISBN 9781936747306. pap. $14.95. POETRY


Brettler, Marc Zvi & others. The Bible and the Believer: How to Read the Bible Critically and Religiously. Oxford Univ. Oct. 2012. c.224p. index. ISBN 9780199863006. $27.95. REL

Hackett, Paul G. Theos Bernard, the White Lama: Tibet, Yoga, and American Religious Life. Columbia Univ. 2012. c.352p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780231158862. $32.95. REL