Thumbs up for Flaneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London by Lauren Elkin. Sociology/Memoir.
A mishmash that works surprisingly well together: the history of women who walk in cities (flaneuses, to match the male term flaneurs); biography of some female writers like Jean Rhys, George Sand, and Martha Gellhorn; academic discussions on the social meaning of the suburb; the history of Paris; the plot of an art film; fragments of memoir from the author, which serve to keep it from being too academic.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel. Memoir, biography, graphic novel.
Any memoir that can keep me obsessively turning pages has got to be pretty amazing. The rumors are true: Alison Bechdel’s half-memoir, half-biography about how her father’s repressed homosexuality and her own more open lesbianism inform each other over the course of a lifetime is beautifully structured, wonderfully illustrated, and pleasingly literary.… >> Read more
Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song by Frank M. Young, illustrated by David Lasky. Biography/music.
I met the illustrator at a dinner party. I adore his work. In fact, I have some on my wall. However, unless you are truly interested in the Carter Family (which you might be, who knows, but I am not) you can probably skip this.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Ascending Peculiarity: Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey, edited by Karen Wilkin. Biography.
Sort of marginally biography; nothing much ever happened in Edward Gorey’s life. This book is a compilation of interviews with Gorey from many sources, so some of the information is duplicated, but as a whole it paints a picture of a fascinating, eccentric, and lovable man.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton. Photography.
My coworker and I spent most of a day looking at this when we were supposed to be working. It’s that kind of book. You should go look at his magnificent blog, which will give you faith in humanity.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture by David Kushner. Biography.
I should preface this review by saying that I do not enjoy video or computer games. Despite significant exposure due to friends/boyfriend, I think my total pleasurable experience can be summed up by (in my youth) two days addicted to Civilization and (much later) sixteen levels of Portal, before I got pissed off at a puzzle and walked away forever.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Sandy’s Circus: A Story About Alexander Calder by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Boris Kulikov. Children’s.
I’ve seen books of Calder’s work before, but I did not know how he got his start, or that he actually invented the mobile. This is a fantastic book about his life and work, vividly illustrated.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon by Julie Phillips. Biography.
I don’t generally like to know too much about authors, in the same way that I can’t stand acknowledgements or prefaces: I’d rather not see behind the curtain, please; just tell me the damn story. But in reading the biography of Alice Sheldon I am safe from suffering disillusionment, as I am not really a fan of her (his) work in the first place.… >> Read more