Book Reviews

Review by Nicholas Mancusi

Drawing Blood by Molly Crabapple. New York: Harper Collins, 2015, 338 pages. Drawing Blood, a new memoir from artist, writer and activist Molly Crabapple, opens on a tense scene: Ms. Crabapple sits behind a thick barrier of soundproof glass in a Guantanamo Bay courtroom, while on the other side sits alleged 9/11 mastermind Khaled... More »

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Art in the Age of Emergence by Michael J. Pearce. Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015. 176 pages.“But what is art?” is that somewhat frustrating philosophical question that often arises at the end of the reductive process of examining art. Much art “criticism” is an exercise in converting others to one’s own particular tastes... More »

Review by Nicholas Mancusi

“Does the world embody beautiful ideas? That is the titular question of this new book by Frank Wilczek, winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics. The author poses still more important questions in his introduction: “Is the world a work of art? If it makes sense to consider the world as a work of art, is it a successful work of art? Is... More »

Review by Nicholas Mancusi

To the uninitiated, art collecting may seem like a fairly straightforward procedure: figure out how to accumulate a large amount of expendable wealth, then expend said wealth on the objets d’art that strike your fancy, then repeat as necessary. However, in Small Victories—part memoir, part user’s manual, part criticism and part... More »

Review by Frederick Turner

The traditional function of literary criticism has been something like this: to serve as a wise and knowledgeable docent or guide for a literate but not scholarly public; to unlock from distant times and con- texts the riches of our cultural heritage; and to speed the reader’s descent into the depths of what she or he is reading.It has... More »

Review by Nicholas Mancusi

What does it mean to describe something as twee? Most of us understand the adjective just well enough to employ it as a slur, a way to describe an instance of art that is a bit too cute, or too nice, or overly aesthetic, or obtusely playing dumb. It is a mostly unconsidered dismissal that can be tossed off in any direction, at most... More »

Review by Nicholas Mancusi

When, after six busy days of creation, God dusted off his hands and looked at what he had brought into being, Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that “he [had] made every-thing beautiful.” Pleasant, perhaps, but how boring it must have been. There is a reason the best-selling third part of The Divine Comedy deals with the gruesome torture of the... More »

Review by Gail Leggio

Michaelangelo: A Life on Paper by Leonard Barkan. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2011. 366 pages. This bracingly erudite study of Michelangelo (1475-1564) approaches the life and work of the Renaissance genius from a novel perspective. Leonard Barkan focuses on the paper trail, which is unusually extensive:... More »