12 Booklist August2017 www.booklistreader.com
the reality-TV show to Bruce (now Caitlyn)
Jenner’s transformation. It’s well-researched
and well-documented trash, but anyone who
watches the Kardashians’ TV show, subscribes
to their tweets, and devours the tabloids will
find just what they’re seeking and love every
minute of it. —Candace Smith
Live Cinema and Its Techniques.
By Francis Ford Coppola.
Sept. 2017. 240p. illus. Norton/Liveright, $25.95
Between 2015 and 2016, famed director
Coppola set out to explore the new medium of
“live cinema” in two workshops at Oklahoma
City Community College and the University of California, Los Angeles. Utilizing the
techniques of live theatrical performances
and the tools of live television broadcasts
(particularly those of sports events), Coppola
hoped to realize a lifelong dream of directing
a cinematic performance in real time. This
stream-of-consciousness journal disguised as
a technical manual is a curious and exhilarating account of a master in his field wrestling
with a new way to convey his vision. The
book begins with an exploration into the history of television in its infancy, when nearly
every program was brought to audiences live,
and it is peppered throughout with personal
asides about how this technique has dogged
his entire career. There are, of course, detailed, happily jargon-free chapters about
technique for anyone familiar with and/or
interested in film production. As in his films,
Coppola knows how to tell a compelling
story. Live cinema, in its new incarnation,
and everyone it attracts, will benefit from his
insights. —Michael Ruzicka
Rabbit: The Autobiography of Ms. Pat.
By Patricia Williams and Jeannine Amber.
Aug. 2017. 240p. Morrow/Dey St., $25.99
As one of her hopelessly alcoholic mother’s five children, growing up in inner-city
Atlanta in the 1980s, comedian Williams
experienced hunger, violence, and sexual
abuse from a young age. At 15, she was selling crack to support herself and her two kids.
Years later, her decision to find legal employment leads to the rock-bottom realization
that, even after putting in the hard work for
her GED and a medical-assistantship degree,
it was all too likely that she was never going
to get hired with a criminal record like hers.
As she joked her way through this painful
moment, her supportive caseworker suggested comedy was Williams’ true calling. It’s
this woman and other “angels” who offered
protective wings, strong shoulders, or firm
boosts whom the author credits with helping her turn her life around. Williams isn’t
seeking sympathy, nor to be “the poster child
for growing up in the hood.” As she notes,
though, “Girls who grew up like me are invisible”; now, her story, written with journalist
Amber, is powerfully visible, and a generous
service to readers. —Annie Bostrom
Slayers & Vampires: The Complete
Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral
History of Buffy and Angel.
By Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman.
Sept. 2017. 528p. Tor, $27.99 (9781250128928); e-book
This year marks the twentieth anniversary
of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer’s TV debut, and
Altman and Gross commemorate the event with a lively
and revealing oral history in
the vein of their two-volume
Star Trek tome, The Fifty-Year
Mission (2016). The writers,
actors, and crew members
that made Buffy and its spin-off, Angel, recount how Buffy
was born out of an early theatrical effort by
Joss Whedon, who went on to become a noted
script doctor for blockbusters such as Speed and
Toy Story before turning to the small screen to
reimagine his tale of a blonde cheerleader who
battled the undead. As complicated stunts
and sophisticated scripts made for long days
on set, Buffy grew to become a seminal piece
of feminist television over the course of seven
seasons, known for its witty dialogue and taking teens’ struggles seriously while paving the
way for more serialized storytelling on television. Angel followed the adventures of Buffy’s
beloved, a vampire with a soul seeking redemption, pushing into more adult, darker territory
during its five-year run. Filled with absorbing
behind-the-scenes details, Altman and Gross’
illuminating celebration of Whedon’s influential shows will thrill fans of Buffy and Angel
and stand as invaluable primary TV history.
YA: Buffy’s tackling of teen issues makes it
as relevant for YAs today as it was 20 years
ago, and newer fans discovering the show
will flock to this book. KH.
Stan Lee: The Man behind Marvel.
By Bob Batchelor.
Sept. 2017. 256p. illus. Rowman & Littlefield, $22.95
(9781442277816); e-book, $21.99 (9781442277823).
Meet Stanley Lieber: movie fan, adventure-story fan, budding writer. Young Stanley
started in the comic-book business as an assistant to Timely Comics’ head writer, Joe Simon,
and to artist Jack Kirby. Along the way, as he
graduated from assistant to writer, he became
known as Stan Lee and wound up revolutionizing the comic-book business: in partnership
with some of the great artists (Kirby and the
legendary Steve Ditko, among others), he created Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four,
Iron Man, and other familiar superheroes.
What made Lee’s creations special was his insistence on giving them recognizable human
traits and flaws; these weren’t idealized superheroes but real people with special abilities. This
is a solidly researched and written biography of
Lee (who is in his mid-nineties now). If it feels
familiar, it’s because Lee’s story has been told
before, in such books as Sean Howe’s glorious
Marvel Comics: The Untold Story (2012) and
Excelsior! The Amazing Life of Stan Lee (2002),
by Lee and George Mair. But don’t let that put
you off: Lee’s is a hugely entertaining story, and
the author tells it well. —David Pitt
What Is It All but Luminous: Notes from
an Underground Man.
By Art Garfunkel.
Sept. 2017. 256p. illus. Knopf, $27.95 (9780385352475).
At an early age, Garfunkel wowed his classmates, including Paul Simon, with the voice
of an angel. The two spent a lot of time
listening to records and singing, scoring a
national hit as Tom & Jerry in 1957 while
still in high school. Later, they achieved stellar fame and fortune as Simon & Garfunkel.
“My life, so far, is a two-act play,” Garfunkel
writes, “Bridge over Troubled Waters ended
Act I.” This covers Act II, from Garfunkel’s
substantial solo career to his many medita-tive walks across America and Europe and
his intense love for his family. Instead of a
conventional memoir, he presents lists and
prose poetry in an impressionistic, lyrical,
and sometimes whimsical take on fame,
singing, and aging. “I walk for simplicity, to
empty out, to come about,” he writes, and he
sings, “‘Ol’ Man River” to cows. He reveals
a sibling-like rivalry with Simon and claims
that they were “conceived at the same instant,” pondering, “who will speak at whose
funeral?” Sensitive, soulful, sharp-tongued,
and serious, Garfunkel vies for a place in the
pantheon of singers. —Ben Segedin
Crafts & Hobbies
Mittens from around Norway: Over 40
Traditional Knitting Patterns Inspired by
By Nina Granlund Saether.
Aug. 2017. 192p. illus. Trafalgar Square, $26.95
If a modern knitter were seeking a challenge
(or more than 40!), it starts here. Because, as
most needleworkers admit, using small needles, fingering yarn, and choosing multiple
colors mean following patterns with great care
and no little skill. Norwegian author Saether
has simplified as much as possible in this tribute to her country’s mittens, going far beyond
the well-known black-and-white designs attributed to Selbu to include every region.
Even without a singular dedication to the
craft, the historical documentation is fascinating. Some of the facts she shares: the Selbu
knits didn’t use ready-made patterns. Men’s
gloves feature fold-up cuffs; women’s feature
long, single-color cuffs. The patterns range
from a streamlined heavy-duty fisherman’s
glove to complex cables and images (deer and
flowers, among others). Level of difficulty is
rarely indicated; yarns, too (as she points out),
might call for U.S. substitutions. All feature
great color photographs, graphs, and abbreviated instructions. There is also a good section
on tips and techniques. This volume offers