Books

RAVISHING READS

Maclean's writers and editors showcase some of season’s most alluring volumes

November 29 2004
Books

RAVISHING READS

Maclean's writers and editors showcase some of season’s most alluring volumes

November 29 2004

RAVISHING READS

Books

Maclean's writers and editors showcase some of season’s most alluring volumes

SPORT

Hockey may be gone during the NHL lockout, but in Canada it’s never long forgotten. Andrew Podnieks’ LORD STANLEY’S CUP (Fenn, $55) tells a familiar story about the nation’s most cherished trophy, but it does it well, with a neat twist. Each section of the actual Cup where the winners’ names are engraved is reproduced and accompanied by mini-portraits. Mike Leonetti’s lavishly illustrated CANADIENS LEGENDS (Raincoast, $50) will appeal to supporters of the winningest hockey club in NHL history. And deprived fans of all stripes may take to the newly revised version of THE OFFICIAL ILLUSTRATED NHL HISTORY (Reader’s Digest, $39.95), which also includes photos of Canada’s international triumphs. This year, at least, all the stats are still up to date.

HISTORY

THE MUSEUM CALLED CANADA (Random House, $65) is one of the richest, most innovative illustrated histories ever conceived. Imagine a museum with all the finest-and most whimsical-artifacts this country has to offer, divided into 25 “rooms of wonder,” from the “Fossil Foyer” to “Confederation Gallery” and beyond. The images-Beothuk pendants, Jean de Brébeuf’s skull, a 150-year-old curling stone-meld seamlessly with the erudite and beguiling text by Charlotte Gray.

Another illustrated history with a difference is R.G. Grant’s ASSASSINATIONS (Reader’s Digest, $39.95). Dividing political killings into categories such as power struggles (Julius Caesar), religious fanaticism (Yitzhak Rabin) and “stalkers and lunatics,” Grant offers an entertaining look at some major moments in history.

PHOTOGRAPHY

EARTHSONG (Fenn, S89.95) is a book of jaw-dropping grandeur. It features the astonishing work of German aerial photographer Bernhard Edmaier, a former geologist, who travelled the world to capture remote volcanoes, icefields, deserts and river valleys. Many of the images, in keeping with Edmaier’s earlier calling, reveal the planet’s skeletal structures.

It’s billed as a “master class,” and MAGNUM STORIES (Fenn, $99.95) does offer unique insight into how a photo story is constructed from inception to publication. Sixty-one

of the world’s greatest photographers are represented, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eve Arnold, Martin Parr and Canadian Larry Towell, all members of the influential Magnum photo agency. In a society bombarded with imagery, this book is a timely reminder of the power of documentary still photography.

Micro-images are the stars of the PHOTOGRAPHIC ATLAS OF THE BODY (Firefly, $59.95). From the opening spread-of some of the 200 billion red blood cells produced daily by the body-to a shot of the more solitary, and more sinister-looking, natural killer cell, the atlas is a full-colour celebration of the weird beauty within us.

POP CULTURE

It would be easy to shrug off OSCAR NIGHT (Knopf, $100), from the editors of Vanity Fair, as another cynical exercise in brand expansion.

Until you open the book. This pictorial history of the Academy Awards, going back to their 1929 inauguration, is a gas. Many of the photos have never been published before. Here’s a stonedlooking Dennis Hopper at the 1970 party, where he was nominated for Easy Rider, there’s Warren Beatty horsing around with older sister Shirley MacLaine in 1966.

Constructed in the same manner as 2003’s Lennon Legend, Charles Pignone’s THE SINATRA TREASURES (Fenn, $65) is a charming salute to the crooner. Its main appeal lies in the 30 detailed reproductions of artifacts from Frank Sinatra’s careerremovable objects that include a copy of FrANkFARE, “Official Club Newspaper of ‘The Sighing Society of Sinatra Swooners’ ” from 1943. There’s also a CD of interviews and songs.

ART AND DESIGN

A fascinating new angle on a giant of 20th-century art makes MODIGLIANI:

BEYOND THE MYTH (Yale, $65) one of the season’s most intriguing art books. Serving as catalogue to an exhibition organized by the Jewish Museum in New York, and currently on view at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, the lavishly illustrated volume examines how the Italian artist was inspired by his Sephardic Jewish heritage, as well as by the avant-garde and tribal art.

Any glossy book of classic art could serve as a survey of historical notions of beauty. Add excerpts from old literature and commentary by Italian novelist and semiotician Umberto Eco, and the result is a gift book with a difference. HISTORY OF BEAUTY (Fenn, $55) is both gorgeous, with full-colour images from classical times to the present, and

FOOD

The tome foodies are salivating over this season is BOUCHON (Thomas Allen, $69.95), follow-up to Thomas Keller’s luxurious 1999 success, The French Laundry Cookbook.

As with the restaurateur’s earlier book, the photos here are stunning. But the recipes are less intimidating: Bouchon, located in California’s Napa Valley, is a bistro, featuring dishes that aren’t dauntingly compliqué.

Among the tempting volumes from TV-celeb chefs are Nigella Lawson’s FEAST: FOOD THAT

CELEBRATES LIFE

(Knopf Canada, $55) and Jamie Oliver’s JAMIE’S DINNERS: THE ESSENTIAL FAMILY COOKBOOK (Fenn, $49.95). The former has impressive battle plans for grand dinners and family celebrations. The latter, which has a chapter called “Five Minute Wonders,” just might help you make it through the week.

Lucy Waverman is a veteran cookbook

author and food columnist: James Chatto has long held forth on food and drink. The Toronto duo has produced A MATTER OF TASTE (HarperCollins, $50), the Canadian book this fall for cooks. Waverman’s delicious recipes never disappoint, and in this seasonally organized book we learn what to quaff with them.

In the neglected cuisine department, there’s Susanna

Hoffman’s THE OLIVE AND THE CAPER

(Thomas Allen,

$28.95) an ode to Greek fare. There’s a lot more here than souvlaki and the tired steam-table standards-mushroom and retsina pie, anyone? As for the book from an éminence cuisine, MARCELLA SAYS ... (HarperCollins, $42.50) is the revered Marcella Hazan’s compendium of “Italian cooking wisdom.”

profound, with erudite and thought-provoking observations by Eco.

MASSIVE CHANGE (Fenn, $39.95) is an examination, by Toronto designer Bruce Mau and the Institute without Boundaries, of the evolving nature of design and its power to shape the future. Companion to the exhibition now on view at the Vancouver Art Gallery and travelling to Toronto and internationally next year, the book features 32 interviews with some of today’s most progressive thinkers in a wide variety of disciplines. The look of Massive Change, with its many intriguing photos, intermittent bright yellow pages and use of different type sizes, conveys a sense of urgency and innovation.

TRAVEL AND ADVENTURE

Its publisher calls it “both labour of love and grand folly.” THE TRAVEL BOOK (Lonely Planet, $56.95) takes readers through every country in the world from A to Z-all 230 of them by Lonely Planet’s calculations—via 1,200 exceptional images and 100,000 frequently witty words. The best time to visit Afghanistan? “April to June for clement weather-or the 1380s, the artistic zenith of the Timurids.” Each nation also has a listing under “surprises,” including “Germans sometimes break the rules.”

The vast South American rainforest-and its extraordinary inhabitants-are lovingly captured in THE LOST AMAZON (Douglas & McIntyre, $45), a showcase of half-century-old photographs taken by legendary botanical explorer Richard Schultes. Compiled with commentary by Schultes’ B.C.-born protege, Wade Davis, currently Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society, the photos offer an evocative portrait of a land and people now under siege.