Beethoven, Maeve Binchy, James Brown, plus Triathlon Training & Triumphant Musicals | Arts & Humanities Reviews

redstarHolland, Tom & Amy Goodson. Swim, Bike, Run—Eat: The Complete Guide to Fueling Your Triathlon. Fair Winds: Quarto. 2014. 192p. photos. index. ISBN 9781592336067. pap. $22.99. SPORTS

swimbikerun081814This book speaks to the importance of proper body fueling during a triathlon and covers four key components: an understanding of basic nutrition, fueling during training and during an actual race, and well-planned recipes. Holland and Goodson (an exercise physiologist and sports dietitian, respectively) frame nutrition as the fourth discipline of the triathlon and delve into a discussion of the types of nutrients one can use—proteins, carbohydrates, and fats—and how often. Helpful tips are sprinkled throughout this nutritional section and interspersed in the rest of the volume. Sidebars debunk common myths and provide tidbits about common race fuels, such as the ever-popular Gatorade. The training and racing chapters feature the authors’ previous mishaps and offer concrete plans for triathletes to follow with respect to carrying fuel during a race, what to eat on race morning, fueling for various distances, and much more. VERDICT A great review of nutrition and fueling for both novice and experienced triathletes. The authors make a complicated subject accessible for anyone interested in training for a triathlon. Photos, colorful sidebars, and a handy index contribute to this being a must-have for triathletes of all ages and skill sets.—­Annette ­Haldeman, Dept. of Legislative Svcs., Maryland ­General ­Assembly, Annapolis

Isenberg, Barbara. Tradition! The Highly Improbable, Ultimately Triumphant Broadway-to-Hollywood Story of Fiddler on the Roof, the World’s Most Beloved Musical. St. Martin’s. Sept. 2014. 256p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780312591427. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466862524. THEATER

tradition081814The seemingly hyperbolic subtitle of award-winning journalist and theater author ­Isenberg’s tribute to Fiddler on the Roof, “the world’s most beloved musical,” is entirely justified. Interviews with the principal creators, actors, and allied personnel juxtaposed with detailed number-crunching statistics and balance-sheet information and a breezily deft narrative explicate the inherent charm and soul of Fiddler. The author has created a most endearing valentine to honor the production on its upcoming 50th anniversary (the show opened on Broadway’s Imperial Theatre September 22, 1964). Divided into four parts, the book traces the genesis of the musical, focusing on the creative team of composer Jerry Bock, lyricist Sheldon Harnick, and librettist Joseph Stein, along with producer Harold Prince, director/choreographer Jerome Robbins, and, of course, Sholom Aleichem, the author of the tales on which Tevye and the Russian shtetl of Anatevka are based. Subsequent sections discuss the show’s historic Broadway run, the Norman Jewison film (1971), and the global phenomenon of Fiddler’s longevity. VERDICT A deliciously rich and detailed story of an American musical-theater jewel. The snarky Zero Mostel anecdotes alone are worth the price of admission. An obligatory purchase for every musical theater collection.—Barry X. Miller, Austin P.L., TX

redstarSwafford, Jan. Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph. Houghton Harcourt. Aug. 2014. 1088p. notes. index. ISBN 9780618054749. $40; ebk. ISBN 9780544245587. MUSIC

beethoven081814Swafford (Charles Ives: A Life with Music) has produced a monumental biography of the most iconic composer in the Western classical tradition. Written in an engaging and entertaining style, the book includes much illuminating context, such as the effect on Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) of late 18th-century Aufklärung (Enlightenment). The identity of the “immortal beloved,” the often difficult interactions with patrons and friends, and the fraught relationships with nephew Karl and his mother Johanna are presented in an evenhanded manner; the author is neither in awe of a romanticized “Beethoven myth” nor overly revisionist. The book includes music analysis and examples, devoting more than 25 pages to Missa solemnis (solemn mass). The nearly 100 pages of notes include much detailed discussion of Beethoven’s life and music that add greatly to the work’s quality. While there is no dearth of titles on Beethoven (such as Maynard Solomon’s well-known Beethoven), Swafford’s volume promises to become a standard biography on the composer, taking its place beside Alexander Wheelock Thayer’s classic Life of Beethoven. VERDICT Beethoven aficionados and lovers of classical music will want this book, as will readers interested in biography and the artistic milieu of late 18th- and early 19th-century Europe.—Bruce R. ­Schueneman, Texas A&M Univ. Lib., Kingsville

Life in the spotlight

Brown, Yamma with Robin Gaby Fisher. Cold Sweat: My Father James Brown and Me. Chicago Review. Sept. 2014. 208p. index. ISBN 9781883052850. $24.95. MUSIC

The oft-used and clichéd phrase “living in the shadows” takes on a different meaning in this offering, in which Brown details her contradictory and complex relationship with her father, James Brown (1933–2006). The Godfather of Soul’s heavily documented successes, drug addictions, and abusive marriages frame the author’s own abusive marriage to a businessman of questionable background. This memoir serves as a case study of the effects of parental relationships on mate selection as well as a discussion of the impact of fame (and its downside) on the offspring of celebrities. Matters that would be private among family members are played out center stage (e.g., domestic violence, contested wills, funeral arrangements, etc.), with each family member a character in a drama fueled by a combustible mix of emotions and paparazzi attention. Each chapter is framed by relevant quotes from well-known authors, philosophers, and others, which adds poignancy to the story. Readers will share the grief, disappointment, and successes of both James and Yamma Brown while wishing for a “happily ever after.” Although this book is less about “the Hardest Working Man in Showbiz” and more about the “making of Dr. Yamma Brown,” the daughter’s perspective provides insight into the father. ­VERDICT Recommended for readers interested in autobiographical accounts of the offspring of celebrities.—Tamela Chambers, ­Chicago Pub. Schs.

James, Rick with David Ritz. Glow: The Autobiography of Rick James. Atria. 2014. 352p. discog. ISBN 9781476764146. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781476764160. MUSIC

glow081814Musician and producer James (1948–2004) described his 1981 LP Street Songs as “a concept album that mirrored my life. The subjects were sex, drugs, fame, frustration, police brutality, passion, and determination.” All of that and more is contained in this autobiography, written with and completed by the prolific music biographer Ritz (Faith in Time; Rage to Survive). Street Songs included James’s biggest hit, “Super Freak,” and the artist followed this up with super success and super excess along with the almost requisite rock-star personal and legal troubles. This book chronicles James’s early days as a hippie playing with the likes of Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and Stephen Stills; his time working at Motown (his uncle was a singer with the musical group the Temptations); his experiences touring with Prince and recording with Stevie Wonder; and much more. It was quite a journey and James lived it at a breathtaking pace. ­VERDICT As told by the King of Punk Funk, this auto­biography reads as fast as the life he lived, ending far too soon. This is a very sound portrait of James’s musical scene.—Bill Baars, Lake ­Oswego P.L., OR

Maeve binchy

Binchy, Maeve. Maeve’s Times: In Her Own Words. Knopf. Oct. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9780385353458. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385353465. LIT

maevebinchy081814As any reader of Binchy’s novels (Tara Road; Chestnut Street) knows, the beloved—and successful—Irish writer could tell a story. She was doing that long before she ever wrote a novel; Binchy’s letters home to her family from when she traveled abroad as a young teacher were so engaging, her husband explains in the book’s foreword, that her father submitted them to the Irish Times, and they were published. This began a 50-year association with the newspaper, with Binchy contributing columns even after finding fame with her books. This warm, down-to-earth collection of her contributions is a best-of that is arranged chronologically in sections covering from the 1960s through the 2000s, and it works wonderfully. Fans of the author’s novels will enjoy learning more about her early life and about an earlier Ireland. Very delightful is Binchy’s familiar tendency to explore things that are not regularly discussed—mostly not because they are unmentionable, but because they’re so ordinary that they’re overlooked. In one piece, for example, she expresses relief that tights have been invented, while another investigates the various reasons why people hate the month of February. There are gentle laughs aplenty, which will be no surprise to fans. What may be a revelation is that the author also tackled some controversial and upsetting subjects. One column, for example, discusses the hard life faced by Irish people who must work in England, and another describes the journey undertaken by a young woman who is surprised at the humanity she finds when she travels to that country to have the abortion she can’t get at home. VERDICT Fans of Binchy, as well as readers curious about Irish life over the years will savor this often-light read (but should be ready with the hanky at times).—Henrietta Verma, Library Journal

Dudgeon, Piers. Maeve Binchy: The Biography. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. 2014. 352p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9781250047144. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466847507. LIT

In this first full-length biography of the novelist published since her death, Dudgeon (Neverland) reveals how the circumstances of Binchy’s life (1940–2012) and the times in which she lived provided subject matter and themes for her works. Beginning with Binchy’s happy Catholic childhood in Ireland, Dudgeon traces her development through loss of faith and espousal of existentialism to her happy marriage to writer Gordon Snell. Hired by the Irish Times in 1968, Binchy was assigned to work in London. She simultaneously wrote fiction, publishing her first novel, Light a Penny Candle, in 1982, going on to become an international best-selling author with 16 more novels and several short story collections. Dudgeon asserts that Binchy wrote in the tradition of the Irish seanachaí, a narrator of tales based on everyday events, and shows that her themes include female solidarity based on Ireland’s strong matriarchal culture and women’s need to develop their potential and take charge of their lives. Appendixes include texts from Irish history and a time line of Binchy’s family past intertwined with events in Ireland. VERDICT Highly recommended for Binchy’s admirers interested in learning about the woman behind the works. [See Prepub Alert, 1/26/14.]—­Denise J. ­Stankovics, Vernon, CT

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Fine Arts

Bradbury, Dominic (text) & Richard Powers (photos). New Brazilian House. Thames & Hudson. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9780500517338. $40. ARCH

Callahan, Maureen. Champagne Supernovas: Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, and the 90s Renegades Who Remade Fashion. Touchstone. Sept. 2014. 304p. notes. ISBN 9781451640533. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781451640595. DEC ARTS

Dillenberger, Jane Daggett & John Handley. The Religious Art of Pablo Picasso. Univ. of California. 2014. 128p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780520276291. $39.95. FINE ARTS

Fitzgerald, Isaac (text) & Wendy MacNaughton (illus.) Pen & Ink: Tattoos & the Stories Behind Them. Bloomsbury USA. Oct. 2014. 144p. ISBN 9781620404904. $25. DEC ARTS


Bauer, Margaret D. A Study of Scarletts: Scarlett O’Hara and Her Literary Daughters. Univ. of South Carolina. 2014. 184p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781611173734. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781611173741. LIT

Colavito, Jason. Jason and the Argonauts Through the Ages. McFarland. 2014. 336p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780786479726. pap. $45; ebk. ISBN 9781476615660. LIT

Drayton, Joanne. The Search for Anne Perry: The Hidden Life of a Bestselling Crime Writer. Arcade: Skyhorse. 2014. 376p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781628723243. $25.95. LIT

Schreiber, Daniel. Susan Sontag: A Biography. Northwestern Univ. Aug. 2014. 280p. tr. from German by David Dollenmayer. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780810125834. $35. LIT

Sevilla, Charles M. (text) & Lee Lorenz (illus.). Law and Disorder: Absurdly Funny Moments from the Courts. Norton. Aug. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9780393349535. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393349542. HUMOR

Performing Arts

Fink, Jesse. The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC. St. Martin’s. Aug. 2014. 320p. discog. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781250053831. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466865204. MUSIC

Jones, Bill T. Story/Time: The Life of an Idea. Princeton Univ. Sept. 2014. 108p. illus. ISBN 9780691162706. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781400851881. DANCE

Leonard, Candy. Beatleness: How the Beatles and Their Fans Remade the World. Arcade: Skyhorse. Sept. 2014. 312p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781628724172. $24.95. MUSIC

Thomas, Mike. You Might Remember Me: The Life and Times of Phil Hartman. St. Martin’s. Sept. 2014. 336p. photos. bibliog. ISBN 9781250027962. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250027979. TV


Jane, Emma A. & Chris Fleming. Modern Conspiracy: The Importance of Being Paranoid. Bloomsbury. Aug. 2014. 160p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781623566814. $80; pap. ISBN 9781623560911. $24.95. PHIL

Nilsson, Nils J. Understanding Beliefs. MIT. (Essential Knowledge). Aug. 2014. 168p. illus. notes. ISBN 9780262526432. pap. $12.95. PHIL


Hahn, Kimiko. Brain Fever. Norton. Oct. 2014. 176p. ISBN 9780393243352. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393243369. POETRY

Oliver, Mary. Blue Horses. Penguin Pr. Oct. 2014. 79p. ISBN 9781594204791. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698170049. POETRY

Esther, Elizabeth. Girl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future. Convergent. 2014. 224p. ISBN 9780307731876. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9780307731883. REL

Litfin, Bryan M. Early Christian Martyr Stories: An Evangelical Introduction with New Translations. Baker Academic. Oct. 2014. 208p. notes. ISBN 9780801049583. pap. $19.99. REL

Rinzler, Lodro. The Buddha Walks into the Office: A Guide to Livelihood for a New Generation. Shambhala. Sept. 2014. 192p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781611800616. pap. $14.95. REL

Root, Andrew. Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker: A Theological Vision for Discipleship and Life Together. Baker Academic. Oct. 2014. 224p. ISBN 9780801049057. pap. $19.99. REL

Sports & Recreation

Gentile, Charlie. The 1928 New York Yankees: The Return of Murderers’ Row. Rowman & Littlefield. 2014. 336p. bibliog. ISBN 9781442235984. $45; ebk. ISBN 9781442235991. SPORTS

Washburn, Dan. The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream. One World. 2014. 336p. index. ISBN 9781851689484. pap. $18.99; ebk. ISBN 9781780741055. SPORTS

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