Xpress Reviews: Nonfiction | First Look at New Books, September 6, 2013

Week ending September 6, 2013

Before and After the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes. Smithsonian. 2013. 144p. ed. by David W. Penney. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781588344526. pap. $24.95. FINE ARTS
The Great Lakes provide a unique locale; there is no other place on earth that compares. There is a certain spirituality created with this combination of earth, water, and sky, all done up in broad strokes. These lakes are home to the Anishinaabe people, who take great inspiration from their surroundings and history. In the panorama of works presented in this book, we meet two important characters, Thunderbird and Underwater Panther, and we watch their development over time via their representation in works of art, from woven bags to Day-Glo paintings. We are also introduced to a variety of important Anishinaabe artists such as George Morrison, who inspired the title with his use of the Great Lakes horizon as a metaphor for the line between the known and the unknown, before and after the horizon. Or, Norval Morrisseau, whose work focuses on the transitional nature of things. Artists Christi Belcourt, Robert Houle, Daphne Odjig, and Blake Debassige introduce the reader to their cultural identity and remind us that”…sand and people change, but place remains the same.” [This book accompanies an exhibition of the same title that opened in August, 2013 and continues through June, 2014 at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York, NY.—Ed.]
Verdict A good book for armchair travelers and connoisseurs of the Great Lakes region, as well as seasoned scholars.—Nadine Dalton Speidel, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Parma, OH

Carroll, Abigail. Three Squares: The Invention of the American Meal. Basic: Perseus. Sept. 2013. 304p. illus. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780465025527. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780465040964. COOKING
Food historian Carroll’s first book is a comprehensive look at the formation of the American meal. Though the author was initially motivated by her interest in the concept of snacking, she soon realized that there are reasons for the way Americans eat that are continually evolving, where meals are defined by their relationship to one another. After laying the groundwork for eating habits in colonial America, she takes the reader, from dinner to breakfast, on a tour of mealtime history, finishing off with a discussion on snacks and a meditation on the future of the American meal. Readers will find a number of interesting facts here, such as a reference to an early 1900s attempt to centralize cooking through cooperative housekeeping clubs. The work is extensively referenced: nearly 60 pages are given to chapter notes and the select bibliography, while almost two dozen illustrations provide a visual interlude.
Verdict This absorbing, well-researched account of the development of American eating habits will appeal to readers seeking to satiate an appetite for culinary history. Recent and relevant titles include William Sitwell’s A History of Food in 100 Recipes and Bee Wilson’s Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat, while Laura Shapiro’s Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century and Margaret Visser’s Much Depends on Dinner: The Extraordinary History and Mythology, Allure and Obsessions, Perils and Taboos of an Ordinary Meal are noted by the author and worth seeking out.—Rosemarie Lewis, Georgetown Cty. Lib., SC

Cone, Mindy. Gourmet French Macarons: Over 75 Unique Flavors and Festive Shapes. Front Table: Cedar Fort. 2013. 272p. photos. index. w/cd. ISBN 9781462112197. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781462105472. COOKING
Debut author Cone presents a collection of recipes and variations for over 75 shapes and flavors of French macarons. With each recipe, Cone indicates the difficulty level and includes a full-page photograph. Sections include seasons and holidays, sports, animals, birthdays, and ideas for seasonal fillings. The book also contains tips and troubleshooting, an index, and a CD with templates. It should be noted, however, that French macarons are somewhat tricky to make owing to the difficulty of creating the right consistency for the shell, so it may take some practice for novices to find the right formula. These tasty desserts consist of few ingredients—almond flour, sugar, egg whites, and cream of tartar—that when combined may present unique challenges.
Verdict A pretty book, but not for the beginning baker, as all ingredients are measured by grams and because working with egg whites takes practice. However, this title will be a hit among those willing to take a stab at creating these expensive-to-buy gems that are currently all the rage.—Jane Hebert, Glenside P.L. Dist., Glendale Heights, IL

Frank, Katherine. Plays Well in Groups: A Journey Through the World of Group Sex. Rowman & Littlefield. 2013. 406p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781442218680. $34; ebk. ISBN 9781442218703. PSYCH
Frank (scholar-in-residence, American Univ.; G-Strings and Sympathy) examines group sex from a sociological approach to discover “who has it, how they do it, and why.” Covering (what seems like) every possible subject related to the topic, Frank shares experiences that range from the Burning Man festival to the Playboy Mansion; discusses swinging, gay bathhouse orgies, bachelor parties, rock star groupies, and gang rape; and explores the realm of sex addiction, sperm competition, the mythology of orgies, cross-cultural practices, sexually transmitted diseases, urban myths of group sex, as well as contemporary codes and practices in today’s culture. The author’s research extends to ethnographic observations, interviews with professionals, primary sources, and individual stories to weave together contrasting opinions and observations with acumen and fairness.
Verdict Frank’s comprehensive study deftly addresses the controversial subject of group sex and its many components, contributing to our overall understanding of human behavior. Highly recommended for those interested in human sexuality, behavior, and culture.—Scott Vieira, Sam Houston State Univ. Lib., Huntsville, TX

The Global Contemporary and the Rise of New Art Worlds. MIT. 2013. 464p. ed. by Hans Belting & others. illus. index. ISBN 9780262518345. pap. $50. FINE ARTS
This is a successful hybrid of a catalog and museum exhibition in book form, initiated by curator and theoretician Peter Weibel (chairman, CEO, Center for Art and Media (ZKM), Karlsruhe, Germany), curator Andrea Buddensieg (project manager, ZKM’s GAM [Global Art and the Museum]), and art historian Hans Belting (cofounder, Karlsruhe Univ. for Arts and Design) after the exhibition The Global Contemporary. Art Worlds After 1989 (held at ZKM). A tome, this work represents an ongoing project to document and critically articulate the highly contested boundaries of today’s contemporary art world (spanning the last 20 years), which has been subject to an expansive globalization. Color-coded sections offer cleanly designed pages that are populated with visual data ranging from word clouds to graphs and charts. The pages themselves mimic exhibition wall labels. Lavishly illustrated, the book details major developments ranging from the expansion of art centers and emerging markets worldwide (e.g., Asia and the Middle East and Gulf States), the abundance of biennials, exhibition practices, and new types of art spaces. Terms and conditions of the new art world are introduced in magazine-like layouts. The abundant essays examine issues ranging from curating after globalization, questions of interculturality and mistranslation across borders, and the existence of multiple modernities outside the limits of the Western canon.
Verdict Diverse perspectives and complex ideas and theories are presented in ways that won’t prove impenetrable for those without specialized art knowledge and will appeal to readers with a keen interest in contemporary art and culture. This book is essential for any art library collection.—Toro Castaño, Roski Sch. of Fine Arts, Univ. of Southern California, Los Angeles

starred review starHoule, David. Entering the Shift Age: The End of the Information Age and the New Era of Transformation. Sourcebooks. 2013. 304p. notes. ISBN 9781402272172. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781402272189. BUS
Renowned futurist, strategist, and professional blogger Houle (www.evolutionshift.com; Shift Ed: A Call to Action for Transforming K-12 Education) outlines in his new book an alternative reality that he identifies as the Shift Age and the major forces that he believes are responsible for transforming the planet and diminishing established thought patterns that have developed over the past 200 years. Identifying trends such as remote workplaces, the cloud, “24/7” culture, and speed-of-light connectivity, Houle forecasts how our lives, businesses, and leadership will change within the contexts of a Shift Age. Pertinent to students are the author’s proposed applications to existing business models and communication modes.
Verdict Houle’s big-picture look at and interpretation of the Shift Age speaks to the topics of coming generations, technology, energy use, health care, education, intellectual property, and more, giving readers a transforming view of the future. Highly Recommended.—Jane Scott, George Fox Univ. Lib., Newberg, OR

Annalisa Pesek About Annalisa Pesek

Annalisa Pesek (apesek@mediasourceinc.com) is Assistant Managing Editor, LJ Book Review
[photograph by John Sarsgard]