Monday, December 19, 2005

Those Darn Cats!

Jim Edgar's BAD CAT is number two on the Book Sense Trade Paperback Nonfiction Bestseller list and just went into its 16th printing, bringing the total number of copies in print to 816,000. Goodness gracious, that's a lot of feline shenanigans!

A Glowing Light in Book World

Laura Whitcomb's A CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT received a wonderful review in the Washington Post's Book World:

Whitcomb juggles numerous narrative and thematic devices with astonishing skill, all the more remarkable in a first-time novelist: first love and grown-up grief; the stirrings of sexual passion after an incalculable loss; blame, betrayal and forgiveness; the power of art to redeem even those who seem irrevocably damaged.

A Certain Slant of Light is marketed as a young adult novel, but its themes and its language are unapologetically grown-up. By the end of the book, Whitcomb's star-crossed lovers are confronting the moral repercussions of their passion. Can James and Helen restore Billy and Jenny to their rightful bodies, giving them each another chance at life, while retaining their own abiding love for each other? I held my breath, hoping that this wonderful new novelist could pull it off. She did, which only made me want to read this haunting book all over again to see exactly how.

To read the entire review, click here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

New York, New York!

New York Magazine named Mark Caldwell's NEW YORK NIGHT the best New York book of 2005, saying:
Other books gave us incisive looks at New York this year, like Kate Ascher’s The Works: Anatomy of a City, a wonk’s ultimate reference guide to our municipal infrastructure. But Caldwell’s study of New York after dark—from New Amsterdam pub brawls to Studio 54—taps directly into the city’s collective unconscious. Nighttime, after all, is when the Stonewall was raided, when a 1776 fire engulfed the city, and when Hannah “Man-o’-War Nance” Bradshaw suffered a famous case of spontaneous human combustion. It takes a deft storyteller to pull together such disparate fragments in a grand historical context, and Caldwell manages it well.
We at ARLA think it would make a perfect Christmas present for your favorite New Yorker!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Art + Auction on Katharine Kuh

In its December 2005 issue, Art + Auction examines the life of radical curator Katharine Kuh, who played a large part in bringing moderism to the mainstream, saying her "informality and candor are welcome antidotes to a century overloaded with manifesto and dogma."

You can read the entire review here.

KEHLS Another Best!

Kirkus Reviews also named Christine Kehl O'Hagan's memoir, THE BOOK OF KEHLS, one of the best of the year. They ran a new review, hoping to expose this beautifully written book to a larger audience, saying "Rarely is a memoir so worth the terrible effort."

Congratulations, Christine!

You can read both Kirkus reviews here.

OUT OF RANGE Best of 2005!

Kirkus Reviews has named C.J. Box's novel OUT OF RANGE one of its Best Mysteries of 2005. Congratulations, Chuck!

Friday, December 09, 2005

ARTNews Gives Hughes His Words' Worth

In their November issue, ARTNews calls LATE AND SOON by Robert J. Hughes "an insightful, entertaining and sometimes scathing portrait of New York's art-auction world." The article continues:

His sharply defined cast of characters -- some more thinly veiled than others -- represents a broad cross section of the auction milieu, from wealthy matrons and their spoiled children to pretentious dealers and suave, unflappable auctioneers.

"Everyone is pretty much made up," insists Hughes, who covered auctions for the [Wall Street] Journal for a number of years. Still, he admits, "there are a couple of art-world figures you can't miss, especially if you know them from my perspective."

The story follows Sotheby's specialist Claire Brogan, a 32-year-old divorcee with middle-class roots, through the fast-paced and elegant scene of Impressionist art auctions, which Hughes describes as "the tossing about of millions of dollars in a flash of calculated frenzy."

Mentions of actual artworks, which Hughes gleaned from recent auction catalogues, are sprinkled liberally throughout the novel. At one point, Claire compares herself to the "wizened old woman" in James Tissot's A Widow (1868). "I like writing about not only the business of art," says Hughes, "but painting itself."

Times Crowns CORONADO

The New York Times gave Dennis Lehane's play CORONADO a rave review this week:

Six People Walk Into a Bar, and a Drama Breaks Out

John Lennon's creepy cover of "Be My Baby," the perky 1963 hit by the Ronettes, is playing as the lights go down at the start of "Coronado," a seductive new throwback of a play by Dennis Lehane. Two hours and many revelations later, it becomes clear what an apt choice of scene-setting music this is, full of double meaning and tapping into that unsettling place where the familiar turns eerie.

Mr. Lehane, a novelist whose books include "Mystic River" (the source of the Clint Eastwood film), makes smart choices in "Coronado," his first play. He starts things off in a tried-and-true setting, one of those bars that exist primarily in theater, where people go to have loud life-changing conversations that no thinking person would hold within earshot of strangers. But once he has set the tone by invoking the conventions of the genre - shady characters; sex and murder in the air - he shakes things up by throwing the rules of time out the window.

Three pairs of drinkers inhabit this barroom at the start: a psychiatrist and his female patient (Jason MacDonald and Kathleen Wallace), who are arguing about the sex they have already had; a married woman and her lover (Rebecca Miller and Lance Rubin), who look as if they might have sex right there in the saloon; and a father and son (Gerry Lehane - Dennis's brother - and Avery Clark), who are preoccupied with a stolen gemstone. The fun is in seeing how these tableaus are connected (a puzzle that's not completed until the action shifts to a fairground in Act II). The playwright doles it all out at an admirable speed, so that you're figuring the secrets out just about the time he's revealing them - not an easy trick.

The actors of the Invisible City Theater Company, under David Epstein's direction, play it full throttle, as if to say, "So what if the peak of the barroom/diner play was back in the last century?" The claustrophobic Manhattan Theater Source space meshes nicely with the material, too.

CORONADO continues through December 17 at Manhattan Theater Source, but it's sold out, so we hope you've already bought your tickets!