She goes on to explain that after trying to write real reviews of these books she gave up, that she wanted to remain a reader, an amateur So you should have the idea of what my approach to Book Digest is about.
If I took Syzmbrowska’s words as a mandate, perhaps I would be paying more attention to the recent large and detailed biography of Peanuts creator Charles Schultz or the autobiography of golden-aged guitar wizard Eric Clapton (and also hisand George Harrison’sex-wife Pattie Boyd’s memoir). Thankfully the book review establishment has risen to the challenge and lavished attention on them. Thus I can spend more time with the likes of what follows
Cheating at Canasta: Stories by William TrevorMuch-loved short-form fiction writer Trevor (A Bit on the Side, After Rain) offers another collection of his narrative gems. Like Alice Munro, he rarely missteps or falls short with his admirably precise understanding of human beings and their foibles and relationships. If this master of prose has eluded your gaze, correct that lapse ASAP. I mean it.
Frankenstein: A Cultural History by Susan Tyler HitchcockThe fascination with horror, monsters, and all manner of imaginary (and other) depravity has always escaped me. So, ordinarily, a book about the preeminent monster in literature would not be of interest. However, Hitchcock’s eclectic approach to illuminating the history of Mary Shelley’s creation is a more promising subject than the original story.
» Read an excerpt from Frankenstein: A Cultural History
Notes From the Air: Selected Later Poems by John AshberyThis compilation was edited by the octogenarian poet, drawing from 10 of his collections, notably April Galleons, Flow Chart, and Where Shall I Wander. The prolific Ashberywho has won numerous awards, including every major prize for poetscontinues to churn out new work (four books in the last seven years), as he affirms his status as one of America’s important and powerful poetic voices:
These are amazing: each
Joining a neighbor, as though speech
Were a still performance.
Arranging by chance
To meet as far this morning
From the world as agreeing
With it, you and I
Are suddenly what the trees try
To tell us we are:
That their merely being there
Means something; that soon
We may touch, love, explain.
And glad not to have invented
Such comeliness, we are surrounded:
A silence already filled with noises,
A canvas on which emerges
A chorus of smiles, a winter morning.
Placed in a puzzling light, and moving,
Our days put on such reticence
These accents seem their own defense.
Anselm Kiefer by Germano CelantCelant, senior curator for contemporary art at the Guggenheim, has assembled an impressive monograph on one of contemporary art’s major figures. Well over 500 pages, this large and weighty tome contains about 300 remarkably well-reproduced images. There are also a number of interviews with Kiefer, spanning a good portion of his career. You should be forewarned that this is a pricey bookits value, otherwise, being relative.
» See images from Anselm Kiefer
Monuments: America’s History in Art and Memory by Judith DupreStarting with Allison Russo’s textured cover design, this book on American commemoratives is welcome documentation to architectural history archives, including the usual monuments to long-gone and newer battlesthe Alamo and Gettysburg to the Vietnam Memorial and the AIDS quilt. Architectural historian Dupre’s articulate overview and detailed analysis accompanies over 200 dutones, as well as a useful chronology of interviews with those involved in creating various of the included monuments.
» See images from Monuments
In for a Pound by Richard MarinickMarinick’s debut thriller Boyos garnered well-earned kudosand readersand this book makes good on the old saw write what you know. Returning to the turf he knows so well, the South Boston native and former state trooper gives us former trooper Delray McCauley, who’s scraping by as a bartender after doing time for a bum rap. A Boston police captain offers him a job recovering a safe stolen from a high-powered lawyer’s office; naturally, the job isn’t so simple, and the missing item is being sought by all manner of flora and faunaall of which is a spicy recipe for a noir delight.
Across the Tibetan Plateau: Ecosystems, Wildlife, and Conservation by Robert L. Fleming Jr., Dorje Tsering, and Liu WulinThe Tibetan Plateau is an amazing expanse of geography that encompasses the majestic Himalayas and the world’s deepest gorge; from tundra to tropical jungle, it is an area the size of Western Europe and shelters an amazing diversity of life. This lovely book is one of the first to bring this little-known place into view. It also documents a conservation effort that seems to have gone unnoticed by the rest of the world.
Chicago by Cynthia DavisBy manipulating Polaroid prints while they’re still developing, Davis creates images that fall somewhere between photorealism and impressionism. With five previous books on Michigan and the Great Lakes, her newest opus is her take on my old and beloved Windy City. In this slender volume she includes the Magnificent Mile, the Sears Tower, and Chicago’s multitudinous neighborhoods. Ultimately you probably need to be a homer to appreciate the imagesbut maybe you don’t.
» See images from Chicago
Borat Tourist Guidings to Minor Nation of U.S. and A by Borat SagdiyevMore fun from the wacky Kazakh Borat. Here’s the publisher’s description, which says it, um, better than I could:
Subsequents to worldwide successes of his blockbusterings moviefilm, Borat Sagdiyevteleviski journalist and 4th most famous person of Kazakhstanhave in associate with Ministry of Information produce this travel guidings journal to minor nation of U.S. and A. This book a most sensible acquisition if you are think of travel to this country and will instruct you on all you needing knowfrom how to get cage of your wife through airport, to how to gain entry to an American vagine without spend money. It also contain most explicit guidings to American peoplesdid you know that there are over 1,000 of them with chocolate colour skin? And that it natural, not makeups!?» See a travel slideshow from Borat Tourist Guidings to Minor Nation of U.S. and A