Tag: nonfiction

A review of Kitchens and Gadgets 1920 to 1950 by Jane H. Celehar

I have collected Depression Era kitchen glassware along with gadgets, gizmos and thingamajigs for many years. Some I noticed in use in the kitchens of my grandmother and aging aunts. Others I have discovered at garage sales, in jumble shops, and estate sales. Some of the pieces I own are suspended from ceiling hooks, or rest on the walls in my kitchen and breakfast nook, and, some are in use when I slice a tomato or open a can. This particular paperback is my own and has proven itself vital over the many years I have scanned its pages searching for yet another captivating doohickey whose name and function may be as yet unfamiliar to me.

On Gertrude Stein, and Tragedy and Transcendence in Stein: Writings 1903-1932

In reading some of the description of Gertrude Stein’s life, and how she came to be an art patron—a friend to artists, an owner of their work, a facilitator of relationships—I was impressed by how intimate and simple were the lives of now famous artists, how vivid the memory. One artist spreads news of the work of another artist, Pissarro talking with others about Cezanne; or one gallerist, Vollard, introducing Cezanne, Daumier, Manet, Renoirs, and Gauguin to those who might appreciate them.

A review of More Generals in Gray by Bruce S. Allardice

Not only does Allardice bring to the fore the lives of these men, but, he clarifies the procedure for achieving rank during the period including that the procedure of becoming a general was often filled with prompting carried out by the man himself, or his friends, or men with whom he served, and the like; as well as unassuming coincidence of time and place with need leading to the ranking General brevetting to brigadier as well as maneuvering, politics, simple chance, or his service in state militia with accomplishment of rank there and carry over to Confederate records, politics, and even mismanagement.

Some of the Art Notes of A Solitary Walker: On Richard Powell’s Black Art and Culture in the 20th Century and Other Great Artists

I think that when I first began to visit galleries and museums regularly, I would spend as much time reading as looking at the art: the art descriptions, whether in sheets of descriptions and lists or wall labels, were read for whatever information or insight they might give. I could spend three hours or more at a museum, seeing each thing, reading about each thing, and leave exhausted, my eyes red, my legs stiff. It took time—maybe years—for me to begin to relax, and just look at the art, allowing what was interesting to hold my attention, and what was not as something I could pass quickly and guiltlessly.

A review of How Music Works by David Byrne

How Music Works is a little bit of a sprawling mishmash. The title is open enough, and Byrne takes advantage of that to meander along whatever paths take his fancy, from generalised notion of artistry to physics and the music of the cosmos, to his own personal experiences as a performer, songwriter and musician.  Though the book is all over the place, it’s always erudite and enjoyable, and always pivoting on the notion of creative expression, whether it’s Byrne’s particular brand of expression or whether it’s more philosophical reflections about the universe, other artists, and music in its many forms.

A review of Fritz Kahn by Uta and Thilo von Debschitz

Fritz Kahn was a popular science writer who was most prolific in the ‘20s and ‘30s.  His masterwork was Das Leben des Menschen, a five volume study of human biology which appeared between 1922 and 1931.  As with all his works – and Kahn continued to write about many different fields of science right up until the early 1960s – these volumes were heavily illustrated. 

A review of Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova

To explain the art of thinking, Konnikova uses the metaphor of the mind as an attic in which memories are filed away. The metaphor works well. The reader will readily understand that attics contain important and less important memories and that some places in the attic are more accessible than others. There is also the problem of remembering where one has placed certain items — memory retrieval. But there is much more to learning how to think than how one deals with memories.

A revew of The Book of Common Prayer: A Biography by Alan Jacobs.

But it was always an embattled book, representing at various times, “too much Catholicism,” “too much Protestantism,” too much tradition, too much irreverence toward tradition, too limited in its reach or too inclusive as to be almost wimpy and unclear, an example of the poetic beauty of the English language, or too old-fashioned, incomprehensible, and quaint in its language. It was a thing that symbolized something to be rebelled against or something to be upheld.

A review of The Book of Job: A Biography

Larrimore goes on to show how mistranslations, lack of knowledge of Hebrew, lost or wrongly-placed passages, the translator’s choice of words, emotional state, ethical temperaent, misconceptions about the idea of “patience,” the interpreter’s acquaintance (or lack thereof) with grief and suffering, and a saccharine idea of Job have affected the book’s history.

A review of Inspiring IVF Stories: 24 Men And Women With Strength, Commitment And A Dream edited by Carolyn Martinez

The stories are honest and open, going into a great deal of detail about exactly what the couples had been through – both in terms of their own experience, and in terms of each other. The stories are well-balanced and broad, exploring a wide range of stories from younger couples to older ones, a single parent, parents who struggle with the finances, parents who found IVF reasonably straightforward, and those who continue to struggle with unsatisfying outcomes.