Arts & Humanities Reviews | December 2013

meadredstarMead, Rebecca. My Life in Middlemarch. Crown. Jan. 2014. 304p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780307984760. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780307984784. LIT

Part literary criticism, part biography, and part memoir, this extremely creative book charts the many ways in which George Eliot’s Middlemarch has shaped the life of Mead (One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding), who came across the novel for the first time when she was a teenager studying for her university entrance examinations during the 1980s. Like Eliot’s Dorothea, Mead yearned to escape her provincial surroundings in the southwest of England for the more sophisticated, intellectually satisfying life of the city. The first in her family to attend college, Mead went on to Oxford, studied journalism, and eventually became a staff writer for The New Yorker. Throughout these experiences, Middlemarch remained a constant fixture in her life. Mead returned to the novel again and again, realizing new insights and nuances as she grew and matured. Through this literary journey, she discovers that provincialism is not only a matter of geography but also a state of mind. More memoirist than literary critic, Mead demonstrates through her own story how literature can change and transform lives. For this reason, even the reader who has never heard of George Eliot will find Mead’s crisp, exacting prose absorbing and thought-provoking. VERDICT Essential for any literature collection.—Meagan Lacy, ­Indiana Univ.–Purdue Univ. Indianapolis Libs.

redstarBailey, Jason. Pulp Fiction: The Complete Story of Quentin Tarantino’s Masterpiece. Voyageur. 2013. 200p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780760344798. $35. FILM

Who would’ve thought a book could outdo any DVD or interactive video assemblage on a film or filmmaker? Bailey (film editor, Flavorwire) not only culls the complete story of Quentin Tarantino’s most influential work (arguably his masterpiece) but does so with visual panache and verbal wit and style using Tarantino techniques such as nonlinear structure, cutaways, and enlightening reveals. The book provides an immersive treasure trove of illusory and original photos, posters, maps, and infographics, thereby making local and linear the film’s nonchronological order. There are album covers, product labels, pulp film posters, and book jackets, not to mention guest essays (on music, pulp novels, the F-word, and blaxploitation). Even those who are not fans of Tarantino must acknowledge that cinema has never been the same since Pulp Fiction, with its eccentric characters, deadpan violence, Rashomon-like revisitations of scene and perspective, metamovie commentary, and small-talk dialog—and Bailey eruditely reveals why. In the same manner as Q.T., he makes us more cinematically aware and intelligent viewers in the process. VERDICT Recommended for students, cinephiles, geeks, fans, and marketing reps/graphic designers (for the great designs and effective visual narrative devices used).—­Benjamin ­Malczewski, ­Toledo–Lucas Cty. P.L.

Dawidoff, Nicholas. Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football. Little, Brown. 2013. 496p. index. ISBN 9780316196796. $29; ebk. ISBN 9780316254991. SPORTS

Over the past few years, the New York Jets under blustery coach Rex Ryan have been an overexposed media magnet that repels many fans. Yet Dawidoff’s (The Fly Swatter) immersion into the world of football presents a nuanced, thorough account of the team’s disappointing 2011 season that demands to be read. His book, which originated as an article in the New York Times Magazine, where he is a contributing writer, is more about the management of an NFL team than about on-the-field heroics. ­Dawidoff details the exacting, overworked life of the coaches in their pressurized bubble, drawing incisive, compelling profiles of Ryan, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, and several other assistant coaches, as well as general manager Mike Tannenbaum. Jets players are mostly ancillary here, although the sad sagas of struggling quarterback Mark Sanchez, frustrated wideout Santonio Holmes, and unstable cornerback Antonio Cromartie are a continuing burden for the coaches. The author contends that past family dysfunction in players’ lives has significantly molded the strong and often difficult personalities of many of these young athletes. VERDICT This quality piece of embedded analytical journalism relayed with warmth and insight will be enjoyed by football fans.—John ­Maxymuk, Rutgers Univ. Lib., Camden, NJ

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The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue.
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Fine Arts

Byrd, Antawan I. & others. Art Cities of the Future: 21st Century Avant-Gardes. Phaidon. 2013. 336p. illus. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9780714865362. $79.95. FINE ARTS

de Botton, Alain & John Armstrong. Art as Therapy. Phaidon. 2013. 239p. illus. index. ISBN 9780714865911. $39.95. FINE ARTS

Eva Zeisel: Life, Design, and Beauty. Chronicle. 2013. 256p. ed. by Pat Kirkham & others. photos by Brent C. Brolin. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781452108520. $50. FINE ARTS

redstarGallery 1988. Crazy 4 Cult: Cult Movie Art 2. Titan. 2013. 176p. illus. ISBN 9781781167519. $34.95. FINE ARTS

redstarHaskell, Barbara. Robert Indiana: Beyond Love. Whitney Museum. 2013. 286p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300196863. $60. FINE ARTS

Hunstein, Don (photos) & Jon Pareles (text). Keeping Time: The Photographs of Don Hunstein. Insight Editions. 2013. 224p. ed. by Leo Sacks. photos. notes. ISBN 9781608872244. $60. PHOTOG

McGillick, Paul (text) & Masano Kawana (photos). The Sustainable Asian House: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines. Tuttle. 2013. 208p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9780804843331. $39.95. ARCH

Myers, Tadd. Portraits of the American Craftsman. Lyons. 2013. 256p. illus. index. ISBN 9780762790036. $29.95. PHOTOG

Partridge, Elizabeth. Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning. Chronicle. 2013. 192p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781452122168. $50. PHOTOG

Phaidon Eds. Art & Place: Site-Specific Art of the Americas. Phaidon. 2013. 376p. photos. index. ISBN 9780714865515. $79.95. FINE ARTS

Sommer, Doris. The Work of Art in the World: Civic Agency and Public Humanities. Duke Univ. Jan. 2014. 240p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780822355724. $79.95; pap. ISBN 9780822355861. $22.95. FINE ARTS


Batchelor, Bob. Gatsby: The Cultural History of the Great American Novel. Scarecrow. 2013. 272p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780810891951. $45; ebk. ISBN 9780810891968. LIT

Damrosch, Leo. Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World. Yale Univ. 2013. 568p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300164992. $35. LIT

Dickinson, Emily. The Gorgeous Nothings. New Directions. 2013. 272p. ed. by Marta Werner & Jan Bervin. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780811221757. $39.95. LIT

redstarShteyngart, Gary. Little Failure: A Memoir. Random. Jan. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780679643753. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780812995336. LIT

Performing Arts

Bean, Kendra. Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait. Running Pr. 2013. 272p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780762450992. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780762451036. FILM

The Beatles Are Here! 50 Years After the Band Arrived in America, Writers, Musicians & Other Fans Remember. Algonquin. Feb. 2014. 288p. ed. by Penelope Rowlands. ISBN 9781616203504. pap. $15.95. MUSIC

Danois, Ericka Blount. Love, Peace, and Soul: Behind the Scenes of America’s Favorite Dance Show Soul Train; Classic Moments. Backbeat. 2013. 243p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781480341012. pap. $24.99. TV

redstarEliot, Marc. Nicholson: A Biography. Crown Archetype. 2013. 400p. filmog. notes. ISBN 9780307888372. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780307888396. FILM

Jovanovic, Rob. God Save the Kinks: A Biography. Aurum. 2013. 336p. photos. discog. notes. index. ISBN 9781845136710. $29.95; pap. ISBN 9781781311646. $14.95. MUSIC

Kopytova, Galina. Jascha Heifetz: Early Years in Russia. Indiana Univ. 2013. 464p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. tr. from Russian by Dario & Alexandra Sarlo. ISBN 9780253010766. $45; ebk. ISBN 9780253010896. MUSIC

Malham, Joseph M. John Ford: Poet in the Desert. Lake Street. 2013. 344p. photos. bibliog. ISBN 9781936181087. $21.95. FILM

Vieira, Mark A. George Hurrell’s Hollywood: Glamour Portraits 1925–1992. Running Pr. 2013. 416p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780762450398. $60. PHOTOG


Watkin, William. Agamben and Indifference: A Critical Overview. Rowman & Littlefield. 2013. 320p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781783480074. $110; pap. ISBN 9781783480081. $34.95; ebk. ISBN 9781783480098. PHIL


Dower, Kim. Slice of Moon. Red Hen. 2013. 104p. ISBN 9781597099714. pap. $18.95. POETRY

James, Clive. Nefertiti in the Flak Tower. Liveright: Norton. 2013. 96p. ISBN 9780871407115. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780871407290. POETRY

Spirituality & Religion

Gilbreath, Edward. Birmingham Revolution: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Epic Challenge to the Church. InterVarsity. Dec. 2013. 220p. notes. ISBN 9780830837694. pap. $16; ebk.ISBN 9780830884452. REL

Miller, Susan Katz. Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family. Beacon. 2013. 264p. index. ISBN 9780807013199. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780807013205. REL

Reese, Abbie. Dedicated to God: An Oral History of Cloistered Nuns. Oxford Univ. (Oral History). Dec. 2013. 256p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9780199947935. $34.95. REL

Rooney, Francis. The Global Vatican: An Inside Look at the Catholic Church, World Politics, and the Extraordinary Relationship Between the United States and the Holy See. Rowman & Littlefield. 2013. 316p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781442223615. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781442223622. REL

Stearns, Richard & Reneé Stearns (text) & Jon Warren (photos). He Walks Among Us: Encounters with Christ in a Broken World. Thomas Nelson. 2013. 288p. photos. ISBN 9781400321865. $19.99. REL

Sports & Recreation

Jarvis, Tim. Chasing Shackleton: Re-Creating the World’s Greatest Journey of Survival. Morrow. Jan. 2014. 272p. illus. maps. ISBN 9780062282736. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780062282743. RECREATION