Arts & Humanities Reviews | October 1, 2013

redstar Ephron, Nora. The MOST of Nora Ephron. Knopf. Nov. 2013. 576p. ISBN 9780385350839. $35. LIT

A treasury of Ephron (1941–2012), this collection contains the writer’s best essays, from Crazy Salad to I Remember Nothing, her one-and-only novel, Heartburn, her legendary screenplay, When Harry Met Sally, a selection of her blog entries from the Huffington Post, and her never-before published play, Lucky Guy, about New York City’s tabloid journalism. Representing 40-plus years of work, this volume illustrates not only Ephron’s dynamic writing career as a journalist-turned-novelist-turned-filmmaker but also her incredible wit. Whether Ephron is writing about politics or purses, sexism or soufflé, her appeal is her intelligent, incisive sense of humor. This is also part of what makes her such an icon, not “for America’s women,” as editor Robert Gottlieb writes in his introduction, but for America. Women may idolize her—she is the major inspiration for funny girl Lena Dunham, creator of the HBO hit Girls—but through her writing and films, she has changed the actual timbre of American humor. VERDICT Although some valuable essays are missed (e.g., “Dealing with the, Uh, Problem” and “Rose Mary Woods: The Lady or the Tiger?”), Gottlieb manages to pack this almost 600-page anthology with Ephron’s most timeless pieces. Since we will never have enough of Nora Ephron, the most will have to do.—Meagan Lacy, Indiana Univ.–Purdue Univ. Indianapolis Libs.

Solomon, Deborah. American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell. Farrar. Nov. 2013. 512p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780374113094. $30. FINE ARTS

An America of hope and optimism; kindly folks united in the pursuit of the good. This was the fantasy image that Norman Rockwell (1894–1978) presented and one for which he was loved—and also dismissed—by many. His works provided an alternative vision to the tumultuous times of the first half of the 20th century, even if it never really existed beyond the covers of the Saturday Evening Post. Solomon (biographer of Jackson Pollock and Joseph Cornell) has studied the man behind the work, and the truth is far darker than one would expect. She portrays Rockwell as a small man who worshipped the robust athletic ideal, an insecure artist in spite of major acclaim, and a married man who had little real family life and who found consolation, later on, in psychoanalytic therapy. The happy-go-lucky freckled subjects in Rockwell’s art had no reality in his world of depression and obsessive cleanliness. The author combines her skills as an art historian with empathy for this rather sad man, examining the world of journalism and the competition between illustration and photography as the background for the life of Norman Rockwell. VERDICT An excellent overview of the period, with a touching portrayal of the man behind the images that cheered a nation.—Paula Frosch, Metropolitan Museum of Art Lib., New York

redstar Sutton, Tina. The Making of Markova: Diaghilev’s Baby Ballerina to Groundbreaking Icon. Pegasus. 2013. 688p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781605984568. $35. DANCE

Alicia Markova (née Lilian Alicia Marks, 1910–2004) was England’s first homegrown ballerina. Her career began when, as a young teen, she was asked to join the Ballets Russes. Markova danced professionally for half her life and was universally considered the greatest ballerina of her generation. Several biographies about her have been written throughout the 20th century, but journalist Sutton (Color Harmony Compendium: A Complete Color Reference for Designers of All Types) is the first to have had access to her archive of extraordinary materials, housed at Boston University’s Gotlieb Center. Although Sutton’s prose can be occasionally repetitive and less than elegant, she maintains a genuine fascination with all aspects of Markova’s life. Told chronologically, with a judicious blend of diary excerpts, letters, interviews, newspaper clippings, and straightforward narrative, this book is a compellingly readable history of Markova, her family—both biological and balletic—and her world of arts and culture. VERDICT Though several excellent ballet biographies and histories have been written over the past few years (including Sjeng Scheijen’s Diaghilev: A Life and Jennifer Homans’s Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet), this work stands out for its inclusiveness. As Sutton states, “Markova believed firmly in ballet for everyone, not just the elite.” That belief is a theme in this work, which will be appreciated by anyone who enjoys informative, entertaining biographies or mid-20th-century performing arts and culture.—­Martha Stone, Treadwell Lib., Boston

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The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue.
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Byzantine Things in the World. Menil. 2013. 189p. ed. by Glenn Peers. illus. index. ISBN 9780300191783. $45. FINE ARTS

Harris, Neil. Capital Culture: J. Carter Brown, the National Gallery of Art, and the Reinvention of the Museum Experience. Univ. of Chicago. Oct. 2013. 648p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9780226067704. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780226067841. FINE ARTS

Michael, Vincent. The Architecture of Barry Byrne: Taking the Prairie School to Europe. Univ. of Illinois. 2013. 226p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780252037535. $60. ARCH

Watson, Roger & Helen Rappaport. Capturing the Light: The Birth of Photography, a True Story of Genius and Rivalry. St. Martin’s. Nov. 2013. 304p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781250009708. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250038326. PHOTOG

redstar Wittstock, Laura Waterman (text) & Dick Bancroft (photos). We Are Still Here: A Photographic History of the American Indian Movement. Borealis. 2013. 224p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9780873518871. pap. $39.95. PHOTOG


Brombert, Victor. Musings on Mortality: From Tolstoy to Primo Levi. Univ. of Chicago. Oct. 2013. 208p. ISBN 9780226062358. $24; ebk. ISBN 9780226070933. LIT

Ford, Ford Madox. Memories of a Pre-Raphaelite Youth. Pallas Athene. 2013. 88p. ISBN 9781843680857. pap. $16.95. LIT

Homer. The Iliad. Oxford Univ. Oct. 2013. 576p. tr. from Greek by Barry B. Powell. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199326105. $29.95. LIT


Dixon, Wheeler Winston. Streaming: Movies, Media, and Instant Access. Univ. Pr. of Kentucky. 2013. 190p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780813142173. $69; pap. ISBN 9780813142197. $24.95. FILM

Ramsey, Guthrie P., Jr. The Amazing Bud Powell: Black Genius, Jazz History, and the Challenge of Bebop. Univ. of California. (Music of the African Diaspora). 2013. 252p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780520243910. $34.95. MUSIC

Spencer, Michael J. Hollywood of the Rockies: Colorado, the West, and America’s Film Pioneers. History Pr. 2013. 160p. illus. index. ISBN 9781609497439. pap. $19.99. FILM


Flescher, Andrew Michael. Moral Evil. Georgetown Univ. Dec. 2013. 270p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781626160101. pap. $32.95. PHIL


Laird, Nick. Go Giants. Norton. 2013. 70p. ISBN 9780393347449. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393347692. POETRY


Baden, Joel. The Historical David: The Real Life of an Invented Hero. HarperOne. Oct. 2013. 320p. notes. index. ISBN 9780062188311. $26.99. REL


Mullin, Willard. Willard Mullin’s Golden Age of Baseball: Drawings 1934–1972. Fantagraphics. 2013. 200p. illus. ISBN 9781606996393. $35. Sports