Arts Reviews | November 1, 2012

Wallace, David Foster. Both Flesh and Not: Essays. Little, Brown. Nov. 2012. c.336p. ISBN 9780316182379. $26.99. LIT

Each essay in this volume of previously uncollected nonfiction is a gem in its own DFW way. The topics are diverse yet representative of Wallace’s primary interests, ranging from an entry titled “The (as it were) Seminal Importance of Terminator 2” to “Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young,” a piece written in the eighties about American youth culture, television, and an emergent generation of pop-obsessed American novelists. Like so much of Wallace’s work, “Conspicuously Young” picks apart an ephemeral cultural moment with great discernment, yet still manages to stand up well decades after publication. There are, of course, deeply informed—yet still deeply pleasurable—nods to theoretical math, Wittgenstein as literature, and tennis as well as Wallace’s concerns regarding the perils of consumer culture. The overall effect of this collection is to remind us again just how expansive and talented a writer Wallace was, an author capable of producing profound essays around seemingly mundane details scattered amid the American cultural fabric. VERDICT This book is for all readers of contemporary nonfiction as well as serious fans of Wallace’s work.—Jim Hahn, Univ. of Illinois Lib., Urbana

starred review starCrothers, Tim. The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster. Scribner. Nov. 2012. c.224p. photogs. ISBN 9781451657814. $26. GAMES

In times of trouble, salvation may come from unlikely sources. For Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan teenager from one of the ugliest slums of Kampala, salvation was chess. She was introduced to the game when she followed her brother to a class set up by a Sports Outreach Institute coach as an alternative for underprivileged children who didn’t want to play soccer. The introverted girl, who couldn’t even read because her mother couldn’t afford schooling, at first wanted only to touch the strange chess pieces. The coach found another student who would teach her, and within five years she was competing in the prestigious Chess Olympiad in faraway Russia. But this isn’t a fairy tale. Two years after the tournament, Phiona still lives in Katwe. She still plays chess, she still hopes to escape, and she still hopes to serve as a role model for other Ugandan slum children, but whether her hopes will be realized remains unclear. VERDICT Not especially for chess buffs, this is a must read for all who dare to dream.—Jim Burns, Jacksonville P.L., FL

Rondeau, James & Sheena Wagstaff. Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective. Yale Univ. 2012. c.368p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300179712. $65. FINE ARTS

American painter and sculptor Roy ­Lichtenstein is best known as a progenitor of “classic” Pop Art in America, with his meticulously enlarged comic book cells—bowdlerized pastiches of tiny originals he appropriated from anonymous commercial artists. Wry and humorous while free of needless metaphorical weight, they epitomize the populism underpinning Pop and highlight abstract design characteristics hidden within banal source material. Although he has long been the recipient of ample critical attention, this handsome book by Rondeau (curator of contemporary art, Art Inst. of Chicago; Contemporary Collecting: The Donna and Howard Stone Collection) and Wagstaff (chief curator, Tate Modern; Juan Mu ñ oz) is the most complete retrospective since the artist’s death in 1997. More than 300 plates illustrating the arc of a prolific career are organized thematically rather than chronologically, reflecting a continuum of programmatic consistency throughout four decades of Lichtenstein’s oeuvre. Some welcome emphasis is given to his later work, such as landscapes in the Chinese style, and nudes again in the mock-comic mode. Additionally, nine scholarly essays—many by Rondeau and Wagstaff—focus on more specific aspects within various periods of the artist’s life. VERDICT This comprehensive, authoritative survey of a game-changing modernist is best suited to students of the postwar zeitgeist in the United States.—Douglas F. Smith, Berkeley P.L., CA

The following titles are reviewed in the November 1 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.


Dawoud Bey: Harlem, U.S.A. Art Inst. of Chicago, dist. by Yale Univ. 2012. c.88p. ed. by Matthew S. Witkovsky. photogs. ISBN 9780300181265. $25. PHOTOG

George Bellows. Prestel. 2012. 336p. ed. by Charles Brock. illus. ISBN 9783791351872. $60. FINE ARTS

McCrea, Ron. Building Taliesin: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home of Love and Loss. Wisconsin Historical Society. 2012. 240p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780870206061. pap. $35. ARCHITECTURE


Bradford, Richard. Martin Amis: The Biography. Pegasus. Nov. 2012. c.336p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781605983851. $29.95. LIT

Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey. Smart Pop: BenBella. Nov. 2012. c.304p. ed. by Lori Perkins. ISBN 9781937856427. pap. $14.95. LIT

Inose, Naoki. Persona: A Biography of Yukio Mishima. Stone Bridge, dist. by Consortium. Nov. 2012. c.856p. trans. fr. Japanese by Hiroaki Sato. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781611720082. $39.95. LIT

Slater, Michael. The Great Charles Dickens Scandal. Yale Univ. Nov. 2012. c.224p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300112191. $30. LIT

Transgressive Tales: Queering the Grimms. Wayne State Univ. (Fairy-Tale Studies). 2012. c.384p. ed. by Kay Turner and Pauline Greenhill. ISBN 9780814334812. $29.95. LIT


Criss, Peter & Larry Sloman. Makeup to Breakup: My Life In and Out of KISS. Scribner. 2012. c.365p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781451620825. $26. MUSIC

Sawyer, Phil & Tom Poland. Save the Last Dance for Me: A Love Story of the Shag and the Society of Stranders. Univ. of South Carolina. 2012. c.192p. illus. index. ISBN 9781611170870. $39.95; pap. ISBN 9781611170887. $21.95. DANCE


Vas Dias, Rosalynde. Only Blue Body. Anhinga. Nov. 2012. c.74p. ISBN 9781934695296. pap. $17. POETRY

Youssef, Saadi.

Nostalgia, My Enemy. Graywolf. Nov. 2012. c.96p. tr. from Arabic by Sinan Antoon & Peter Money. ISBN 9781555976293. pap. $15. POETRY


Boyer, Steven D. & Christopher A. Hall. The Mystery of God: Theology for Knowing the Unknowable. Baker Academic: Baker Bk. House. Nov. 2012. c.272p. index. ISBN 9780801027734. pap. $19.99. REL

Dickerson, Matthew. A Hobbit Journey: Discovering the Enchantment of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Brazos. 2012. c.272p. bibliog. ISBN 9781587433009. pap. $16.99. REL

Tobin, Greg. The Good Pope: The Making of a Saint and the Remaking of the Church-The Story of John XXIII and Vatican II. HarperOne: HarperCollins. 2012. c.253p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062089434. $26.99. REL


Jones, Bill. The Ghost Runner: The Tragedy of the Man They Couldn’t Stop. Pegasus. 2012. c.352p. photogs. ISBN 9781605984131. $26.95. SPORTS