Curatorial Quest Yields Rare Book Discovery in Honolulu

A few months ago, a curator at the Honolulu Museum of Art stumbled upon a rare 19th century manual on Japanese art that he didn’t even know existed in the museum archives. Stephen Salel had been searching for materials for an exhibition devoted to  female Japanese manga artists. Recognized today as a sub genre of graphic novels, manga as an art form dates to the nineteenth century, and Salel was looking specifically for work created by Katsushika Oi (1800-1866), considered by many experts to be the first female manga artist. If the name sounds familiar, that’s probably because she was the daughter of Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), whose 1823 woodblock print The Great Wave Off Kanagawa has been reproduced countless times around the world. More at the Fine Books Blog. 

October Quick Picks

Put down the Halloween candy and grab one of these literary treats instead:

See What I have Done, by Sarah Schmidt, Grove Atlantic; $26.00, 324 pages.

Australian library coordinator-turned-novelist makes her chilling debut with a reinterpretation of the infamous story of Lizzie Borden, the Fall River, Massachusetts, native who bludgeoned her father and stepmother to death with an axe 125 years ago this past August.  Borden was tried and acquitted of the crimes, and officially, the murders remain unsolved, but Schmidt’s reexamination of the events through multiple narrators offers gruesome, cruel new perspectives on hidden family secrets.

A Bold and Dangerous Family: The Remarkable Story of an Italian Mother, her Two Sons, and their Fight against Fascism, by Caroline Moorehead, Harper; $27.99, 488 pages. 

National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction finalist Caroline Moorehead (Human Cargo) takes on another topic examining courage under oppression. Here, we meet the Rossellis, an aristocratic family opposed to fascism and Benito Mussolini’s rise to power before World War II.  Using family letters and secret police files, Moorehead recounts how the Rosselli’s dedicated their lives and resources to rebelling against Mussolini’s reign of terror, and how their courage continued to inspire opposition during the dark days of war. A vivid portrait of a country’s decent into darkness and of those who defied it.

In the Darkness of the Night, by Bruno Munari, Princeton Architectural Press; $35.00, 60 pages.

InTheDarknessOfTheNight_CVR

Originally published in Italy in 1956 under the title Nella notte buia, this little masterpiece uses a full arsenal of book arts techniques to convey space and time. Rather than relying exclusively on text, author Bruno Munari (1907-1998) relies instead on symphony of words and images to convey the story. Thick paper cutouts give way to fragile transparent sheets, making for a wholly unexpected and holistic reading experience. Perfect for collectors and paper engineers alike.

Left Bank Books is Back, Online

Left Bank Books is back, but without the brick and mortar setup. Erik DuRon and artist Jess Kuronen recently relaunched the Greenwich Village book hub as an online shop with a curated inventory of vintage, collectible and rare materials. Both worked briefly at the old Left Bank Books before it shuttered in 2016. They kindly answered a few questions recently about the relaunch and what it’s been like to transition to a digital bookstore.

Best of luck to the latest incarnation of Left Bank Books–be sure to visit their website here, and read my Q&A with the new owners on the Fine Books Blog. 

Prix Goncourt Winner-Turned-Film to Open in French Theaters

In 2013, Au revoir là-haut (éditions Albin Michel) by Pierre Lamaitre appeared in French bookstores, a sweeping epic chronicling the lives of two surviving combattants of World War I that enthralled readers and critics alike. The book sold 490,000 copies in 2013, earning Lemaitre the prestigious Prix Goncourt and the Prix Femina. In 2015, it was turned into a graphic novel. (Non-French speakers interested in discovering the book will find it translated as The Great Swindle.) On October 25, the film version hits French theaters. If it’s anything like the book, it’ll be worth seeking out.  Read more on the Fine Books Blog.

Pint-Sized Bookstore Takes Up Residence in LA

Tiny Oof Bookstore opens in #LosAngeles #bookstores http://bit.ly/2x0B2s0 @finebooks

Though already home to a sizable number of independent, brick-and-mortar bookshops, Los Angeles recently welcomed a new addition to the family: OOF Bookstore, which opened its doors in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Cypress Park on July 2. Read all about this pint-size place on the Fine Books Blog.

Moby Dick Marathon Reading Session Aboard a Whaleship Celebrates Melville’s Birthday

From noon July 31 through noon August 1, the Mystic Seaport Maritime Museum in Mystic, CT, held its 32nd annual Moby Dick reading marathon. Visitors were invited aboard the 19th century whaleship (and now teaching vessel) Charles W. Morgan and read Herman Melville‘s (1819-1891) nautical adventure. Read all about it here, on the Fine Books Blog.

Harry Potter and History Collide at the New York Academy of Medicine

Bezoars, screaming mandrakes, and basilisks all figure in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, but their origins date back centuries. Now, the New York Academy of Medicine has launched a digital exhibition exploring the connections between Rowling’s books and historical texts. Read all about it on the Fine Books Blog.