Welcome Art & Object!

I am now writing regular features for the recently launched Art & Object, a website dedicated to covering the art world and the secondary art market. Current stories include a look at the Houston arts scene post-Harvey, a preview of the forthcoming Salon Art + Design Show in Manhattan, and a lot more.  Please check it out, and check back often!

Witchcraft Exhibition on Display at Cornell University

Witchcraft Exhibition @Cornell @finebooks #Halloween #witches http://bit.ly/2zqww8R

Fittingly, a new exhibition on witchcraft opened on Halloween at Cornell University. Pulled from the university’s Witchcraft CollectionThe World Bewitch’d spans five hundred years of witch-related material: trial documents, religious texts, spells, and even confessions explore a group of people, often women, marginalized and ostracized from society, with the core of the material hailing from Germany and France. The highlight of the show includes the first book on witchcraft ever printed, as well as handwritten transcripts from European witchcraft trials. Throughout history, witches were often portrayed as either ugly old hags or as alluring seductresses, and the show explores how that view has changed–or not–with the passage of time.  Read more on the Fine Books Blog.

Printing in Paradise: The Earliest Printing in Hawai’i (and Why Massachusetts Matters)

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Massachusetts has an over two-hundred-year connection with the Rainbow State. Back in the early 1800s, missionaries sailed from Boston to Hawai’i, determined to convert the locals and also to bring the wonders of print to those distant shores. Along with religious fervor, the missionaries also brought a second-hand printing press, kickstarting an impressive outpouring of printed material in Hawai’i. Read all about it on 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.

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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.

Students at Southeastern University Work with Rare Books

For the first time, English students at Southeastern University (SEU) in Lakeland, Florida, have the opportunity to examine various editions and manuscripts while reading and analyzing John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost by John Milton (1608-1694). English professor Cameron McNabb, happens to be a collector of rare and antiquarian manuscripts, and this semester has opened her personal Milton archives to students to provide fresh context and nuance to Milton’s desire to “justify the ways of God to men.”
Professor McNabb spoke with us recently about catching the collecting bug, why Milton has remained a formidable influence in her life and work, and what she hopes her students will learn from working with primary sources. Read the interview at the Fine Books Blog.