5 New Biographies

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Dali’s Moustaches: An Act of Homage by Boris Frieldwald
(7 Nov 2016)
This original and utterly captivating celebration of Salvador Dali s life and career traces the countless, often outrageous, ways the artist employed his moustache to brilliant effect. Whether curled into a figure 8 or splayed like a cat s whiskers, Dali s moustache is arguably the world s most famous facial hair. But when asked to explain why he styled it in such bizarre and seemingly comic fashion, the artist remarked that his moustache was the most serious part of his personality. In this book, Boris Friedewald tells the life story of the renowned Spanish Surrealist through the various moustache styles he had throughout his life. Dali cultivated his moustaches he staged them and had them photographed. But these were more than mere vanity projects. Dali s evolving facial hair signifies certain points in the artist s own metamorphosis and was a kind of antenna of his metaphysical inspiration. Illustrated with many intriguing photographs of the artist and his ever-changing moustache, this book describes how Dali cared for and styled his facial hair, and shows how it influenced many artists in his wake from Ringo Starr to Lady Gaga. Filled with anecdotes and engaging commentary about Dali s work, this book offers readers a fascinating new way of looking at the artist, his life, and his legacy.

eye of the beholder
Eye of the Beholder: Johannes Vermeer, Antoni Van Leewenhoek and The Reinvention of Seeing by Laura J. Snyder (1 Dec 2016)
By the early 17th century the Scientific Revolution was well under way. Philosophers and scientists were throwing off the yoke of ancient authority to peer at nature and the cosmos through microscopes and telescopes.

In October 1632, in the small town of Delft in the Dutch Republic, two geniuses were born who would bring about a seismic shift in the idea of what it meant to see the world. One was Johannes Vermeer, whose experiments with lenses and a camera obscura taught him how we see under different conditions of light and helped him create the most luminous works of art ever beheld. The other was Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, whose work with microscopes revealed a previously unimagined realm of minuscule creatures.

By intertwining the biographies of these two men, Laura Snyder tells the story of a historical moment in both art and science that revolutionized how we see the world today.

the january man
The January Man: A Year of Walking Britain by Christopher Somerville
(12 Jan 2017)
In January 2006, a month or two after my father died, I thought I saw him again – a momentary impression of an old man, a little stooped, setting off for a walk in his characteristic fawn corduroys and shabby quilted jacket. After teenage rifts it was walking that brought us closer as father and son; and this ‘ghost’ of Dad has been walking at my elbow since his death, as I have ruminated on his great love of walking, his prodigious need to do it – and how and why I walk myself.

The January Man is the story of a year of walks that was inspired by a song, Dave Goulder’s ‘The January Man’. Month by month, season by season and region by region, Christopher Somerville walks the British Isles, following routes that continually bring his father to mind. As he travels the country – from the winter floodlands of the River Severn to the lambing pastures of Nidderdale, the towering seabird cliffs on the Shetland Isle of Foula in June and the ancient oaks of Sherwood Forest in autumn – he describes the history, wildlife, landscapes and people he encounters, down back lanes and old paths, in rain and fair weather.

This exquisitely written account of the British countryside not only inspires us to don our boots and explore the 140,000 miles of footpaths across the British Isles, but also illustrates how, on long-distance walks, we can come to an understanding of ourselves and our fellow walkers. Over the hills and along the byways, Christopher Somerville examines what moulded the men of his father’s generation – so reticent about their wartime experiences, so self-effacing, upright and dutiful – as he searches for ‘the man inside the man’ that his own father really was.

TheMistressOfParis
The Mistress of Paris: The 19th Century Courtesan Who Built an Empire on a Secret by Catherine Hewitt (24 Jan 2017)
Comtesse Valtesse de la Bigne was a celebrated nineteenth-century Parisian courtesan. She was painted by Manet and inspired Emile Zola, who immortalized her in his scandalous novel “Nana.” Her rumored affairs with Napoleon III and the future Edward VII kept gossip columns full.

But her glamorous existence hid a dark secret: she was no Comtesse. She was born into abject poverty, raised on a squalid Paris backstreet; the lowest of the low. Yet she transformed herself into an enchantress who possessed a small fortune, three mansions, fabulous carriages, and art that drew the envy of connoisseurs across France and Europe. A consummate show-woman, she ensured that her life and even her death remained shrouded in just enough mystery to keep her audience hungry for more.

Catherine Hewitt s biography, ” The Mistress of Paris,” tells the forgotten story of a remarkable French woman who, though her roots were lowly, never stopped aiming high.”

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Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt (26 Jan 2017)
In the 1940s and 50s, when the newly minted Jet Propulsion Laboratory needed quick-thinking mathematicians to calculate velocities and plot trajectories, they recruited an elite group of young women who, with only pencil, paper, and mathematical prowess, transformed rocket design, helped bring about the first American satellites, and made the exploration of the solar system possible. Rise of the Rocket Girls tells the stories of these women–known as “human computers”–who broke the boundaries of both gender and science. Based on extensive research and interviews, Nathalia Holt offers a unique perspective on the role of women in science: both where we’ve been, and the far reaches of space to which we’re heading.

 

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Unbreak My Heart by Nicole Jacquelyn

unbreak

Blurb:

What do you do when your soul mate marries your best friend?

If you’re Kate Evans, you keep your friend Rachel, bond with her kids, and bury your feelings for her husband. The fact that Shane’s in the military and away for long periods helps-but when tragedy strikes, everything changes.

After Rachel, pregnant with her fourth child, dies in a car accident and the baby miraculously survives, Kate upends her entire life to share parenting duties. Then on the first anniversary of Rachel’s death, Kate and Shane take comfort in each other in a night that they both soon regret.

Shane’s been angry for a year, and now he feels guilty too – for sleeping with his wife’s best friend and liking it . . . liking her. Kate’s ability to read him like a book may have once sent Shane running, but their lives are forever entwined and they are growing closer.

Now with Shane deployed for seven months, Kate is on her own and struggling with being a single parent. Shane is loving and supportive from thousands of miles away, but his homecoming brings a betrayal Kate never saw coming. So Kate’s only choice is to fight for the future she deserves – with or without Shane. . .

Review:

This book gutted me so badly! I woke this morning with a Book Hangover, I just couldn’t put it down. I cried my ass off and had a consent ache in my heart throughout. But that just made this book even better. It sucked me right in.

“For the past couple of nights when I’d lain down beside her, after she’d fallen asleep and I knew she couldn’t hear me, I’d promised her that she’d never have to forgive me again if she could do it one last time.”

If you’re questioning picking this book up to read, don’t! Pick it up and read it! It was one of the best reads so far this year for me and I’ve read some great books this year let me tell you!

nicole

Author Bio:

Nicole Jacquelyn is the mom of two little girls and a full time college student. She hasn’t watched television in well over a year, she still does things that drive her mother crazy, and she loves to read. At eight years old, when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she told people she wanted to be a mom. When she was twelve her answer changed- to author. By the time she was eighteen, when people asked her what she wanted to do with her life, she told them she really wanted to be a writer- but the odds of that happening were so slim that she’d get her business degree “just to be safe”. Her dreams stayed constant. First she became a mom, then she went to college, and during her senior year- with one daughter in first grade and the other in preschool, she sat down and wrote a story.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Brilliant Book Titles #66

Points if you get what the title is referencing. (Answers in the comments!)

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ online catalogue here.

Blurb:
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Your body is teeming with tens of trillions of microbes. It’s an entire world, a colony full of life.

In other words, you contain multitudes.

These microscopic companions sculpt our organs, protect us from diseases, guide our behaviour, and bombard us with their genes. They also hold the key to understanding all life on earth.

In I Contain Multitudes, Ed Yong opens our eyes and invites us to marvel at ourselves and other animals in a new light, less as individuals and more as thriving ecosystems.

We learn the invisible and wondrous science behind the corals that construct mighty reefs and the squid that create their own light shows. We see how bacteria can alter our response to cancer-fighting drugs, tune our immune system, influence our evolution, and even modify our genetic make-up. And we meet the scientists who are manipulating these microscopic partners to our advantage.

In a million tiny ways, I Contain Multitudes will radically change how you think about the natural world, and how you see yourself.

Brilliant Book Titles #65

disrupted

You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb:
Dan Lyons was Technology Editor at Newsweek Magazine for years, a magazine writer at the top of his profession. One Friday morning he received a phone call: his job no longer existed. Fifty years old and with a wife and two young kids, Dan was unemployed and facing financial oblivion. Then an idea hit. Dan had long reported on Silicon Valley and the tech explosion. Why not join it? HubSpot, a Boston start-up, was flush with $100 million in venture capital. They offered Dan a pile of stock options for the nebulous role of “marketing fellow.” What could possibly go wrong?

What follows is a hilarious and excoriating account of Dan’s time at the start-up and a revealing window onto the dysfunctional culture that prevails in a world flush with cash and devoid of experience. Filled with stories of meaningless jargon, teddy bears at meetings, push-up competitions and all-night parties, this uproarious tale is also a trenchant analysis of the dysfunctional start-up world, a de facto conspiracy between those who start companies and those who fund them. It is a world where bad ideas are rewarded with hefty investments, where companies blow money lavishing perks on their post-collegiate workforces, and where everybody is trying to hang on just long enough to cash out with a fortune.

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According to WordPress, this is our 200th blog post! I didn’t think it was anywhere near that 😀

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Physical by Andrew MacMillan

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I wanted to love this. I really did. I was waiting for this book for a while – it was on reserve by other people (when does that happen with a poetry book, ever?) so I was excited to get it (perhaps I had built it up in my head, or it was the fact that it, as a collection, won the 2015 Guardian First Book award, beating out novels and other books).

Anyway, Andrew McMillan can certainly write well, and rather beautifully. Split into three sections, Physical, Protest of the Physical and Degradation, the book starts out well, with the first section containing the best poems, with some lines that blew me away, which had me re-reading them over and over, such as:

“ (…) or not giving a name because names would add a history
and the tasting of the flesh and blood of someone
is something out of time”

– Jacob With The Angel

and, possibly my favourite line in the whole book:

“ (…) because
what is masculinity if not taking the weight

of a boy and straining it from oneself?”
– Strongman

This section, like the entire book, is about intimacy; the physical intimacy between men, gay men, queer men, and locating them in the world; be it in the myths of Jacob and the Angel, or situated in both saunas and the poets that came before McMillian, as they are in the Thom-Gunn referencing “Saturday Night”, or the clash of the virtual world of pornography meeting the reality behind them, in the standout poem, “Screen”. This first section alone is worth the price of the book.

However, the succeeding sections just didn’t work for me after that astonishing opening. The second section, Protest of the Physical is a long, oblique poem about living in towns, and cities, about being part of that landscape, about resisting it. Its unusual structure fits it well, and it’s got plenty of ideas and great images but somehow they don’t seem to all fit together in the end – perhaps though, that’s the point?

The final section, Degradation, felt to me almost like an afterthought, being the shortest of the three and the most opaque. Despite it being my least favourite section, I can almost see what was going on here. The body decaying, degrading, dissipating into a final burst of images, of ideas and it almost works on that level.

All that said, despite these criticisms there is plenty here to love, and more than anything, this book is definitely worth reading, especially since it marks MacMillan as a major poet to watch out for (and, I’m delighted to see, a poet that deals with gay themes quite unabashedly being published by the very select major publisher, Cape). In that vein, I’ll leave you with a few lines from the opening of “Screen”:

“at the beginning I asked you
to let me watch you watching porn    I think
I needed to see you existing
entirely without me    your face lost

in concentration on another’s
rhythm    to know if we could work    I knew
that you would end up loving me too
much    I thought you needed other idols”

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

5 New Poetry Collections

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Avowed by Julie R. Enzer (8 Nov 2016)
Bold and wise, compassionate and erotic, the poems in Avowed explore aspects of a contemporary lesbian life within a committed relationship and as a citizen in the larger community. The narrator celebrates (“We break a glass. Mazel tov! We cry”) and mourns her losses (“Sometimes, between three and four a.m./on a break from her game/of bridge, your dead mother visits.”) Riffing on Jewish liturgy, the feminist declares “everyday/I thank God/I was born a woman.” Avowed delivers a complex, sustained vision of intimate partnership while celebrating the political changes that have secured LGBTQ visibility.
-Robin Becker, author of Tiger Heron

Avowed asks the critical question, “Is paper all that makes a marriage?” For the queer bride in a long-term relationship, the answer is as hard-won as the right to marry. Julie R. Enszer explores the bittersweet journey of a lesbian couple’s struggle through the happily ever after with an edgy and humorous perspective that dares to share deep truths about desire, sex, and love.
-Rigoberto González, author of Unpeopled Eden

contradictions
Contradictions in the Design by Matthew Olzmann (15 Nov 2016)
“Matthew Olzmann’s poetry is that rare thing that embraces complication while, at every turn, filling us with wonder. “Contradictions in the Design “incorporates ‘patterns among celestial bodies, the mysteries of Christ, X + Y, crossword puzzles, free will, ‘ but also the playfulness and oddities of life that allow us to laugh hardest at ourselves. Desire, Supervillains, Moby, and ‘the idea of Moby’: prepare yourself to be dazzled.”C. Dale Young

These political poems employ humor to challenge the cultural norms of American society, focusing primarily on racism, social injustices and inequality. Simultaneously, the poems take on a deeper, personal level as it carefully deconstructs identity and the human experience, piecing them together with unflinching logic and wit. Olzmann takes readers on a surreal exploration of discovery and self-evaluation.

From: “Elegy Where Small Towns Are Obscured By Mountains”:

” There are all kinds

of stories eaten by history and silence
and neglect. Above a door, something stirs
the chimes, and reminds someone inside
that where there is wind: a song,

however faint. A man hears it, and passes
through a screen door into a night of fireflies.
He looks around as if called by a voice.
The wind has passed. The chimes are quiet.”

Matthew Olzmann’s first book of poems, “Mezzanines,” received the 2011 Kundiman Prize and was published by Alice James Books. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in “New England Review,” “Kenyon Review,” “Poetry Northwest,” the “Southern Review,” “Forklift,” “Ohio ,” and elsewhere. Currently, he is a visiting professor of Creative Writing in the undergraduate writing program at Warren Wilson College and co-editor of “The Collagist.””


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My, My, My, My, My by Tara Hardy
(15 Nov 2016)
Suddenly stricken by a life-threatening condition, the author finds she has slipped into an alternate reality one in which her life and her livelihood are no longer to be counted on. Oddly, she finds it s a place populated with not just hope, but a newfound appreciation for the splendors of the physical world. Her fight to stay alive, while terrifying, is deeply vibrant.”

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Blindsight by Greg Hewett (29 Nov 2016)
Praise for Greg Hewett: 2010 Lambda Literary Award Finalist in Poetry 2007 Triangle Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry Finalist In poems that are full of wit, touching, and introspective, as well as formally inventive, we find the poet losing his sight, becoming a parent, and occupying middle age with a sense of calm and inevitability. From “Skyglow”: we spin filaments of light into profiles, drawing each other through something resembling time and space and dark. Let’s call this something something vague and mythic as the ether. Let’s say we’re ethereal.

primer
Primer by Aaron Smith
(30 Nov 2016)
In his third poetry collection, “Primer,” Aaron Smith grapples with the ugly realities of the private self, in which desire feels more like a trap than fulfillment. What is the face we prepare in our public lives to distract others from our private grief? Smith’s poetry explores that inexplicable tension between what we say and how we actually feel, exposing the complications of intimacy and the limitations of language to bridge those distances between friends, family members, and lovers. What we deny, in the end, may be just what we actually survive. Mortality in Smith’s work remains the uncomfortable foundation at the center of our relationship with others, to faith, to art, to love as we grow older, and ultimately, to our own sense of who we are in our bodies in the world. The struggle of this book, finally, is in naming whether just what we say we want is enough to satisfy our primal needs, or are the choices we make to stay alive the same choices we make to help us, in so many small ways, to die.

The Middle of Nowhere by Geraldine McCaughren

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Set at the end of the 19th century in the Australian outback, Comity lives with her mother and father in a telegraph relay station. Her father’s job is to transmit telegraph messages via Morse Code. They get deliveries by camel, her best friend is an aborigine boy called Fred and all is well until her Mother, Mary, dies after being bitten by a tiger snake. He father retreats into his own world and Comity is left to her own devices. When Quartz Hogg, an assistant for her father from the telegraph company arrives things take a turn for the worse.

This is a really great historical account of the time set against the fantastic back drop of the Australian dessert. The story itself starts off quite slowly but is made up for by the attention to detail, description of the Australian landscape and dialogue sprinkled with words from an Aboriginal dialect. The story is a tale of grief, sadness and friendship which also deals with racism and the need for respect for different cultures. The main character’s name is Comity and although set over 100 years ago the themes in this book are still very relevant,  the author stresses in the forward that now more than ever “there seems to be a more urgent need than ever for “Comity” harmony and understanding between nations..”

This book would be aimed at ages 9+ although I think older readers might enjoy it more.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Brilliant Book Titles #64

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb:
Thirty-something-year-old Sophie White’s life appears to be going in exactly the right direction: perfect husband, adorable baby, nice house, interesting job … domestic bliss. But we all know that life is never that smooth and, more importantly, that your dinner isn’t always kale and quinoa.

In this collection of recipes and rants, Sophie shares her life on a plate: from a brush with madness to falling in love; from almost running away from her wedding to getting unexpectedly pregnant (cue a gradual return to crazy); from surviving her mother and her son – her arch nemeses and her two favourite people in the world – to losing her father in his fifties to early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

And eating. Always eating.

Part cookbook, part memoir, part self-help manual, Recipes for a Nervous Breakdown is a hilarious and refreshingly honest take on the life of a modern millennial woman the perfect kitchen companion for laughing about the silly stuff, crying about the sad stuff, staring down our own personal madness and getting on with it (all while eating some delicious food along the way).

Brilliant Book Titles #65

how i escaped my certain fate

You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb:
Experience how it feels to be the subject of a blasphemy prosecution! Find out why ‘wool’ is a funny word! See how jokes work, their inner mechanisms revealed, before your astonished face!

In 2001, after over a decade in the business, Stewart Lee quit stand-up, disillusioned and drained, and went off to direct a loss-making musical, Jerry Springer: The Opera. Nine years later, How I Escaped My Certain Fate details his return to live performance, and the journey that took him from an early retirement to his position as the most critically acclaimed stand-up in Britain, the winner of BAFTAs and British Comedy Awards, and the affirmation of being rated the 41st best stand up ever.

Here is Stewart Lee’s own account of his remarkable comeback, told through transcripts of the three legendary full-length shows that sealed his reputation. Astonishingly frank and detailed in-depth notes reveal the inspiration and inner workings of his act. With unprecedented access to a leading comedian’s creative process, this book tells us just what it was like to write these shows, develop the performance and take them on tour. How I Escaped My Certain Fate is everything we have come to expect from Stewart Lee: fiercely intelligent, unsparingly honest and very, very funny.

Brilliant Book Titles #63

straight jacket

You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb:
Written by Matthew Todd, editor of Attitude, the UK’s best-selling gay magazine, Straight Jacket is a revolutionary clarion call for gay men, the wider LGBT community, their friends and family. Part memoir, part ground-breaking polemic, it looks beneath the shiny facade of contemporary gay culture and asks if gay people are as happy as they could be – and if not, why not?

In an attempt to find the answers to this and many other difficult questions, Matthew Todd explores why statistics show a disproportionate number of gay people suffer from mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, addiction, suicidal thoughts and behaviour, and why significant numbers experience difficulty in sustaining meaningful relationships. Bracingly honest, and drawing on his own experience, he breaks the silence surrounding a number of painful issues, explaining:

· how growing up in the closet can overwhelm the gay child with a deep sense of shame that can leave young people with perilously low self-worth and a powerfully negative body image
· how many gay men overcompensate for childhood shame by pursuing unobtainable perfection, aspiring to have perfect bodies, boyfriends and lives
· how gay culture, so often centred around alcohol, drugs, quick sex and even quicker wit, exacerbates the problem, and what we can all do to make things better

Meticulously researched, courageous and life-affirming, Straight Jacket offers invaluable practical advice on how to overcome a range of difficult issues. It also recognizes that this is a watershed moment, a piercing wake-up-call-to-arms for the gay and wider community to acknowledge the importance of supporting all young people – and helping older people to transform their experience and finally get the lives they really want.