Endpapers: Winter Reading 2013 

The Flyer Staff Warms Up to This Season's New Books

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A Massacre in Memphis: The Race Riot That Shook the Nation One Year After the Civil War
By Stephen V. Ash
Hill and Wang, 270 pp., $27
As is amply and graphically laid out in this valuable contribution to local and national history, an outbreak of racially fueled carnage and arson occurred in Memphis in early May of 1866. It scandalized the nation, worsened the divide between radical Reconstructionists and unregenerate Rebels, and was crucial in tipping the balance of power against the soon-to-be-impeached President Andrew Johnson.

But ironies abound in this tale, which is recounted by Stephen V. Ash in masterfully recovered (and horrifying) historical detail that would put the most capable and diligent spot reporter to shame. The rapes, shootings, beatings, and mob-torchings of dwellings (both inhabited and uninhabited) are all here, as is an amply documented background treatment of the developing post-war tensions, mainly between freedmen and freshly mustered-out black soldiers, on the one hand, and, on the other, a newly immigrated Irish-American population whose generally undisciplined members made up most of the city's local police force and much of its political leadership.

That's history lesson number one and the paramount irony: Native-born Southern whites and ex-Confederates in Memphis played only a small role in the violence against blacks which lasted for days following a rowdy and random encounter between a few black members of the remaining federal occupation force and a handful of Irish cops. The animosities seem to have been based in jealousies and mutual resentment between the two previously unempowered ethnic groups.

Make no mistake. The evidence so carefully marshaled by Stephen V. Ash, professor emeritus of history at the University of Tennessee, makes it clear that the city's blacks were the main innocent victims of white provocateurs (including an irresponsible and thriving yellow press). The death toll was one-sided: 46 blacks; three whites.

The other major irony noted by Ash is that, after the imposition of Jim Crow laws in the South — a fact largely tolerated, even encouraged in the North — the events of the Great Memphis Massacre were basically forgotten and essentially remain so, unmemorialized. The author makes a final plea: "Perhaps the sesquicentennial in 2016 will provide an opportunity to rectify this lapse of memory, to acknowledge publicly the 'screams and groans of the dying victims at Memphis,' and to allow their ghosts at last to rest." — Jackson Baker

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The Southerner's Handbook: A Guide to Living the Good Life
By the editors of
Garden & Gun
Harper Wave, 287 pp., $27.99
Put on your seersucker suit, sharpen your knife, and grab a bottle of bourbon. And if the finer points of those three tasks escape you, just grab a copy of The Southerner's Handbook.

The new book by Charleston-based Garden & Gun magazine is a field guide to living in the Garden & Gun South, the one that admires bird dogs, roots music, and mint juleps. (It offers no advice on taking the wheels off your mobile home.)

The book often speaks to things and places and people that make the soul of the South. But much of it offers real-world help. The food section, for example, has advice on seasoning a cast-iron skillet and cooking fried chicken, biscuits, sausage gravy, and more. The style section offers tips on how to be a Southern hostess, how to break in new cowboy boots, how to wear that seersucker suit, and how to tell a great story (always include an animal).

The chapters are well defined, and the essays — including three by the Flyer's own Chris Davis — are short. This makes the Handbook a fun, breezy read for the coffee table or to keep on the shelf for emergency advice on Southern decorum. (How do I fold a pocket square, again?) The book's rules are neither hard nor fast. They are more a jumping-off place for conversation and likely many a good-natured argument. — Toby Sells

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The Best American Comics 2013
Edited by Jeff Smith; series editors Jessica Abel and Matt Madden

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 382 pp., $25
From Jeff Smith's introduction to the new anthology The Best American Comics 2013: "So get yourself a glass of milk (or a bourbon), because in front of you awaits wit, style, danger, curiosity, philosophy, metaphysical visions, love, angst, sex, betrayal, and cutting-edge ocular techniques all folded into this thing — this experience — we call comics."

Like the other entries in the "Best American" series, Comics is a tidy one-stop shop for short pieces and excerpts from longer works that have appeared recently. It's a great way to dip a toe in the medium, to discover new writers and artists if you're already initiated, or to indulge the nerd completist who may live deep down inside. In other words, there are lots of somethings for everybody.

Smith is the genius behind Bone, an epic and elegant series full of wit, warmth, and humanity that's like a mashup of Lord of the Rings and Peanuts. He's an ideal candidate to select a generously diverse and accessible set of comics stories. So his tome contains a chapter from Alison Bechdel's instant classic graphic novel/memoir Are You My Mother?.

Also on display is a piece of Craig Thompson's artistic masterpiece Habibi. The selection shows off Thompson's calligraphic and ornate pen and touches upon but doesn't fully display the baptismal degradation Thompson achieves in the full book, a human coming-of-age story both universal and specific, taking place over millennia, where hope is achieved only after swimming a river of shit. Kinda hard to capture that in an excerpt.

Comics 2013 is a treasure box that debunks any still-held notions about the limitations of comics. (Spoiler alert: There aren't any.) The book also has a list of other notable comics from the time frame, so you can hunt down what else is out there and see how the series editors did with their picks. Like, what's John Martz's Machine Gum? Can't wait to find out. — Greg Akers

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Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair
By Anne Lamott

Riverhead Books, 96 pp., $17.95
Anne Lamott follows her 2012 best-seller, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, with another short spiritual memoir, Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair. In its pages, she explores how to find meaning in life when faced with incomprehensible personal tragedy. In her usual style, Lamott does not give step-by-step instructions but instead offers vignettes from her own life threaded together with a central idea: The search for meaning begins with people "sticking together as we try to make sense of the chaos."

Through the book, Lamott does precisely what she prescribes as the first step toward finding hope and meaning. She talks in detail about seasons when her life was in shambles. She discusses her childhood, where vulnerability was equated with weakness and it was not okay to acknowledge if you weren't actually all right. She then tells how she unlearned that isolating approach to life and gives us permission to grieve as long as we need to.

It can be difficult to write about spirituality without implying you have life all figured out, but Lamott treats the topic with a non-preachy, non-exclusive attitude. She delivers anecdotes within the context of her own beliefs, but she expects readers to bring their own. And despite the seemingly heavy subject matter, Lamott keeps the mood light with humor and amusing observations. — Hannah Anderson

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S.
Conceived by J.J. Abrams; written by Doug Dorst

Mulholland Books, 472 pp., $35
This intense mystery novel is hefty — more than 450 pages — and filled with the words of the fictional V.M. Straka, an anonymous, prolific author credited with conspiracies, murders, and revolution. But the story in S. is not just Straka's, typewritten on the pages of a book called Ship of Theseus. It's along the margins and inserted between the pages as well.

Within those margins, we read messages between two college students at Pollard University: Jen, who is close to graduating without any idea of what she wants to do, and Eric, a literature graduate student who has been ostracized by his department. Eric's study of Straka is his life's work, while Jen just happens to stumble upon Ship of Theseus in the library on campus, where she works. The two begin to bond over their interest in the book — the major question being who Straka was exactly — which thrusts the reader of S. into a mystifying world of codes and hidden messages.

The third facet of S. is what's shared, in physical form, between Jen and Eric: Notes, postcards, and printed telegrams all add to the research into this intricate world.

S. is a page-turner. Not only are readers engaged by and immersed in this world of intrigue and espionage, they are also invested in the relationship between Eric and Jen, who are figuring themselves out, right along with the Straka mystery. The high production values of the book, the removable items pressed between its pages, and the quality of the writing make this strange world that much more real. — Alexandra Pusateri

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Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety
By Eric Schlosser

The Penguin Press, 632 pp., $36
If you get on Facebook every day and watch the latest serial cable TV dramas or follow a sports team while tweeting, it may do good to remind yourself about the threat of nuclear annihilation. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, our culture has swept away all of the anxiety and fear that dominated life during the Cold War. It's staggering how quickly we stopped worrying about the bomb.

Eric Schlosser's name is familiar from Fast Food Nation, his warning about how fast food was killing us slowly. This time out, Schlosser takes on our instantaneous vaporization in Command and Control, a book detailing the creation, maintenance, and some terrifying mishaps regarding the U.S. Strategic Air Command (SAC). SAC, a division of the Air Force, won the nasty contest among the service branches to develop and service these new weapons. And were they new.

Schlosser's description of the early days of nuclear experimentation is revealing. Sweep from your mind all thoughts of labs and precision instruments. The development of man's most destructive weapon involved experiments at the kitchen table in houses abandoned in the desert or in old Quonset huts. And the scientific controls were not the only slack ropes. When the military discovered the new toy, it very quickly placed an order for 150,000 of them. The control of the missiles and warheads was a boon to the Air Force. But the effort to acquire weapons was greater than the effort to develop or maintain them. The failures of the first tests with B-29 bombers make Obamacare look like a success on the order of the miracle of loaves and fishes.

Schlosser has the popular-history/policy-form under his control. The book reads briskly as it alternates between the historic development of nuclear weapons by the U.S. and the Soviets and the tale of what happened in a missile silo across the river in Damascus, Arkansas. Those old enough to remember will shudder over what we lived through and what threats we still face from our nuclear endeavors. Those too young to remember can be forgiven for calling us fools for allowing it happen. — Joe Boone

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Cross My Heart
By James Patterson

Little, Brown, 419 pp., $29
Over the course of two decades, best-selling author James Patterson has created 20 novels centered on the action-packed life of Washington, D.C., police detective and psychologist Alex Cross. And the 21st installment to the crime, mystery, and thriller series, Cross My Heart, may be the most powerful one yet. In this latest book, Cross finds himself burdened with the task of finding a serial killer who suffers from multiple personality disorder and finds enjoyment in kidnapping and killing babies and prostitutes.

But Cross' worries don't end there. While embarking on a cat-and-mouse game with the killer, another crazed individual arises with malicious intentions of his own. They're not aimed at random individuals within the D.C. area, however. Instead, the focus is on the thing that Cross cherishes most: his family.

Cross My Heart is in five parts — each one a new piece to the puzzle of Cross' battle to apprehend the person committing the abductions and murders and to the plans of the maniac preying on Cross' family. The book has it all: rape, murder, heartache, seduction, the list goes on. Written in the suspenseful style that's made Patterson one of the world's most popular authors, Cross My Heart is a page-turner well worth the price and your time. — Louis Goggans

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Repast: Dining Out at the Dawn of the New American Century, 1900-1910
By Michael Lesy and Lisa Stoffer

W.W. Norton, 234 pp., $25.95

Michael Lesy was among a group of people asked to test out the New York Public Library's website, and while he was clicking about, he happened upon "The Buttolph Menu Collection," an archive of thousands of menus from the early 1900s. What he saw in those old menus offering Pommes Hollandaise, minced ham, and oatmeal crackers was the collector's intent: recording the history in food, not the history of food.

So inspired, Lesy and his wife, Lisa Stoffer, have written Repast, which captures the great social changes in America at the turn of the 20th century by focusing on dining out and all its elements — the food, the customers, the staff, the real estate. Though the book, with its glossy pages and huge blocks of quotes from source material, looks and reads like a textbook, the material itself is deeply engrossing.

Among the most vivid sections are those that deal with the mass influx of workers into the country's big cities and the act of feeding them: scenes of counters stacked with food and workers grabbing from the piles and eating so quickly as to cause a dyspepsia epidemic; the African-American waiters' strike in Chicago, broken by importing white women, paid at a lower scale, to do the job; and the introduction of automats beautifully wrought in wood and tilework and equipped with an intricate pipe system that delivered coffee. And, fittingly, included in Repast's pages are many images of the menus from the Buttolph collection. — Susan Ellis

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Facing the Other Way: The Story of 4AD
By Martin Aston

HarperCollins, 617 pp., $29.99
Facing the Other Way, the first attempt at chronicling the 4AD record label, is an extensive one, with more than 600 pages of history, interviews, and insights on the iconic British label.

Started in 1980 at the dawn of the British post-punk movement, 4AD put out the first records of bands such as Bauhaus, Cocteau Twins, and the Birthday Party. After establishing itself as a leader in the underground, 4AD crossed the pond and discovered talent in American groups such as the Pixies, Throwing Muses, and the Breeders. The label stayed true to its post-punk/art-rock aesthetic until 1999, when owner Ivo Watts-Russell sold his share back to the company he helped found. While not under the leadership of Watts-Russell today, 4AD still exists and is home to modern music weirdos like Grimes, Ariel Pink, and Deerhunter.

Chronicling each influential year chapter by chapter, author Martin Aston seems to have left no stone unturned to dig up the dirt on the label's roster, and at times his coverage can be a bit exhaustive. Music memoirs often give you a perspective on an artist (or, in this case, a label) you may not have ever wanted, and Facing the Other Way is no exception. Still, Aston's work here is as astonishing as it is thorough, giving the reader an in-depth look into the pre-internet era of underground music. It's an interesting read for anyone looking to delve deeper into a lesser-known side of post-punk and underground music through the 1980s and '90s, but at 617 pages, Facing the Other Way is definitely more for the obsessed than the newly converted. — Chris Shaw

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Boys: An Anthology
Edited by Zach Stafford and Nico Lang

Thought Catalog, 193 pp., $5.99 (eBook)
As much as the LGBT community wants to put on a united front in the fight for equality, there's a real problem under the surface. The foreword to Boys: An Anthology, a collection of essays written by gay men about vulnerable moments in their lives, sheds some light on this issue:

"Saying the word 'boy' in queer and gay male communities is constructed to mean a certain thing about what maleness is and isn't, who is included in our spaces and who is left out. You can tell a lot about a society by those they push to the margins, and our community doesn't leave much room for men of color, trans men, disabled men, or anyone who doesn't look like our friends."

Boys sets out to correct the exclusionary aspects of the community by sharing the stories of gay men of every stripe — gay men of color, trans men, and white men alike. Many of the essays take on a "coming of (g)a(y)ge" approach, like the one about Shawn Binder accidentally outing himself during freshman year of high school on AOL instant messenger after he smoked weed and made out with a 20-year-old man. Or the time 5-year-old Noah Michelson was called a queer by the garbage man after he did a "burlesque-esque dance" in his underwear in the front yard. He'd no idea what a "queer" was, but Michelson told his dad, who angrily chased down the garbage man, which was okay because, in Michelson's words, "I like being a queer."

There are more serious stories, like the one about Erik Bellis, a trans man whose parents tried to kidnap him and take him to ex-gay therapy when he was 19. And Jaime Woo writes about the time he cropped his Asian face out of his torso picture on the gay male hook-up app Grindr. He got lots of messages from interested guys, many of whom asked to see a headshot. After sending a picture of his face, most of the men ceased communication.

Boys (proceeds from the sale of the book go to the Lambda Literary Foundation) accomplishes exactly what its editors Zach Stafford and Nico Lang hoped it would: It breaks down walls by showing the vulnerable pasts of the gay men included in the anthology. They are men from all walks of life, and no matter their skin color or gender identity, they all share moments of weakness, hope, self-doubt, and self-determination. — Bianca Phillips

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The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling
By David Shoemaker

Gotham Books, 400 pp., $27
Professional wrestling is the Rodney Dangerfield of sports entertainment. In spite of its longstanding ability to sell out huge venues and attract massive television audiences, wrestling has never gotten much respect. With documentary films like the locally produced Memphis Heat and books like David Shoemaker's wonderfully written The Squared Circle, that may be changing.

The Squared Circle is a thoughtful chronicle of professional wrestling's wild history, with brief but detail-laden biographies of some of the ring's greatest warriors: Gorgeous George, Randy Savage, Andre the Giant, and Junkyard Dog, just to name a few. While Shoemaker tends to focus on dead wrestlers, he does touch on a handful of Memphis grapplers who are still with us, Jerry Lawler in particular.

Older Memphians may remember being able to find match results in The Commercial Appeal, but American professional wrestling, considered "play-acting" from almost the very beginning, has only occasionally received serious attention in the mainstream media. Ironically, much of the lowbrow sport's early story was chronicled in highbrow publications like The New Yorker, which in 1932 published this account by Joel Sayre: "If this be play-acting, then it is play-acting of the highest order and comes close to being the best entertainment in town. To cavil at it for being play-acting is to cavil at Booth or Barrymore for getting up off the floor and putting on his street clothes after the final curtain has been lowered on Hamlet."

American professional wrestling evolved as a hybrid sport/scam mixing the excitement (and the grift) of carnival midway "catch" wrestling with bits and pieces of various legitimate wrestling styles and boxing. If the results were fixed — as was also the case with boxing — the skills and the showmanship were real. In The Squared Circle, Shoemaker captures this evolution in all its seedy glory and, like Sayre before him, makes it clear why those who focus on the fixed results are missing the point.

As Shoemaker points out, most modern fans only remember the last days of wrestling territories, when every region crowned its own world champions, often on wildly popular local television shows. That all changed in the 1980s when cable TV allowed for national wrestling broadcasts, wrecking local continuities. This significant change is colorfully documented by Shoemaker, alongside the larger-than-life characters who brought it about.

As richly detailed as the history is, one gets the sense that it has been included here almost accidentally. Shoemaker is clearly happiest, and most in his element, when telling the stories of wrestlers like Captain Lou Albano, Ravishing Rick Rude, and the Ultimate Warrior, a wrestler so strong even death couldn't keep him down for long.

Whether you're a wrestling fan or just a fan of good writing and stories, The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling delivers. — Chris Davis

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Lasting City: The Anatomy of Nostalgia
By James McCourt

Liveright, 336 pp., $26.95
Novelist and cultural historian James McCourt's new "meta-memoir," Lasting City: The Anatomy of Nostalgia, is a curious mixture of autobiography and invention, a rambling personal history that is sure to delight a select few and alienate the rest.

Following his mother's deathbed directive to "tell everything," the author embarks on a dreamlike journey through New York City (the "lasting city" of the book's title), telling stories of his past to several seemingly fictional characters and ruminating on everything from memory to Bette Davis.

Like Queer Street, McCourt's 2003 history of gay Manhattan, Lasting City can be both fascinating and frustrating. The "Author" (as McCourt calls himself throughout the book) gives the reader the story of his life in fragments, zigzagging through time and alternating between stream-of-consciousness musings on opera and art and erotic descriptions of illicit sex fantasies. Imagine the style of William Faulkner as told through the eyes of a fabulist queer theorist, and one can get an idea what McCourt's up to.

McCourt's journey brings up multiple histories, both personal and familial. A drive through Columbus Circle with a fictional cab driver evokes a "nightmare scenario" of the young writer caught masturbating in Central Park, an event that never happened but easily could have. A late-night conversation with an aging "culinary service provider" (also fictional) produces some painfully real memories of McCourt's tough-as-nails mother. While there is much here for dedicated fans to glean from his life, McCourt's true purpose is to explore the power and effect of memory and how it shapes the stories we tell about ourselves.

"Nothing happens front to back, absolutely nothing; that's just premeditated compensation for the fluctuations of memory," McCourt states midway through the book. Those "fluctuations," which provide Lasting City with its momentum, can be tricky to navigate, but McCourt's gifted prose is more than worth it for those willing to hop on his eccentric cab ride through the city that lasts. — Kelly Robinson

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Thorazine Beach
By Bradley Harris

Anvil Press, 127 pp., $16 (paper)
Thorazine Beach is the winner of the 35th International 3-Day Novel-Writing Contest. It's by Memphian Bradley Harris. And Harris' protagonist, Jack Minyard, is a 60-year-old private investigator struggling to hold onto sobriety and his professional license. He lives in an Admiral Benbow Inn on Summer Avenue and conducts much of his business out of a Starbucks.

In addition to Nikki, the Starbucks shift supervisor, Minyard is friends with his sometime boss, Eileen, and Major MacDonald of the Memphis Police Department. All three bug him about losing weight and the pills and throw him a few problems to chew on while he's at it.

Over the course of Thorazine Beach, Nikki gets bashed in the face. Eileen mentions that an imposing acquaintance from Minyard's bygone days wants to be in touch. And MacDonald needs help with a mysterious commission — so mysterious, in fact, that Minyard suspects no one else in the MPD knows about it. Friends being what they are, Minyard invests in camping equipment and spends several sweltering nights in a weed-choked field outside a railway station in South Memphis. The clues MacDonald has given him finally pay off, and arrests are made.

While it's true that Thorazine Beach is a short book, the greatest mystery here may be how a novel of any length can be written in three days. The plot is sufficiently drawn to hold interest, but the characters are more interesting. And for anyone who has spent time on Summer between Parkway and the I-40/240 interchange, Memphis is the real star of the show. There's humor here, too. This small aside to Bradley Harris, however: Those wouldn't be irises blooming in July. More likely, they are lilies. — Linda Baker

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Soul Train: The Music, Dance, and Style of a Generation
By Questlove

Harper Design, 240 pp., $45
In a photograph near the front of Soul Train: The Music, Dance, and Style of a Generation, host Don Cornelius stands on a riser to the right, his right arm raised as if in toast. Below him a sea of brightly dressed dancers gyrate. And in the background, glowing in neon red, are two words that have become synonymous with jubilation: SOUL TRAIN.

As Questlove writes in this new coffee-table book, Cornelius devised Soul Train to counter mainstream depictions of African Americans as unsophisticated. Debuting at the dawn of the 1970s, a decade that saw the promises of the civil rights era curdle and crumble, the show presented the best in black music, fashion, and dance. A model of suave decorum, Cornelius presided over it all for 1,100 episodes in 20 years.

Questlove is the drummer/bandleader for the eclectic Philly hip-hop outfit the Roots, but more crucially for this project, he's been a Soul Train obsessive since he was 3 years old. Following the show's unprecedented run in syndication (up through the early 1990s, when Cornelius mysteriously stepped aside as host), he writes as an objective historian and excited fanboy, dutifully relating the facts while explaining how the show informed his own music. His history is far from definitive, as he too often brushes aside — or ignores — any criticisms of the show, but his personal reminiscences are often poignant.

Nevertheless, his text is overshadowed by the photographs. More than half the book is devoted to the '70s, when artists and dancers were intent on outdoing each other in terms of sartorial flamboyance: Chaka Khan defiant in her fur bra; the Trammps looking like psychedelic mad hatters. Upstaging both Joe Tex and James Brown, dancer Damita Jo Freeman may be the only woman who can move in a still photo.

As Soul Train progressed from the '70s to the '80s, the afros were slicked down and the outfits scaled back. Musically, Soul Train expanded to include many excellent hip-hop and pop acts, yet inventive ostentation became passé. As a result, the photographs from this period are much less lively. What remains throughout the show's entire run, however, is its sense of sublime celebration, as though there was no problem in the world that couldn't be solved with shuffling feet and shimmying hips. — Stephen Deusner

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The CG Story: Computer Generated Animation and Special Effects
By Christopher Finch
The Monacelli Press, 281 pp., $75

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American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell
By Deborah Solomon

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 473 pp., $28

I've never been much of a CG fan. Though I was dazzled to see — but, after an hour or so, dazed by — Hugo. (In 3D.) Consider me more a student of old-school stop-motion: the writhing mythological creatures of Ray Harryhausen, who died this past May; Douglas Trumbull's slow-moving and majestic spacecraft in 2001 (over and above that same film's mind-bending "star gate" sequence); the nightmare precision of the Brothers Quay.

But I appreciate outstanding book design and a well-told story. The CG Story is both: impressive in scale (11 by 13 inches) and with many of its pages full-bleed close-ups from the history of computer-generated visual effects, beginning with a proto-computer in 1839(!) through to the state-of-the-art imagery in Life of Pi, Cloud Atlas, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

As for the back story in The CG Story: It's populated with programmers and designers who first had to fight to have their talents recognized by studios and directors; and it's equally devoted to the technological advances in computer science that made the artistry possible. It's also a story thoroughly researched by Christopher Finch, who's already written on the art of Walt Disney, Chuck Close, and Norman Rockwell. But his CG Story is really something else. In a word: spectacular.

Rockwell's work? I was never a big fan. But I never hated it either. Such skill is nothing to look down on. Willem de Kooning and Andy Warhol didn't look down on it. Gallery owners and museum curators didn't when they began recognizing in Rockwell's work its finer points. And Deborah Solomon doesn't in American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell, where she characterizes Freedom from Want — Rockwell's illustration of a family gathered around a giant Thanksgiving turkey — as "one of the most ambitious plays of white-against-white since Whistler's Symphony in White, No. 1." Solomon may be right. But is her borderline S&M interpretation of the policeman in Rockwell's The Runaway overdoing it?

It won't seem so after reading in American Mirror of Rockwell's long-term psychotherapy supervised by Erik Erikson, Rockwell's preference for adult male company, and, let's face it, Rockwell's abundant use of boy models throughout his career.

Nothing outright unseemly in any of this. No reason in Rockwell's lifetime for rumors to form and fly. I'm just saying. Because on these matters Deborah Solomon in her very readable American Mirror has plenty to say and make readers wonder. — Leonard Gill

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Mark: The Dates
One Memphis writer’s got three good reasons to circle December 3rd on his calendar. That’s the official publication date of Mark Greaney’s fourth Gray Man thriller, Dead Eye (Berkley Books trade paperback). It’s the publication date of Command Authority (in hardback from Putnam), the latest Jack Ryan novel by Tom Clancy, who co-authored the book with Greaney before Clancy’s death on October 1st of this year. And it’s the publication date of the mass-market edition of the second Clancy/Greaney collaboration, Threat Vector (Berkley). (Locked On, in 2011, was their first.)

Now mark this: Greaney will be signing Dead Eye at the Booksellers at Laurelwood on Thursday, December 5th, beginning at 6 p.m. And for more on Dead Eye and its author, see the Flyer’s book blog. It’s where Greaney reminds readers he’s fine right where he is: author and co-author of internationally set thrillers; his home base: Memphis, Tennessee. — Leonard Gill

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