Papercrafting has just gotten more elegant, more exciting and much richer and more dignified with the stunning An Anthology of Decorated Papers (Thames & Hudson, $60). P.J.M. Marks, P. J. M. Marks, curator of bookbindings at the British Library, has pulled together a collection of gorgeously reproduced decorated papers, along with a thoughtful and carefully researched history of this often-overlooked art.
Rich in ornamentation, decorated papers have been in use for centuries—as wrappers and endpapers for books, as the backing for playing cards, and even as linings for chests and cases.
Yet despite the many contexts in which they can be found, they often go unnoticed. The remarkable new book An Anthology of Decorated Papers not only showcases several hundred of the best and most exquisite examples of decorated paper, but also provides a fascinating introduction to its history, traditions and techniques.
“Decorated papers have been produced worldwide for centuries,” Marks writes in the introduction to the book. From rudimentary paper in the Chinese court in 105 AD to block printing in China and Japan in the ninth and seventeenth centuries, respectively, to pre-industrial European decorated papers in Germany, France and Italy, to the impact of decorated papers, including Benjamin Franklin’s introduction of bank notes printed marbled paper to counter fraud, Marks examines the many paths and uses of decorated paper throughout history, including in art, bookbinding, and stationery.
Drawing on the Olga Hirsch collection at the British Library, one of the largest and most diverse collections of decorated papers in the world, this beautifully produced anthology will both delight and inspire designers, bibliophiles, and anyone with a love of pattern and decoration.
When fashion photographer and costume designer Cecil Beaton died in 1980, it was not surprising that one of his tailors was telephoned with the news before Buckingham Palace, despite Beaton’s close association with the Royal Family.
Yep, that’s how famous and informational he was. From the moment Cecil arrived at Cambridge University in 1922 wearing an evening jacket, red shoes, black-and-white trousers and a large cravat, to his appearance nearly 40 years later at Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball, Beaton expressed a flamboyant sartorial nonchalance. He had accounts with the best Savile Row tailors; he bought his shirts from Excello in New York; and his clothes from Lanz of Salzburg. Clothes hound par excellence. Those duds now reside, along with other elements of his wardrobe, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Benjamin Wild’s luscious A Life in Fashion: The Wardrobe of Cecil Beaton (Thames & Hudson, $50) is the first book to showcase the evolving wardrobe of the famed fashion photographer and designer, whose brilliant style is being celebrated as classic tailoring comes back in vogue.
A Life in Fashionis a lively and informative study of Beaton’s style, which kept evolving over the decades, driving and reflecting the transitions in men’s fashion that followed World War II. Drawing on unpublished records and interviews with Beaton’s former tailors, fashion historian Benjamin Wild delightfully scrutinizes Beaton’s approach to fashion as well as his influence on such designers as Giles Deacon and Dries van Noten. “I don’t want people to know me as I really am,” Beaton is quoted as saying, “but as I’m trying and pretending to be.”
In his Introduction to the book, Wild notes “if the style and sartorial savvy of Cecil Beaton are significant, they have hitherto been sidelined by writers focusing on his accomplishments as a photographer and costume designer…
While renewed interest in Beaton’s wardrobe is part of a more general contemporary appreciation of vintage styles, it is his personal engagement with fashion, and his critical understanding of it, that makes him a unique and enduring figure in the annals of style.”
Classics such as Cabaret, The Godfather, Taxi Driver and The Wild Bunch reigned over ’70s cinema. But there are riches found in the overlooked B-movies of the time . . . flicks that were rolled out wherever they might find an audience, perhaps tell an eye-opening story about post-Watergate, post-Vietnam America. Missed them? Catch up with Opening Wednesday at a Theater or Drive-In Near You: The Shadow Cinema of the American ’70s(Bloomsbury, $27), in which acclaimed film critic Charles Taylor revisits the films that don’t make the Academy Award montages and explores what these B-films embody of ’70s America.
Opening Wednesday unlocks a forgotten treasury, films that display the honest, almost pleasurable, pessimism of the era, with a staying power that stands in opposition to what Taylor calls the current “infantilization” in Hollywood. Taylor argues that movies today—beginning with the unprecedented success of Star Wars in 1977—have devolved to “spectacle and gimmicks,” with sequels and remakes and spinoffs as the bulk of mainstream moviemaking, while films from the 1970s portray a “connection to the world, and to real-life emotions.”
In the essays of Opening Wednesday, Taylor pays homage to the trucker vigilantes, meat magnate pimps, blaxploitation “angel avengers,” and taciturn factory workers of grungy, unartful films such as Prime Cut, Foxy Brown and Eyes of Laura Mars.
He creates a compelling argument for what matters in moviemaking and brings a pivotal American era vividly to life in all its gritty, melancholy complexity.
Warning! Do not read this book at night. Or in the dark. Or when you are home alone.
Michael Sims has edited Frankenstein Dreams: A Connoisseur’s Collection of Victorian Science Fiction(Bloomsbury, $22), a collection of chills and thrills that will be released in September. We are giving you advance warning.
Sims, whose elegant introduction provides valuable literary and historical context, has gathered many of the finest stories, some by classic writers such as Jules Verne, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley and H.G. Wells, but many that will surprise general readers. Dark visions of the human psyche emerge in Thomas Wentworth Higginson’s “The Monarch of Dreams,” while Mary E. Wilkins Freeman (below) a glimpse of “the fifth dimension” in her provocative tale “The Hall Bedroom.”
Perpetual human concerns meet modern anxieties in these tales that grapple with time, mortality, the senses and the unknown. The tales showcase the ways in which Victorian writers confronted the philosophical and spiritual repercussions of the new technologies and scientific revelations of the 19th century. The major themes of modern science fiction emerge: Space and time travel, dystopian societies, dangerously independent machines, all inspiring the speculative fiction of the Victorian era.
Allow us to steer you to the best chronicle of Chevrolet cars throughout two decades of speed and style. Park Mike Mueller’s The Complete Book of Classic Chevrolet Muscle Cars: 1955-1974(Motorbooks/Quarto Publishing Group, $40) in your essential library after you’ve taken it for a few fascinating laps o’ reading.
Chevrolet didn’t invent the overhead-valve pushrod V-8 engine, but without question Ed Cole and company perfected it. And General Motors’ Bowtie division wasn’t the first to put the engine design in a production car, but it was the first to put the engine design in an affordable production car and make it available to the average driver. No other automobile in history so clearly demarcates a before-and-after line in the sand like the 1955 Chevrolet. This was the birth of the affordable performance car, and from the moment the car hit the streets, the experience of driving would never be the same.
The impact that an affordable American sedan with a powerful performance engine had on American society was so great that it not only changed the experience of driving; it changed the psychology of a generation. Prior to the introduction of the 1955 Chevrolet with its V-8 engine, cars had been considered necessary appliances, like refrigerators or vacuum cleaners. With a single stroke, Chevrolet turned American culture into a car culture.
Chevrolet dominated the muscle-car scene throughout the classic era. The Impala SS, with its 409 engine popularized by the Beach Boys, ruled America’s drag strips. The Z16 Chevelle Malibu SS396 became the every man’s muscle car. The Camaro turned the pony car genre into genuine muscle cars. The LS6 engine was the most powerful of the classic era.
The book’s luscious 183 color and 37 black-and-white photos will have you revving the engine!
The impossible has happened . . . and we don’t mean why we continue to question why William Shatner is a “star.”
Last September marked the 50th anniversary of the debut of the world’s most successful science fiction television series: Star Trek. In The Impossible Has Happened: The Life and Work of Gene Roddenberry, the Creator of Star Trek (Aurum Press, $19.99), author Lance Parkin, goes in search of the show’s creator.
This book reveals how an undistinguished writer of cop shows set out to produce “Hornblower in space” and ended up with an optimistic, almost utopian view of humanity’s future that has been watched and loved by hundreds of millions of people around the world.
Along the way Parkin examines some of the great myths and turning points in the franchise’s history, and Roddenberry’s particular contribution to them. He will look at the truth in the view that the early Star Trek advanced a liberal, egalitarian and multi-racial agenda, chart the various attempts to resuscitate the show during its wilderness years in the ’70s, explore Roddenberry’s initial early involvement in the movies and spin-off Star Trek: The Next Generation (as well as his later estrangement from both), and shed light on the colorful personal life, self-mythologizing and strange beliefs of a man who nonetheless gifted popular culture one if its most enduring narratives.
Beach books to carry along? We suggest this quartet from W.W. Norton.
With the sweet yearning and raw truth of a Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris duet, Don Lee’s Lonesome Lies Before Us($26.95) resounds as a contemporary ballad of heartbreak, failure, and unquenchable longing. Yadin Park is a talented alt-country musician whose career has floundered—doomed first by his homely looks and lack of stage presence, and then by a progressive hearing disorder. His girlfriend, Jeanette Matsuda, might have been a professional photographer but for a devastating heartbreak in her teens. Now Yadin works for Jeanette’s father’s carpet-laying company in California while Jeanette cleans rooms at a local resort. They sing together in a Unitarian church choir and try to find comfort in their weekly routines, yet solace eludes them, their relationship remaining lukewarm despite their best intentions. When Yadin’s former lover and musical partner, the celebrated Mallory Wicks, comes back into his life, all their most private hopes and desires are exposed, their secret fantasies about love and success put to the test. Subtly and sublimely, all the characters’ paths begin to converge, and the results of these intersections will provoke readers to reconsider their own lost highways.
With an infectious passion for the period and an expert knowledge of the music, Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel tells the story of how progressive rock developed, evolved and endured over time—and why it still matters to music today. A wonderfully entertaining behind-the-scenes look at such hugely popular bands as Yes, Pink Floyd, Genesis and Jethro Tull, The Show That Never End: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock ($26.95) explains exactly what was “progressive” about the music, how it arose out of psychedelia and heavy metal, and why it went from dominating the pop charts to being widely despised and satirized. Spanning five decades, the book is both a narrative history and an affirmation of progressive rock as “a grand cultural detour” that made possible much of the music that is popular today. Every new artistic movement rebels against whatever came before it, but progressive rock’s rebellion was the weirdest, the most outlandish of them all.
Part archeological dig, part culinary science lab, part history lesson with booze, Ancient Brews: Rediscovered and Recreated ($26.95) by Dr. Patrick E. McGovern is a romp through time to rediscover how our ancestors brewed libations, and how to recreate these liquid time-capsules at home. Biomolecular archeologist and experimental beer-maker Dr. Pat—as he is affectionately known—not only traces the rich history of human’s centuries-long passion for fermented drinks, but reveals how research science and the culinary arts combine to bring these paleo-brews back to life. McGovern has worked to uncover the tastes and techniques of ancient brewers, while also exploring the significance of alcoholic beverages in human history: how ancient brews shaped our culture; impacted our environment; and informed our ideas of life, death and the divine.
Soaking up the sun is a good way of cooking up some new dishes with BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts ($35). Stella Parks, an award-winning pastry chef, serves it all up: From foolproof recipes and fresh take on the history of American desserts to the surprising story of how our favorite desserts came to be—the hidden meaning of the word “oreo,” the weirdly vindictive origin of graham crackers, and the marketing-driven machinations that led to key lime pie. You’ll find everything from a one-bowl Devil’s Food Layer Cake to Blueberry Muffins and Glossy Fudge Brownies, even Stella’s own recipes for recreating popular supermarket treats! These meticulously tested, crystal-clear, and innovative recipes (including an effortless, no-fuss twist on Angel’s Food Cake) bring a pastry chef’s expertise to your kitchen.
After working professionally in the offices of Redbook, Us Weekly, United Feature Syndicate and sundry other spots, I no longer dress when I work. And write. The daze of black ties and tuxes are over with. Forever. No more Oscars and Tonys and Grammys and other stuffy, star-studded events.
A new book? That calls for me to wear T-shirts and boxers.
Another article? Perhaps sweats or pjs.
Another blog? The naked truth in the naked truth.
It’s no wonder I didn’t make Terry Newman’s delicious new book, Legendary Authors and the Clothes They Wore(Harper Design, $29.99). This innovative gift book took a clue from the horse-faced Diana Vreeland who, in her 1984 autobio D.V., reminded all “Where would fashion be without literature”?
Newman presents 50 fully illustrated profiles of prominent men and women of letters, highlighting their key works, signature fashion moments from their wardrobe that express their persona and how they influence the fashion world today. This segues into an examination of how this particular item of clothing or style makes up part of fashion’s lingua franca, getting under the skin of the fashion story and talking in more detail about its historical trajectory and distinctive impact on popular culture.
Under the garb are revealing anecdotes about the authors and their work, archival photography, first-person quotations, little known facts, and clothing-oriented excerpts that exemplify their writing style—make this a lively look at the authors we love.
Joan Didion, smoking and leaning against a sleet Stingway, stars out from the cover. In 2015, she was the face of Céline. Everything Didion writes is distinctly Didion; she is an original and that’s something designers can connect with. Her personalized journalism where innermost emotions and ideas are transparently communicated or experimental fiction such as her novel Democracy where she, as the author, takes center stage as narrator are bodies of work that reflect the soul. Her style does the same.
There is only one thing more interesting than a writer, and that’s a stylish writer. The shape and twist of their hair, how they hold a cigarette, or penchant for wearing a particular item is their creative DNA on display, whether it’s an exotic turban like Zadie Smith’s signature head-piece, James Joyce’s wire-framed glasses, or Samuel Beckett’s Wallabees (left).Quite often a writers’ wardrobe is distinctly out of fashion and for that very reason stands out and alone. Likewise, curious fashion-hounds find writers a stimulating muse in today’s non-linear fashion climate.
For some writers, their style does not mirror, but rather, deflects. Take Sylvia Plath, her Bell Jar wardrobe was prim and proper, and a foil for her tormented psyche. The pearls and twinsets, and later, her less formal but still sensible choices, all projected assimilation and a non-confrontational, even somewhat bland persona, yet her work was dark, confessional. For Plath, fashion was aspirational: she dressed in the way she wanted to be seen, rather than exhibit her interior turmoil.
Delving into the wardrobes of literary icons—past and present—and the way they write about clothes provides a glimpse into the world they each inhabited and their moment in time. A testament to the notion that reading and writing never go out of style, this beautifully designed book is sure to captivate lovers of fine literature and dedicated followers of fashion.
My fave remains Jacqueline Susann (below). The iconic author wrote the best novel ever, Valley of the Dolls, a sordid saga of show-biz. (“Sparkle Neely sparkle!) More than 40 million copies of the bible have sold and I am not even mentioning Jackie’s luck with The Love Machine. After all, once is not enough. Susann sits on the tiled floor of her 200 Central Park South apartment, clad in a mini Pucci (circa mid-60s), diagramming Love Machine‘s Robin Stone on a blackboard.
And the quotes! Newman choose some whoppers, the way Liza would have chosen the right Halston before she got fat and drunk and slovenly.
Dorothy Parker: “Gingham’s for the plighted maid; satin’s for the free!”
Maya Angelou: “Seek the fashion which truly fits and befits you. You will always be in fashion if you are true to yourself, and only if you are true to yourself.”
Oscar Wilde:“Fashion is what one wears oneself. Whit is unfashionable is what other people wear.”
Tom Wolfe: “You never realize how much of your background is sewn in the lining of your clothes.”
Newman writes: “What you read is as important as what you wear. And what authors wear is source material for designers’ creativity. The literary and fashion worlds are therefore synchronized, and the geek chic of librarians is a look that is set to prevail.” She adds: “Fashion is a history book as well as a mirror, and the incidental assimilation of who is wearing what, where, why, and when adds density to a cultural read.”
We were fascinated by The Freedom Broker (Quercus, $26.99), the debut novel by K.J. Howe. Actually, it’s better described as a mystery . . . a book that almost drowns readers as they swim throughout the world of freedom brokers, those whose sole job is to brings hostages home. “You’re alive,” says Howe, “but not really living, dependent on your captors for absolutely everything.” The tome introduced us to The tome introduced us of Thea Paris, a female freedom broker.
Those who know us know we relish the underbelly of life (think Frank Sinatra Jr. kidnapped; better yet, think about Patty Hearst) so we wanted to chat with Howe about her words and wisdom, hoping there’s another trip to Paris.
There are many authors writing mysteries. How did you make sure your book idea was fresh and different? From where do ideas come? Growing up, I lived all over the world, as my father worked in telecommunications. I experienced many adventures in places like Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Puerto Rico, Austria and Switzerland. Several locales had a shadow of danger associated with them, so when I started writing, I chose the international thriller genre. It was an ideal fit. I discovered there were a group of 30 elite kidnap negotiators who travel to the globe’s hotspots to bring hostages home. This led to the creation of Thea Paris. For Thea, rescuing hostages is more than a job; it’s a calling, as she had a very personal experience with kidnapping when her brother was abducted at 12.
Kidnapping intrigued me; it’s a purgatory of sorts. Hostages have to deal with intense hardship, loneliness, boredom and the terror of waking up every day wondering if it might be their last. I’ve spent the last three years immersed in this world to bring verisimilitude to the series. I have the deepest respect for these freedom brokers who risk their own lives to help people in captivity.
For me, ideas tend to sprout when I’m researching a topic, and the story grows from there. When I read novels, I like to be entertained and also learn something. I tried to integrate interesting facts about kidnapping in The Freedom Fighter so that people can understand more about this international growing crisis.
I know you worked with and interviewed Dr. Frank Grimm and Peter Moore before stepping in the shoes of a K&R negotiator. What did you learn that surprised you? What pre-conceived notions were blown away? Spending time with these experts has been an illuminating experience. There are over 40,000 reported kidnappings every year—and that means around five people are abducted with every hour that passes. Kidnapping has become an international crisis, and the problem continues to grow; terrorist organizations are using it as a fundraising mechanism, and displaced military and police in struggling countries are turning to kidnapping as a way of putting food on the table for their families.
One shocker was on the insurance side of the business. It is the one type of insurance where if benefactors know they are covered, the insurance may be null and void. The reason for this is to protect against people “kidnapping” themselves and collecting the ransom. Kidnap and ransom insurance coverage can go up to 50 million dollars.
It used to be that targets were mostly executives in foreign countries and high net-worth individuals. This is no longer the case. Journalists, aid workers, missionaries and everyday people are targeted. It’s important to be cautious if you are traveling to an area where there is a high risk of kidnapping. My website www.kjhowe.com has a map of the world that highlights hot zones.
Are you a mystery reader? Who are some favorite authors? Crime fiction is my favorite genre. I’m an avid fan of authors like Greg Iles and his incredible Natchez Burning trilogy; David Morrell, the creator of Rambo and author of more than 40 bestsellers; Andrew Gross, whose latest book The One Man really resonated with me; and Lisa Gardner, as every book she writes is a guaranteed great read.
Are you scared to read mysteries at night? I don’t mind dark fiction, day or night. I find it fascinating. That said, sometimes I am scared to start a good crime novel in the evening, as I might stay up all night reading it!
Do you know Mary Roberts Rinehart, highly regarded as the first female mystery author who is now an icon? Yes, if I’m not mistaken, the talented author of The Circular Staircase is attributed with creating the well-known phrase, “the butler did it” in her novel The Door, where the butler actually did the crime. Mary also spoke publicly about her breast cancer in 1947 when health issues were not openly discussed. She was a trailblazer in the book world, and I have a great deal of respect for her work.
You both gave us thrills. Talk about Thrillerfest. It is a conference held every July in Manhattan for thriller enthusiasts. I have the honor of being the executive director of this week-long event. We welcome more than 1,000 people, including some of the top names in the genre. We host a day at the FBI, where special agents talk about their area of expertise. We also offer an event called PitchFest where aspiring authors pitch their novels to agents, editors and producers. Add in workshops, spotlight interviews, panels and cocktail parties, and we have summer camp for anyone who loves page-turning fiction. This year, we have a blockbuster line-up that includes Lee Child, Lisa Gardner, C.J. Box, Nelson DeMille, Charlaine Harris, Steve Berry, J.A. Jance, and many others. Visit thrillerfest.com for more information.
I have Type II diabetes. My mother had Type I, and I know the struggle of living with the disease. Having known Mary Tyler Moore, who did much to fight diabetes, I know the struggles she confronted. What are your struggles? What keeps you from reaching for a piece of gooey cake you know you should not (must not?) have? There are more than 29 million Americans who have this illness, and, sadly, the numbers are on the rise. My character Thea Paris has Type 1 Diabetes. I’m a former medical writer, and my grandfather had diabetes, so this issue strikes home with me. I remember watching him inject himself with needles, and that left an indelible impression. I wanted to feature a strong, talented woman with diabetes to inspire people with any chronic illness to keep striving for their dreams. Anything is possible with the right determination. As for that gooey cake, I try to always think long-term gain vs. immediate gratification!
Your baby is turning one. Just think! Twelve glorious months of coo-cooing and goo-gooing. What wonderful memories!
Think again about that year and you’ll remember sleepless nights; peeing and pooing and changing the diapers at 3 in the morning; food on the floor, screaming and crying jags that seem to have lasted an hour. (Maybe it was really two hours?)
Let us introduce you to another member of the family: The Overly Honest Baby Book: Uncensored Memories from Baby’s First Year(Seal Press, $15). Dawn Dais’ slim hardbound volume is not only useful . . . it’s a perfect release for all the unwonderful baby memories. A few samples:
The Year You Were Born (Also Known as the Year Your Parents Stopped Being Fun Blanks to fill in include . . . ♥ The ways our generation is ruining everything for your generation ♥ Pack of condoms $ (wasted money)
Your Conception (So Much Magic and Maybe Also a Little Intoxication) ♥ How much booze was involved ♥ The number of turkey basters involved in this most natural of human processes ♥ The various curse words Mommy uttered when she saw the positive symbol on her pregnancy test
Our fave is The Wide World of the Web (Mommy’s New Hobby: 2 a.m. Internet Searches) ♥ Can babies die from crying too much? ♥ Can parents die from ramming their own heads against a nursery wall? ♥ How much infant feces is too much infant feces in my mouth?
There are only places to paste in those perfect photos ♥ An ultrasound of your feet kicking Mommy’s bladder (your favorite way to pass the time) ♥The photo that crushed all our hopes that you would be the next Gerber baby
The illustrations by Jill Howarth add a delicious (and funny!) touch.
Ready for another kid?
Petrucelli Picks the best in books, music and film . . . and then some