January 03, 2005

"The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker" - Review

157912322801_sclzzzzzzz_The book weighs almost ten pounds and boasts 68,647 brilliant cartoons from men and women I've admired for years.

OK, the book actually only boasts 2004 cartoons, but the accompanying 2 CDs carry every cartoon The New Yorker had published up its release.

Let's talk about the book. Like I said, sure it's big and heavy, but it's hard to explain just how imposing the whole vibe of the book is. I mean, there it is, right on the cover. THE COMPLETE CARTOONS OF THE NEW YORKER. It's like the cartoon library of congress on my bookshelf.

I can't seem to get past the feel that it's a weird sort of reference book, to be placed next to dictionaries, atlases and the like at my local public library. But it's also a history text. No matter what "it" was, you can probably see what was going on and how we felt about "it" for the last 80 or so years. And then again it's just this great big cartoon collection to be browsed and shown to my incredibly patient wife who's trying to read her magazine thank you very much.

January 3, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 31, 2004

BookEnds, 12/31/04

Translator Takes the Word at Its Word: "In his translation of the first five books of the Bible, Robert Alter cultivates a scrupulous attention to the Hebrew text and its multifarious meanings."
On New York Times: Books

Girl Power Fuels Manga Boom in U.S.: "Sales of Japanese comics are exploding in the United States as comic book publishers seek to extend their reach beyond young male readers."
On New York Times: Books

In an Age of Strife, What Would Buddha Do?: "Pankaj Mishra has written an odd, uneasy account of the life of the Buddha informed by his own conflicted feelings about the religion's significance today."
On New York Times: Books

A round-up of jazz CDs: "Our pick of the best, including music by Abdullah Ibrahim"
On Economist: Books

A round-up of business books: "What was the best book about business published in the past 12 months?"
On Economist: Books

The origins of plastic surgery: "Sir Archibald McIndoe, the Royal Air Force and the Guinea Pig Club"
On Economist: Books

Two new books about Leonardo da Vinci: "The Renaissance master's “strange career”"
On Economist: Books

The papacy: "For God's sake"
On Economist: Books

How Bush Really Won: "Driving north from Tampa on Florida's Route 75 on November 1, as the battle over who would hold political power in America was reaching a climax but the struggle over what that battle meant had yet to begin, I put down the top of my rented green convertible, turned the talk radio voices up to blaring, and commenced reading the roadside."
On New York Review of Books

Red-Hot MoMA: "The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has changed radically over the years since it was founded in 1929 and moved into its own building on 53rd Street in 1939. What is most striking in the new building that has just opened is the change of scale. For it is, indeed, a new building. The original one on the same site by Edward Durell Stone underwent two successive expansions, in 1964 by Philip Johnson and 1984 by Cesar Pelli. Having purchased the adjacent Dorset Hotel, the board decided that this time the museum should not be just expanded, but largely gutted and rethought. The result is a grand and elegant creation that incorporates the old façades on 53rd Street but completely transforms the interiors and the garden façades on 54th Street."
On New York Review of Books

The Truth About Terrorism: "If you live, as I do, in an American city designated as a likely target by the Department of Homeland Security, the sheer proliferation of security apparatus in the streets assures you that there is a war on. Yet the nature and conduct of that war, and the character—and very existence—of our enemy, remain infuriatingly obscure: not because there's any shortage of information, or apparent information, but because so much of it has turned out to be creative guesswork or empty propaganda."
On New York Review of Books

On Thinning Ice: "Impacts of a Warming Arctic: Arctic Climate Impact Assessment

"It's difficult to overstate the perilousness of the situation. Climate change, instead of occurring slowly over millennia, will soon outpace the ability of many species to adapt and evolve, and not just in the Arctic. An article a year ago in Nature estimated that between 15 and 37 per cent of terrestrial species - that is, more than a million discrete forms of life - will be extinct by 2050. In any case, climate change is already disrupting the lives of millions of human beings. According to James Morris, the executive director of the World Food Programme, the number of people suffering food crises as a result of natural disasters has tripled in the last thirty years. Such effects are usually attributed to a combination of overpopulation, widespread deforestation and degrading soils, but weather events brought about by climate change can provoke and exacerbate humanitarian crises.""
On London Review of Books

Rutrutrutrutrutrutrutrut: "I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe

"Behind all these things - status, virginity, animality, muscles - is the controlling Wolfe obsession: homomania. He is, as he says of one of his characters, 'crazed on the subject of manliness'. Wherever he looks, he sees the struggle for dominance, the tournament, men butting like stags. It's not just that all human endeavour comes down to this: there is really nothing else, whether on the basketball field or in the classroom or at a family picnic. Women are either willing notches on the bedpost, or else aping the male thing in a confused way. We are all of us forever acting out our machismo, like rappers or wrestlers before the fight, narcissistically preoccupied with an almost abstract display of prowess. Even weedy Adam, in the gym, glances at this own muscles in the mirror: 'He was enjoying that temporary high the male feels when his muscles, no matter what size they may be, are gorged with blood. He feels . . . more of a man.' This is it: the endless struggle for tumescence.""
On London Review of Books

December 31, 2004 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 20, 2004

The Love of Libraries.

Libraries are not places of dry scholarship but living sensuality. In Love Story Ali McGraw and Ryan O,Neal get together with the library as backdrop; in Dr Zhivago, Uri and Lara find one another in a library. I have a friend, now a well-known journalist, who became overcome by lust in the British Library and was discovered by a librarian making love behind the stacks in the empty quarter of Humanities with a woman he had met in the tearoom. The librarian was apparently most understanding, and said it happened quite a lot.

Libraries are not just for reading in, but for sociable thinking, exploring, exchanging ideas and falling in love. They were never silent. Technology will not change that, for even in the starchiest heyday of Victorian self-improvement, libraries were intended to be meeting places of the mind, recreational as well as educational. The Openshaw branch of the Manchester public library was built complete with a billiard room.

Just as bookshops have become trendy, offering brain food and cappuccinos, so libraries, under financial and cultural pressure, will have to evolve by more actively welcoming people in to wander and explore. Finding a book online should be the beginning, not the end, of the process of discovery, a peeling back of the first layer: the word library, after all, comes from liber, the inner bark of a tree.

December 20, 2004 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 19, 2004

Japanese Folk Tales Illustrated

Ebo3 Otogi Zoshi are tales for adults and children enjoy alike. In the Muromachi Period and the Edo Period, people would have great fun thumbing through the pages by themselves or have someone read to them - there were many ways to enjoy the stories. The greatest pleasure of all though, must surely have been the beautiful painted color illustrations.
 Many of these flamboyantly illustrated Otogi Zoshi tales are in the possession of the Kyoto University Library. So that you can taste the same enjoyment as people of the olden days, we have added the beautiful illustrations to the each synopsis of the tale and made it like a picture book.

December 19, 2004 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack