Xpress Reviews: Nonfiction | First Look at New Books, July 13, 12

Week ending July 13, 2012

Cohen, Susan. London’s Afternoon Teas: A Guide to the Best of London’s Exquisite Tea Venues. New Holland, dist. by Sterling. 2012. 104p. photogs. ISBN 9781847739933. $14.95. TRAV
Cohen’s (Where To Take Tea: A Guide To Britain’s Best Tearooms) guide to London teahouses is as bright and lovely as many of the locations she describes. Over 30 teahouses are given a one- to two-page treatment, including descriptions of the types of teas offered and the general atmosphere. Special note is made when certain teas require reservations, or if there are days when certain teahouses are usually busier than others. The teahouses appear alphabetically; a useful map at the front of the book helps those looking for tea by location rather than name. Each teahouse’s important information is listed, including set teas, contact information, and nearby sites and Underground stations. A short collection of recipes at the end allows those of us with no London travel plans in the future to get a taste of London tea at home. The only shortcoming to this otherwise lovely guide is that some teahouses are listed by the hotel they are located in rather then by their proper names.
An excellent addition for anyone traveling to London or with a particular interest in tea.—Sara Miller, Atlanta-Fulton P.L. Syst.

Desrochers, Pierre & Hiroko Shimizu. The Locavore’s Dilemma: In Praise of the 10,000-Mile Diet. PublicAffairs, dist. by Perseus. 2012. c.304p. index. ISBN 9781586489403. $26.99. HEALTH
The locavore movement supports the idea that an ever-growing portion of our food supply should be produced in close physical proximity to the consumers who will eat it. Both former research fellows at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies, Desrochers (geography, Univ. of Toronto) and Shimizu examine myths perpetuated by the locavore movement, disagreeing with the notion that local food is desirable simply because of its geographical origin and not more affordable, nutritious, safer, or better-tasting than nonlocal food. The authors argue that widespread locavorism will lead to higher costs, increased poverty, greater food insecurity, less food safety, and much more significant environmental damage, unlike our current food system with its long history of a globalized food supply chain and that allows for economies of scale. Peppered with excerpts from historical writings on food and autarky (local self-sufficiency), the book points out that the historical evidence shows us that locavorism is a step backward on the road to food security.
This often acerbic, thoroughly researched, yet controversial title provides much food for thought on the often oversimplified but ever complex issue of food miles.—Pauline Baughman, Multnomah Cty. Lib., Portland, OR

Pierce-Baker, Charlotte. This Fragile Life: A Mother’s Story of a Bipolar Son. Lawrence Hill: Chicago Review, dist. by IPG. 2012. c.256p. ISBN 9781613741085. $24.95. PSYCH
A honest and heart-wrenching account of one family’s nightmare, this title by Pierce-Baker (women’s and gender studies, Vanderbilt Univ.; Surviving the Silence: Black Women’s Stories of Rape) tells the story of her son’s descent into the world of mental illness. She and her husband had provided their only child, Mark, with every advantage‚ paying for private Quaker school in Philadelphia, his undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and graduate school in California. They were ill-equipped, as all families seem to be, to deal with the diagnosis of bipolar disorder their son received at age 25. Pierce-Baker chronicles every month of their son’s diagnosis, treatment, struggles, high points (rare), and low points (frequent). She never imagined that her son’s life would include drugs, psychotic episodes, and jail‚ interspersed with numerous interventions and new therapies. But with the benefit of hindsight, she reflects that his childhood was not necessarily normal, that trigger events were overlooked, and that Mark’s poems and journals revealed a personality tormented by irrational fears and obsessions.
This book should be a sought-after account of a family’s struggle to deal with their son’s mental illness.—Linda Beck, Indian Valley P.L., Telford, PA

Sinclair, Iain. Ghost Milk: Recent Adventures Among the Future Ruins of London on the Eve of the Olympics. Faber & Faber. Jul. 2012. c.416p. photogs. ISBN 9780865478664. $28. TRAV
Anyone who loves a city knows how difficult it can be to watch it change over time, and there is nothing like the Olympics to alter dramatically an urban environs that holds both personal and cultural history. Longtime London resident Sinclair (Hackney; That Rose-Red Empire: A Confidential Report) once again walks his city, observing in detail the transformations that are unfolding. From tales of his years working in London shipyards in the 1970s to observations of the conversion of his old haunts to parks, protests of the destruction of neighborhood landmarks, and pointed criticism of increased security and Olympics-related corruption and scandals, these vignettes serve as a channel for his cynicism, frustration, and anger at the changes. He laments the destruction and development necessary for accommodating the upcoming games in what, at times, feels like a requiem for a quickly disappearing London.
Verdict This book is a searing condemnation of the intrusion of the Olympics into the landscape of London. Though the subject is timely and the writing at times elegant, this book quickly becomes tedious to those not intimately familiar with or interested in London.—Sheila Kasperek, Mansfield Univ. Lib., PA

Whitney Biennial 2012. Yale Univ. 2012. 320p. ed. by Elisabeth Sussman & Jay Sanders. illus. ISBN 9780300180367. pap. $45. FINE ARTS
Editors Sussman (Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography, Whitney Museum; Jane Wilson: Horizons) and independent curator and art critic Sanders, who organized the 2012 Whitney Biennial, also put together this accompanying exhibition catalog. With its substantial size and simple brick-red cover, this title looks like a phonebook from another era. But the catalog’s plain exterior belies its lively and imaginative interior design. It is filled with boldly arrayed images illustrating the works of the artists selected for the exhibition, creative page layouts, and an encyclopedic range of typefaces, making the texts themselves flowing and dynamic. Sussman and Sanders hoped to avoid the worst clichés of museum exhibition catalogs: writing laden with academic jargon and static, still photos of artworks in empty galleries. Here, essays by artists and critics John Kelsey, Andrea Fraser, and David Joselit have a searching, personal tone.
This is an unusual example of a catalog that really does succeed in offering readers a continuation of the experience one might have visiting this exhibition. Recommended for readers interested in contemporary art, museum studies, and graphic design.‚ Michael Dashkin, New York

Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox (blfox@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"