20 Booklist February 15, 2016 www.booklistreader.com
main narrative chronicles the difficulties of
independent filmmaking, where financing
wobbles and cast and crew sometimes have
to defer their salaries until . . . well, perhaps
forever. MacLaine, never one to avoid writing about others, says she’s changed some
names, but a quick check of IMDB, and you
can probably figure out who’s who. The unpredictability of showbiz doesn’t always mesh
as clearly as MacLaine thinks with her other
focus, the demise of Atlantis. Wild Oats was
shot primarily in the Canary Islands, thought
to be a remnant of the lost continent.
MacLaine claims that many of the cast and
crew felt an otherworldly pull, but it’s her
own recollections of her time in ancient
history that are interspersed throughout.
Though this is mostly for MacLaine followers—and especially the subset of that
group with their own New Age bent—the
sausage-making aspect of the movie story
may also attract more mainstream film buffs.
The Guardian of Mercy: How an
Extraordinary Painting by Caravaggio
Changed an Ordinary Life Today.
By Terence Ward.
Feb. 2016. 200p. Arcade, $24.99 (9781628725926);
e-book (9781628726305). 759.5.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio,
known simply as Caravaggio, was one of
the greatest artists of the sixteenth century.
The Seven Works of Mercy (1607), one of his
most memorable paintings, hangs in a small
church in Naples. On a single canvas, Caravaggio depicts feeding the hungry, sheltering
the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting
prisoners, giving water to the thirsty, burying the dead, and healing the sick. Contrary
to the custom of the times, the renegade
artist used ordinary Neapolitans as models.
Ward (Searching for Hassan, 2002) interweaves the story of that now-iconic painting
with the story of Rafaelle, an employee of
the city of Naples whose job it is to guard it.
Ward encountered both the masterpiece and
the man who was transformed by his connection with it on a visit to his wife’s native
Italy, and has written an absorbing account
of the powerful experience. The narrative
moves back and forth between Caravaggio’s
time and the present in prose as colorful and
compelling as the painting itself. Anyone
interested in art and its power to change
lives will appreciate this thoughtful work.
How Music Dies (or Lives): Field
Recording and the Battle for Democracy
in the Arts.
By Ian Brennan.
Feb. 2016. 208p. illus. Allworth, paper, $16.99
Grammy-winning record producer and
world-traveler Brennan, full of ideas and
opinions, presents a hefty, bracing tome
overstuffed with trenchant observations
and anecdotes on the homogenization of
music and the democratization of art. The
102 short chapters address everything from
consumerism to aural culture. All music,
Brennan insists, is local music. He persua-
sively makes his case that music, more than
any other art form, can be a salve for the
wounded soul. One Adele song, he sug-
gests, has done more to help people through
heartache “than the entire history of psy-
chiatry.” He recalls how, when working in a
psychiatric emergency room, a middle-aged
woman suffering from schizophrenia who
refused to speak or make eye contact, was
mesmerized by footage of Springsteen per-
forming “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)”
Interspersed throughout are anecdotes about
Brennan’s experiences with field recordings
from Rwanda to Vietnam. He concludes by
making some concrete suggestions on how
to make music matter again in our own
lives, which can be as simple as listening
to one song a day in a different language.
Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a
By William Shatner and David Fisher.
Feb. 2016. 288p. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne, $25.99
(9781250083319); e-book (9781250083326). 791.45.
Shatner, the legendary actor who brought
Captain Kirk to life in Star Trek, pays tribute
to his lifelong best friend, Leonard Nimoy,
who portrayed the iconic Mr. Spock, in this
memoir-biography hybrid. Both actors were
born in 1931, and both surprised their religious Jewish families by deciding to pursue
careers in acting. Nimoy established himself
as a character actor, making a career out of
playing villains until Star Trek’s creator, Gene
Roddenberry, remembering Nimoy from a
guest spot in another show, handpicked him
to play Mr. Spock, the taciturn half-Vulcan.
Shatner is candid about the evolution of his
friendship with Nimoy: they started out on set
as colleagues who occasionally clashed, in part
because Nimoy, rather than Shatner, became
the breakout star on the show. After Star Trek
was canceled in 1969, they went their separate ways, but fan conventions and six feature
films brought them back together and forged
a deep friendship between them. Touching on
Nimoy’s other pursuits, including his photography, poetry, writing, and directing, Shatner
offers up a lovely and moving tribute to his
beloved friend. —Kristine Huntley
YA: The new generation of Star Trek fans
will enjoy Shatner’s recollections of his
friendship with Nimoy. KH.
Sports & Recreation
Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian.
By Anthony Ervin and Constantine
Apr. 2016. 300p. illus. Akashic/Edge of Sports, paper,
$15.95 (9781617754449); e-book (9781617754647).
Ervin was a phenomenon: a half-Jewish,
half–African American swimmer; a multiple
Olympic medal winner (gold in 2000 and,
amazingly, a contender in 2012); the “fastest
man in the world” in water. He sold the gold
medal to raise money for tsunami relief after
Indonesia was destroyed. Markides smartly
combines his own journalistic account with
a parallel narrative in which Ervin, a maverick with Tourette’s syndrome, explains
his life and style. Some talents simply defy
explanation, however, and Ervin may be in
that category. The story of his spiritual quest
(which drifted into a kind of personal decline) following the 2000 Olympics is dealt
with in too much detail, as Ervin works his
way through drugs, motorcycles, tattoos,
music, Zen, and other religions in search of
that elusive something. Still, the story of his
comeback at 31 (ancient for a swimmer) is
rendered more amazing by the contrast with
what went before. This volume introduces
Akashic’s new Edge of Sports imprint, which
promises to offer a hip and very different take
on athletes and their worlds. —Mark Levine
Earnhardt Nation: The Full-Throttle Saga
of NASCAR’s First Family.
By Jay Busbee.
Feb. 2016. 352p. illus. Harper, $26.99 (9780062367716).
The Earnhardt family is NASCAR royalty.
The original racing Earnhardt, Ralph, began competing on the dirt tracks of North
Carolina 60 years ago. His son, Dale Sr., was
known as the Intimidator. He was the most
dominant and idolized driver of his generation. His death in the 2001 Daytona 500
devastated racing fans. Ralph’s grandson,
Dale Jr., stepped into his father’s shoes and
became one of the most popular drivers of
the 2000s. Busbee, the primary NASCAR
writer for Yahoo! Sports, does an excellent job
with exciting accounts of races and anecdotes
about the two Dales, culled from first-person
interviews and extensive research. He also
provides context about the very insular
NASCAR world, where drivers’ moves from
racing team to racing team are often awash
with cloak-and-dagger intrigue (including
Dale Jr.’s controversial move from the racing
team he and his father founded to a competitor). There are more real-life subplots,
rivalries, and betrayals on the NASCAR
circuit than in the average reality TV show,
and Busbee brings them to vivid life in this
fun and fascinating account of the NASCAR
world. — Wes Lukowsky
Peregrine Spring: A Master Falconer’s
Extraordinary Life with Birds of Prey.
By Nancy Cowan.
Mar. 2016. 320p. Lyons, $26.95 (9781493017706).
The ancient art of falconry requires a highly trained partnership between human and
raptor. Even a captive-bred hawk or falcon
is not a domestic animal, and learning to
trust and work with the falconer requires
a delicate balance of instinct and training.