Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the backissue database. PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital edition via our app or online. For more information on PW's new integrated subscription plan, click here. If you are currently a PW subscriber, click "Login" for full access to the site (if you have not done so already, you will need to set up your account for the new system by going here), or click the "Subscribe" button to become a PW subscriber. Email service@publishersweekly.com with questions.

Login or Subscribe
Brooklyn Bartender: A Modern Guide to Cocktails and Spirits

Carey Jones. Black Dog, $24.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-39025-5

The title of this excellent compendium may lead readers to expect (or dread) a rote collection of bearded, pomaded skinny hipster bartenders in plaid shirts arguing about the “authenticity” of an esoteric and overpriced liqueur, but former Serious Eats editor Jones instead creates a hugely fun, judgment-free tour of one of the country’s hottest spots for craft cocktails. She includes 300 recipes along with loads of salient tips on topics such as affordably stocking a home bar and crafting one’s own grenadine, infusions, and syrups. Though the recipes are arranged by spirit, Jones deftly weaves in profiles of many of Brooklyn’s best bars, all of which offer a handful of signature cocktails. This approach allows readers to either zip right to the gin or tequila chapter or leisurely read the book from cover to cover (which is much more likely—Jones is a great storyteller, and her subjects are informative and engaging). As for the recipes, they’re terrific, easily sourced, and approachable. The classics are all here—Manhattans, martinis, gin and tonic—along with a few thoughtful riffs on each (including a must-try frozen gin and tonic from Extra Fancy). Jones also provides brief profiles of unusual ingredients, bar themes, and plenty of bar trivia, such as the genesis of the Cosmopolitan and what most bartenders order when they go out (a shot and a beer). Even the staunchest teetotaler will work up quite a thirst while perusing what is easily one of the best cocktail books this year. (May)

Reviewed on 04/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Aleppo Cookbook: Celebrating the Legendary Cuisine of Syria

Marlene Matar, photos by Rania Matar. Interlink, $35 (288p) ISBN 978-1-56656-986-6

The rich culinary heritage of Aleppo comes to life in this tribute to the Syrian city at the ancient Mediterranean crossroads. While acknowledging that war, migration, and climate change challenge modern-day Aleppo, Marlene Matar, Lebanese chef of television and cooking school fame, offers delicious ways to celebrate the diverse historical roots of Middle Eastern cooking in over 200 recipes for foundation dishes and fancier meals. Chapters include appetizers, grains, and stuffed dishes; stews, soups, and sauce-based recipes; flatbread, pickles, and preserves; and drinks and desserts. Nearly 30 variations of kibbeh are featured, including quince in a pomegranate meat stock. Numerous vegetable main dishes are included, such as a stew of lentils, bulgar, and caramelized onions, and a traditional Aleppian dish with the delightful name of “Hidden Love” that consists of stuffed zucchini cooked with green beans in a tomato sauce. Desserts include lemony milk pudding infused with rosewater and orange blossoms. Ingredients are regional but accessible to home cooks, and there’s a glossary. This introduction to Middle Eastern cooking techniques will equally satisfy beginners or experienced fans of the regional fare. Cityscape photos and colorful prepared dishes captivate as Mater brings Aleppo’s aromas, marketplace, and table to life. (July)

Reviewed on 04/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Woven Tale Press: Selected Works 2005 & The Empty Spaces Project Gallery Exhibit

Edited by Sandra Tyler and Michael Dickel. Woven Tale, $21.95 (138p) ISBN 978-0-9911-0-242-6

In collaboration with the Empty Spaces Project, a nonprofit art gallery in Putnam, Conn., the editors of Woven Tale Press compile favorite images and writings (including poems, flash fiction, and creative nonfiction) from Woven Tale’s online magazine. . This multimedia offering is part exhibit catalog and part (printed) e-zine, and it successfully conveys these interdisciplinary efforts in book form. For the most part, the colorful, often wacky artwork is more appealing than the writing. The mixed-media efforts are the most eye-catching. Highlights include Donald Kolberg’s steel mesh sculptures, which incorporate each figure’s own shadow as a design element; Boisali Biswas’s woven fiery fiber art entitled “Summer Has Passed”; and Daniel Wiener’s colorful hanging sculptures of plastic, wire, Sculpey, and acrylic paint. Another fine art standout is Joan Giordano’s “Fantasy Journey,” a collage of newspapers, lithography, graphite and paint, with archival images bleeding onto vintage wallpaper printed over with ghostly floral designs. Christine Kalafus’s short essay, “Confessions of a Makeup Addict,” is reassuringly honest and entertaining, and Kelly Garriott Waite’s similarly honest short story “Something Extraordinary” is also noteworthy. Color illus. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 04/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Rust Belt Boy

Paul Hertneky. Bauhan, $21.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-87233-222-5

Essayist Hertneky focuses his first book on his childhood in the steel town of Ambridge, Pa., “with its ethnic enclaves and round-the-clock factories.” He combines his memories with sections on the history of the town to produce a memoir that is both a coming-of-age story and a social history of the growth, death, and rebirth of a rust belt community. He talks lovingly about the strong role Catholicism played in his family during the 1960s, where he “felt embraced at the heart of this world where children were seen as divine gifts.” He also provides a fascinating look at how the town itself was founded in the spirit of communal millennialism embodied by the Harmony Society, a group with origins in Germany that existed in Pennsylvania from 1805 to 1905. He is honest, insightful, and empathetic about the rough life of many of the people who worked in nearby Aliquippa’s steel works, which “gobbled up mile and mile of shoreline.” Most successfully, Hertneky depicts his own trajectory from the town to college and beyond in parallel with the history of Ambridge’s “grand schemes and redemptive dreams.” (May)

Reviewed on 04/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Pen to Paper: Artists’ Handwritten Letters from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art

Edited by Mary Savig. Princeton Architectural, $27.50 (208p) ISBN 978-1-61689-462-7

These original, handwritten letters by 56 renowned American artists from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art are a fresh, fascinating look at the blend of language and art. The collection is edited by Savig (Handmade Holiday Cards by Twentieth-Century Artists), the Archives’ manuscript curator, and organized alphabetically by artist. A short essay by an American art expert accompanies each letter, helping to connect the artists’ visual styles with the appearance of their handwriting. Avant-garde sculptor Alexander Calder’s sweeping script “reflects his personality... responsive, direct, and swelling with energy,” according to Susan Braeuer Dam, director of research at the Calder Foundation. The slanted script of folk artist Grandma Moses ranges from elegant to practical, reflecting a woman juggling her busy life as a farmer and prolific artist, argues Leslie Umberger, a curator of folk art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Photographer Alfred Stieglitz’s bold, black-inked penmanship contains numerous dashes, mimicking his rambling, talkative personality, points out Kristina Wilson, a professor of art history at Clark University. Readers gain a better understanding of the artists through their penmanship: cursive or casual, straight or slanted, wide or crowded, black or colored ink, an emphasis on legibility or structure. This is an unusual, intimate look inside America’s archives as well as a homage to the art of the handwritten word in an age dominated by typeface. Color illus. (June)

Reviewed on 04/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
In the Darkroom

Susan Faludi. Metropolitan, $30 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8050-8908-0

Pulitzer-winning journalist and feminist author Faludi’s wrought and multi-layered memoir focuses on the life of her father, who came out as transgender and took the name Stefánie at the age of 76. In 2004, after nearly 25 years of estrangement, Faludi ((Backlash) and Stefánie reunite in Hungary following Stefánie’s transition to explore her past and reconnect. Faludi dives into Stefánie’s enigmatic past with a journalist’s dogged lust for truth. During a decade of visits to Hungary, where her father relocated after a contentious divorce, Faludi examines Stefánie’s complex psyche in the context of centuries of Hungarian history, with an emphasis on the war years when Stefánie was an adolescent Jewish urchin on the streets of Budapest. Through research, conversation, and relentless probing, Faludi paints a vivid picture of the war and the tormented lives—and deaths—of Hungarian Jews. (In one dramatic scene, Stefánie, disguised with a pilfered Arrow Cross armband and cap, rescues her own parents from the Nazis). The author also sheds light on the dangerous climate of prejudice and racism that persists in Hungary. This is a powerful and absorbing memoir of a parent/child relationship. (June)

Reviewed on 04/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
An Abbreviated Life: A Memoir

Ariel Leve. Harper, $26.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-226945-4

Leve, a journalist, author, and daughter of a poet whom she leaves unnamed, suffered an abusive mother-daughter relationship that reached well into adulthood. In this searing portrait, Leve vividly renders the trauma she endured and her struggle to free herself from her mother. To her friends, who included Andy Warhol and Saul Bellow, Leve’s mother is vivacious and alluring, regularly throwing dinner parties at her Manhattan penthouse. But as a single mother (Leve’s father left the family and moved to Bali), when she commands her child’s time and attention, her demands are absolute, her needs bottomless, and her rages unpredictable and seismic. “Throughout my childhood I was threatened with her lava consuming me,” Leve writes. When her mother is busy writing, she wants Leve silent (disruptive kid games aren’t allowed), and hands her off to a nanny, family friends, or near-strangers. Leve never directly addresses what’s behind her mother’s behavior beyond mentioning medication. Her mother is, Leve notes, the person who supported her talents and helped shape her into a writer. It’s not until Leve, after much therapy, decides in her 40s to move to Bali and limits her mother to contact over email that she experiences a release. Aided by a new relationship, she learns to trust. Leve’s powerful story of surviving her brutal childhood demonstrates that contentment can be found. Agent: Rob Weisbach, Rob Weisbach Creative. (June)

Reviewed on 04/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Before You Judge Me

Tavis Smiley and David Ritz. Little, Brown, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-0-316-25909-5

Frequent collaborators Smiley and Ritz (My Life with Maya) trace the roller-coaster weeks leading up to the unexpected 2009 death of music icon Michael Jackson in this sympathetic, if not entirely revelatory, tale of musical highs and personal lows. In the 16 weeks leading up to what would have been Jackson’s comeback tour, what was originally set to be 10 shows became 50, adding to Jackson’s already anxious demeanor about returning to the public eye. Smiley and Ritz wisely spend as much time on the ins and outs of Jackson’s managerial team as they do on his emotional health. As well as the war over who would manage Jackson, the book covers much behind-the-scenes rumbling from the Jackson family, who were eager to stage a Jackson reunion concert. Jackson wanted no part in this but reluctantly considered it to please his mother, Katherine. Smiley and Ritz underscore Jackson’s childlike fascination with cartoons and toys while nimbly sidestepping the unsavory molestation allegations and court battle, and they show how he found the most freedom when lost in the joys of music, both performing and creating. Woven throughout is Jackson’s disturbing dependence on heavy-duty drugs for sleep—he referred to propofol as “milk.” His accidental overdose death is all the more tragic in the context of a time when it seemed his career was getting back on track. Agent: David Vigliano, AGI Vigliano Literary. (June)

Reviewed on 04/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
[em] [/em]American Arcadia: California and the Classical Tradition

Peter J. Holliday. Oxford Univ, $45 (432p) ISBN 978-0-19-025651-7

Holliday (The Origins of Roman Historical Commemoration in the Visual Arts) catalogs and examines the many ways in which classicism has influenced visual culture, architecture, and society in California. Writing from a place of personal interest, California native Holliday, a professor of the history of art and classical archaeology at California State University, Long Beach, describes the importance of the Roman classical civilization in early American society and traces its influence on California, where Arcadian imagery was used to sell the state to outsiders and to help develop its identity in contrast to “the dense industrial cities of the East and Midwest.” Holliday discusses film, architecture, landscape painting, agriculture, water policy, and even fitness trends and spiritualism. Many noteworthy figures who helped cement the idea of California as an Arcadian paradise (intentionally or not) are also taken up, including writer John Muir, Mexican painter Diego Rivera, and public intellectual Charles Fletcher Lummis, who advocated for the preservation of California’s missions. In the last chapter, Holliday reflects on contemporary issues that stand in stark contrast against the concept of California as blissful utopia, namely urban sprawl, industry, and drought. Well-researched and all-encompassing, this is a thoughtful analysis of how contemporary Californian culture came to be. Photos. (June)

Reviewed on 04/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
Swee’pea: The Story of Lloyd Daniels and Other Playground Basketball Legends

John Valenti, with Ron Naclerio. Atria, $16 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-5011-1667-4

“The con man had conned himself,” writes longtime New York Newsday reporter Valenti (with an assist from Naclerio, Lloyd Daniels’ mentor and friend) of NYC basketball prodigy Lloyd “Swee’pea” Daniels, who played briefly with the L.A. Lakers and five other NBA teams. In the 1980s, Daniels was a magician on the court. His otherworldly talents gave him numerous opportunities; he was able to play professionally without graduating high school. “Lloyd Daniels can do everything with a basketball except one—autograph it,” a high school coach observed. The tragedy of Daniels’s story runs deeper. As broken promises, drug abuse, and screw-ups accumulated, Daniels’ belief in his ability became delusional, even sad. Valenti is unsparing and critical of Daniels’s longtime squandering, but he’s also sympathetic. He explores the circumstances surrounding the young man’s struggle—the influence of drug dealers in certain neighborhoods, the way the NYC school system shuffled Daniels (an undiagnosed dyslexic) to the next grade, and the ability of decision-makers in the basketball world to dismiss personal issues when the talent for hoops glows bright. This rerelease of Valenti’s 1990 book, complete with an epilogue, unsparingly looks at how basketball serves as a salvation and a prison for kids in New York City’s poorer neighborhoods. The poignancy of Daniels’s story, and the stories of the other heroes profiled here, are heartbreaking, even when Valenti’s editorializing and hard-boiled prose take charge. Agent: Monika Taga, Taga Literary Works. (July)

Reviewed on 04/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.