Monday, October 24, 2011

Wicker Park

Marketa Sivek, Soo Kim Chang, Kevin Lahvic, James Monroe, Charlie Rees, Mary Andrus ATR, LCPC, Vis-A-Vis Art Gallery, and Collaboraction Theater are just some of the 50 artists and entities renting space in the Flat Iron Arts Building in Wicker Park. The First Fridays event allows visitors to see some of the studios which are open to the public between 6-10 pm. When I was in the building this past Friday however (technically the third Friday), the only people there were a maintenance man on a ladder and an artist who took me up in the rickety elevator. The initial thrill of having the entire place nearly to myself was quickly overshadowed by locked doors and (but for my footsteps) quiet hallways. Occasionally, I heard music and smelled cigarette smoke coming from inside one of the studios and I tried to imagine what was being created at that moment. All was not lost, though - I was able to peek inside some of the work spaces that had glass windows and quite a few art works with corresponding prices hung on the corridor walls. I came to this building with friends many years ago for Around the Coyote (sadly, cancelled in 2010), and the memory of the stifling crowds and heat back then convinced me that my recent experience was the better of the two.

I was happy that Derrick, the owner of The Bongo Room, remembered me. Over fifteen years ago, friends and I would wander in for breakfast burritos at the restaurant's original location wedged under the Blue Line El tracks in Wicker Park. It has long since moved from its original location to a bigger space down the street on Milwaukee (where I stopped in on Friday) and there is another one in the Loop. Content after catching up with Derrick and making short work of a beef tenderloin baguette sandwich accompanied by Saint Andre cheese, watercress apple relish, and horseradish aioli, I began the 3.5 mile hike up to Lakeview (my old neighborhood) to see The Mill and the Cross (see prior post). Walking along Ashland, which is decidedly unlovely in parts (e.g. one section is an industrial corridor over a branch of the Chicago River), I crossed a couple of bridges and passed by the now-closed Green Dolphin Street, one of my favorite jazz spots from way back, which is now open for special events. [The other great "Green" jazz place is The Green Mill in Uptown, still going strong after nearly 100 years.]

Things got brighter as I approached Prescott Elementary School further north on Ashland. Sunlight reflecting off gold and silver mosaic tiles of an outdoor mural on the school's wall caught my eye. I later learned that the school children work with artists in Green Star Movement to design personalized murals that reflect their ethnic backgrounds and ties to the community. A detailed shot (above right) of an interior music-themed mural was taken by chef Alan Lake. Tesserae treasures created by budding Gustav Klimts.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Mill and the Cross

If you've ever wondered what it would be like to be inside of a painting rather than to merely gaze at one from without, The Mill and the Cross places you right in the midst of 1564 Flanders, with Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Rutger Hauer!) as your guide. Inspired by a spider spinning its web, we follow along as Bruegel describes the creative process behind his masterpiece, The Procession to Calvary, to his wealthy patron and friend, played by Michael York. Among the most interesting of these imagined revelations was the artist's decision to reverse the stature accorded to the figures of Christ and the miller.

During the course of the film, you are privy to quiet, intimate scenes of Flemish daily life. There are also harsher scenes depicting religious persecution of the Flemish Protestants by the Spanish Catholics, a parallel to the painting's theme of Christ's crucifixion. Of the 500 characters depicted in the art work, we follow the stories of a handful of people. If the action were to freeze at any of these moments, you can imagine the scene captured in any one of Bruegel's famously character-filled paintings. In fact, the action does "stop" near the end of the film, and the camera withdraws as the tableau vivant transforms into the painting as it hangs on the wall of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna today. A merciful lack of incessant dialogue or music reinforced the film's atmosphere. For me, it was also a more intimate experience because there were just a few of us in the smaller, less flamboyant, screening room of The Music Box theater.

The Mill and the Cross premiered at Sundance to much acclaim and has been shown at numerous film festivals throughout the year. The multi-faceted Polish director, Lech Majewski, also produced and co-wrote the film. As if that were not enough, he was also the cinematographer, the music arranger, and the illustrator of the drawings of The Procession which appear in the film. Majewski said that he had always been captivated by the Bruegel painting and imagined living inside of it. The film was a labor of love beginning three years ago. It was worth the wait. Perhaps the film will inspire museum-goers to spend more time with individual paintings - each with their own unique stories - and thus, honor them with the full attention and appreciation they merit.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Queen to Play (Joueuse)

If chess isn't your game, Queen to Play (Joueuse) just might pique your interest enough to get you to pull out that chessboard and give it a go. If you're already a fan, you'll probably appreciate the game even more. The film stars Sandrine Bonnaire (one of the loveliest names you may ever hear), Jennifer Beals (!) in a sexy, protagonist-altering cameo appearance, and a non-hammy Kevin Kline in his first French-speaking role. I don't know about you, but I rather like when American actors step out of their comfort zones and leap into something new. It has worked extremely well for Kristen Scott Thomas in the French films I have seen her in, particularly Tell No One and Leaving.

The setting is Corsica. A woman (Helene) rescues herself from continuing to live a nondescript life by falling in love with chess. In a critical early scene, she observes the seductive power a beautiful woman has over her lover by playing - and ultimately winning - the game. Thereafter, she persuades her employer (the reclusive, sad Kline) to teach her to play better. Helene eventually becomes so good that she wins a local amateur championship, but not without some predictable strife with her husband and daughter along the way.

Though some films are better seen on a big screen, I have found that I prefer to view the majority of them on a smaller TV screen and on DVD. One of the advantages to doing the latter is the extras and bonuses you can enjoy in addition to the movie. In this case, I watched interviews with some of the cast and crew as well as actual chess tournaments in which older players were losing to 10-year-olds and teenagers played against each other in blindingly fast blitz chess. [I freely admit that over the summer, my six-year-old nephew and I played chess and yes, he beat me a couple of times!] The chess club president of Corsica said that the game is practically taught as a subject in the grade schools, not just because of the elegance of the game itself, but because of the discipline, thought, consideration for others, inter-generational friendships, and gamesmanship it inspires. Perhaps non-Corsicans, young and old alike, would benefit from mastering this game. I know I want to brush up on mine.

Chess, anyone?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fine Art and Fair Trade Coffee

Avoiding school groups and scores of others taking advantage of the two free Wednesdays per month at the Art Institute of Chicago can prove to be a challenge. Arriving right when it opens feels like you may have gotten a jump on things, but only if you hasten to lesser-frequented areas of the museum.

If you can determine where the crowds are heading, you can head in the other direction and spend quality time (as I did) with rooms of Manet, Pissarro, Courbet, and Degas all to yourself. Likewise, with the exquisite little Daumier bronze series, Celebrities of the Juste Milieu. I swear, I laughed at some of the expressions on their faces and only the guards looked askance at me. In another wing, I was alone with some works of Arthur Dove and Marsden Hartley (two personal favorites), and some pretty O'Keeffee paintings.

In another gallery, an exhibition of Cy Twombly sculptures left me appreciating his paintings even more.

I'd never taken advantage of the docent tours that most museums offer until today. I rather enjoyed the Everyday Objects express tour, during which we learned the history behind an 1820s hand-painted trinket box; a grandfather clock with intricate scenes from Maine's history; a beaded Crow Indian cradle; and a Maidu Indian hand-woven cooking basket.

I took a break after this tour to meet a Sotheby's classmate for coffee and a cookie at Intelligentsia. Be advised: the coffee may cause swooning.

Back at the museum, I took advantage of another free tour of the highlights of the Modern Wing, which opened in 2009. The knowledgeable, entertaining docent asked our group provocative questions about Matisse's Bathers by a River; Picasso's Blue Period The Old Guitarist and the Cubist Portrait of Kahnweiler (upper left); Kandinsky's Improvisation No. 30 (Cannons); Conrad Felixmuller's unsettling The Death of the Poet Walter Rheiner; another Matisse; David Hockney's The Collectors; a Robert Smithson piece; Michelangelo Pistoletti's Girl Drawing; and Felix Gonzalez-Torrez' moving Portrait of Ross, a work which consisted of 170 pounds of candy piled up in a corner, and one of many thoughtful pieces in his eponymous gallery. It was energizing to engage with the works this way - often, I tend not to spend too much time with them. It was refreshing to be reminded that there is always something new to be gained by truly seeing the art.

Still feeling energized, I explored exhibitions and galleries in the museum that are off my usual Art Institute beaten path. For instance, I was reluctant to visit Windows on the War: Soviet TASS Posters at Home and Abroad 1941-1945, but I pushed myself to view the ghastly propaganda posters anyway. I didn't like being alone in some of the rooms where I felt very uncomfortable with the violent imagery and hatred. I avoided the Belligerent Encounters exhibition, which embraced a similar theme, for this reason. Who needs more of those kinds of encounters when everyday life provides us with quite enough of them? Still, I felt that they deserved a view. Not all art is lovely.

I went through the photography gallery downstairs (I especially liked a Lewis Carroll portrait of a young girl), the Thorne Miniature Rooms, and the Arthur Rubloff paperweight collection. I really love the French millefiori examples. The Mitsubishi Gallery of Japanese, Chinese, and Korean Art revealed lovely celadons, Tang Dynasty pieces, and earthenware strikingly similar to some art work of the Pacific Northwest Indians. I enjoyed the calming Alsdorf Gallery of Hindu, Buddhist, and Islamic Art. The renovated galleries are such a welcome change from the war-like, murky, weapon-laden rooms of old. Now, it's light and airy and the statues of gods appear to float in the open space.

At this point, I'd been indoors for much longer than I wanted to be, considering that the curtain is likely to come down soon on our gorgeous October fall weather. I hastened outdoors to take advantage of what remained of the warm, sunny day.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

September in Prague

Prague never lets you go… this dear little mother has sharp claws. –Franz Kafka

A month ago, I was in the capital of the Czech Republic to meet with friends and interview with future colleagues about a teaching position at one of the universities there. I also wanted to explore other opportunities to teach and write. The city is as lovely, melancholy, and spooky (alchemy, defenestration, the Golem and all) as I remember it from several visits during the early 90s, but with one noticeable difference: the staggering number of tourists that throng the central medieval streets and squares. Once you leave the most well-trodden paths, however, you are either mingling with residents or quite suddenly alone.

Prague was spared WWII’s destruction and it remains an architecture lover’s dream no matter what style or period. I explored two Gothic castles, several Romanesque and Baroque cathedrals, and a Renaissance palace; walked over medieval bridges (the most famous is the Karlov); admired a series of Cubist houses; and had coffee at three Art Nouveau coffee shops (Café Louvre, the Grand Café Orient, and the most exquisite – Obecni Dum). I wandered through the history of Czech art at the impressive, Functionalist-style National Gallery (please see my post below for a review of a show there), and saw two photography shows – one at the Gothic/Baroque/Neo-Baroque (!) House at the Stone Bell Tower, and the other in the Neo-Gothic Old Town City Hall. For those whose architectural taste runs to the contemporary (but why would you be in Prague then?), observe the 1996 Deconstructionist Nationale-Nederlanden Building, more popularly known as Dancing House because it suggests a cheek-to-cheek Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers swaying to music only they can hear. The building was co-designed by Vlado Milunic and Frank Gehry and is located on the east bank of the Vltava River.

If the architecture isn’t enough to keep the average Josef/Josefina content, there is no lack of cultural events to partake of indoors in Prague. I made the most of my five days to see as much as I possibly could, both outdoors and indoors. At the Municipal Library, I saw an exhibition about Czech avant garde painters from the 1930s and ‘40s. At St. Nicholas Church in the Old Town Square, I enjoyed a free concert given by Choir Inter Nos, a fantastic men’s group from The Netherlands. Their eclectic repertoire included songs from Handel's Messiah, from Mozart and Verdi, a song or two from Africa, The Rhythm of Life, and even something from the musical, Cats. After some searching, I eventually found Josef Sudek’s original atelier, which is now a landmark.

Back outside, after touring the grounds of the Vysehrad castle, I made a special visit to the adjoining cemetery in which famous Czech artists have been laid to rest. Many of the monuments and headstones were created by well-known sculptors and are some of the most beautiful I've ever seen. Later, after the short funicular ride up to Petrin forest, I walked downhill through the winding streets that surround Prague’s main castle. I stopped at the tiny Josef Sudek gallery. Several descending switchbacks on yet more tiny cobble-stoned streets, I arrived at the relative sanctuary of Wallenstein Garden, complete with live owls, white peacocks, dripping rock formations amid grottos, and the requisite hedgerows and fountains.

Kafka's quote above is quite true. After each visit, Prague's mystique expands to encompass your experiences there - both real and imagined.

Here's “Talking at You” - The Fusion Art of Shalom Tomas Neuman in Prague

Prague-born, Brooklyn-based Shalom Tomas Neuman’s exhibition, “Talking at You” was recently on view at the National Gallery in Prague.. The exhibition has since traveled to various venues within Prague, including the American Center, Galerie La Femme, Franz Kafka Museum, TINA B Contemporary Art Festival, and Artistic Pottery & NOVITO.
Neuman describes his work as “Fusion Art,” which “combin[es] color, motion, and sound into a multidisciplinary, multisensory extravaganza aimed at appealing to more than just the visual sense…it reflects and comments on a world…seriously out of joint and in need of repair.” In his latest series entitled Amerika, Neuman gives the featured 34 pieces ordinary names like Paul, Larry, and Elsie. They are portraits of everyday people made of a variety of found objects combined in ways that appeal to all the senses. Some of the portraits even “speak” as you walk by, providing commentary on topics such as unemployment, the environment, and religion. The contrast of the colorful, almost toy-like faces with the messages they emit is startling.
In addition to employing the concept of Fusion Art in his own work, Neuman invites other artists to join in the creative process as well. Two performances connected to the exhibition took place on September 5 at HUB Praha and on September 8 at the National Gallery. Both featured collaborations between New York-based performance art group, The Unbearables, and Prague-based members of PEN Praha. During the latter event, it slowly became clear that something was happening or about to happen when one member of The Unbearables began to disrobe and tape and bind herself as a statement about freedom (or the lack thereof) in countries of the world represented by flags which she arranged to suggest that they were suffocating her. Other members of The Unbearables staged themselves throughout the exhibition space and began to sing or play musical instruments. It was often unclear who was part of the show until something spontaneous and unusual happened and caused a crowd to gather. PEN Praha performers read aloud from books and others recited poetry, encouraging interaction with the listeners, gently forcing the audience to become active participants instead of passive onlookers.
Throughout the evening, a neurologist friend of the artist’s walked through the gallery spraying scent and distributing incense sticks. She said that she had helped to coordinate all the sensory experiences of the show in keeping with Neuman’s wish to present his work in a stimulating environment designed to engage 100% of the viewer’s attention, a goal that was achieved from what I experienced.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Films I've Seen in the Past 18 Months

Greetings! You have asked about films (and books - please see the below post) I've enjoyed since 1 April 2010.  Here they are, in no particular order. I have bolded those I recommend and would or have seen several times. Paris, Texas; The Seventh Seal; Berlin, Alexanderplatz; Paris, Je t’aime; El Norte; Damage; The History Boys; At Play in the Fields of the Lord; The Social Network; My Life So Far; Until the End of the World; A Prophet; Somewhere; Sunset Boulevard; Certified Copy; Citizen Kane; The King’s Speech; Ladies in Lavender; Bright Young Things; Tea With Mussolini; Capitalism: A Love Story; Idiocracy; V for Vendetta; Good Bye, Lenin!; Gigi; Munich; Heavenly Creatures; Amores Perros; Hiroshima, Mon Amour; The Red Violin; It Might Get Loud; Closely Watched (Observed) Trains; The Last Station;  Chinatown; Please Give; In the Mood for Love; The Other Boleyn Girl; Talk to Her; Harry Brown; Man on Wire; The Pianist; Night and Fog; Mid-August Lunch; Black Swan; After the Wedding; Made in Dagenham; Danzon; My Name is Khan; The Edge of Heaven; The Red Shoes; A Good Year; The Turning Point; Innocence; La Buche; Close-UpA Christmas Tale; The Passenger; Heaven; The Traveler; A Single Man; L’Avventura; The Piano Teacher; New York, I Love You; The Flight of the Red Balloon; Waiting for Superman; Knife in the Water; Greenberg; Othello; Eat, Pray, Love; Blow-Up; Trois Coleurs; The Double Life of Veronique; Before Sunset; The Unbearable Lightness of Being; Abres Los Ojos; The Headless Woman; The Third Man; Inside Job; A Man and a Woman; All My Good Countrymen; Wild Strawberries; You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger; Persona; Born Into Brothels; The Last Metro; Elegy; Perfume; Lust Caution; Breathless; Coco Avant Chanel; La Haine; Amelie; The Decalogue; No End; Bungalow; Masquerade; Bright Star; Tous Les Matins du Monde; Casa de Los Babys; Delicatessen; La Dolce Vita; 2 Days in Paris; Hollywood Ending; Far Away, So Close!; Meantime; Julian Assange; Death of a Cyclist; The Convent; Frantic; Rififi; La Femme Nikita; The Day the Earth Stood Still (remake); Blame it on Fidel!; The Conversation; Babel; Chloe; Inglourious Basterds; Hideaway (Le Refuge); Inspector Bellamy; The Moon in the Gutter; Waste Land; La Nana (The Maid); Hidden Love; Man Push Cart; Moon; I am Love; In Brugges; Fish Tank; Radiant Child; Fire; Persepolis; Fair Game; The Oxford Murders; Temple Grandin; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Brush with Fate; Goya’s Ghosts; Breaking and Entering; Leaving; Transit Café; 400 Blows; Year of the Quiet Sun; A Couch in New York; Taste of Cherry; L'Argent de Poche; Beyond the Clouds; 8 Femmes; The Wrong Man; Home; L’Enfer; Notorious; Blind Chance (Przypadek); Manon of the Spring; Angel; Irma Vep; A King in New York; Dogs Decoded; A Woman of Paris; Mademoiselle Chambon; Swimming Pool; Pickpocket; Dogville; The Red Balloon; Badlands; Once; Days of Heaven; Day Break; Science of Sleep; Twenty-four Eyes; A Thousand Years of Good Prayers; Kings of Pastry; Up in the Air; All Good Things; L’homme du train; M; Sylvia; Bernard and Doris; Disengagement; Jane Eyre; Blue Valentine; The Kids Are All Right; Iron Jawed Angels; Lacombe, Lucien; Starting Out in the Evening; Everlasting Moments; Kolya; Boogie Woogie; Chocolat (Claire Denis); Another Year; Mulholland Drive; Summer in Genoa; L.I.E.; Farewell; Gosford Park; Exit Through the Gift Shop; Hanna; Naked; Midnight in Paris; Joyeux Noel; Camera Buff (Amator); Georgia O’Keeffe; Romulus, My Father; The Valet; White Material; Strange Culture; Life During Wartime; Marjorie Morningstar; Silent Light; Whiskey Romeo Zulu; The Leopard; If; Snow Angels; Underground; The Scar; Bitter Moon; Bill Cunningham New York; Angels & Insects; The American Friend; My Dog Tulip; Kings and Queen; The Killing; Stolen Kisses; Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench; Conceiving Ada; Limitless; Factory Girl; Die Fremde (When We Leave); The Good German; Killer’s Kiss; Solo Sunny; The Last Days of Disco; Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky; True Grit (remake); Five Easy Pieces; Road to Nowhere; You the Living; Cinema Paradiso; Clean; Copying Beethoven; The Lives of Others; Songs from the Second Floor; Unknown; Stephanie’s Image; 101 Nights; The Black Book; Death of Mr. Lazarescu; Cassandra’s Dream; The Air I Breathe; Effi Briest; Still Life; Incendiary; Dead Man; Memento; and Sexy Beast.

Books I've Read in the Past 18 Months

You have asked about what I've been reading. Bolded titles are those I recommend and/or would read again. [In some cases, I've already read read them at least once before.] I have faith that the bibliophile and Google-phile in you can successfully identify the authors. The Berlin Diaries; Timbuktu; The Berlin Stories; Saturday; Once Upon a Time in the East; People with Problems; Amsterdam; To the Wedding;  A Year in Provence; Orfeo; What’s Bred in the Bone; Idioglossia; The Sufferings of Young Werther; Fatherland; A Room of One’s Own; Tropic of Cancer; Tuesdays with Morrie; The Weimar Culture; White Teeth; Stories from God; Cannery Row; A Moveable Feast; Blackberry Wine; Galileo’s Daughter; Miss Julie; What’s Eating Gilbert Grape; Berlin – The City and the Court;  The Spy Who Came in from the Cold; Enduring Love; When to Walk; A Reliable Wife; Swan; Alone in Berlin; Stasiland; Revolutionary Road; Great Expectations; Old School; Bird by Bird; Flaubert’s Parrot; On Chesil Beach; The Glass Palace; The Innocent; Two Lives; Black Dogs; In the Place of Fallen Leaves; Small Island; The Impressionist;  The Golden Notebook; Fruit of the Lemon; The Faith of a Writer; Creativity; The Mind’s Eye; Blond; The Secret of Chanel No. 5; On Writing; The Museum of Innocence; Writers in Paris; A Visit from the Goon Squad; Walks With Men; Russian Winter; Enlightened Sexism; The Imperfectionists; Fame; Paris Tales; Perfect Reader; Lush Life; Solar; Soul Mining; Pensees; Lost & Found in Russia; Indiana; Broken; The Year of the Flood; A Lily of the Field; Hector and the Search for Happiness; The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers; I See Rude People; Lonely Planet/Paris; Imperial Bedrooms; Year of the Hare; Beatrice & Virgil; All Is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost; Dear Money; Sunset Park; Memory Wall; Bird Cloud; Juliet; Repetition; The Poet; Double Lives, Second Chances; Edible Stories; The Box; 5th Avenue 5 am; The Gordian Knot; Lost Horizon; The Last Chinese Chef; An American Tragedy; A Cup of Light; The Elephant’s Journey; Lost in Translation; The Dead Lie Down; The Art of Memory; Breakfast at Tiffany’s; Specters; Audrey Hepburn; Down and Out in Paris and London; Crossing; Encounter; Watermark; The Finkelstein Question; The Convent; The Passion; The Typist; Reading Women; Songs of Blood and Swords; Snowdrops; Through the Language Glass; Invisible River; Nine Lives; Enough About Love; Chasing Vermeer; The Weekend; Medium Raw; The Paris Wife; Portobello; The Dreamseller; The Charming Quirks of Others; Late for Tea at the Deer Palace; The Thieves of Manhattan; The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas; The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay; The Fates Will Find Their Way; An Object of Beauty; Think Positive; The Sunday Philosophy Club; My Reading Life; The Shallows; The “S” Word; Brown-Eyed Girl; The Dewey Decimal System; The Tree; What Would Jane Say?; The Silent Land; Heart of the City; The Ghost in Love; On the Road to Babadag; 12 Steps to a Compassionate Life; The Paper Garden; Double Happiness; Walking to Hollywood; Visitation; Nine; Player One; Is Journalism Worth Dying For?; The Petting Zoo; The Bell Jar; Irretrievable; Intern Nation; Life on Sandpaper; Prep: A Novel; Flower Confidential; Women, Work, and the Art of Savoir Faire; On Tangled Paths; Netsuke: A Novel; The History of History; Bad Marie: A Novel; The Art of Memory; The Tiger’s Wife; Radio Shangri-La; Pulse; A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True; Tea of Ulaanbaatar; How Proust Can Change Your Life; No Regrets: The Life of Edith Piaf; The Architecture of Happiness; In the Garden of the Beasts; The Art of Travel; The Optimism Bias; The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work; Twice Born; My Life and Captivity in Iran; A Good Hard Look; Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven; Ten Thousand Saints; Motivation and Personality; Robinson Crusoe; Utz; Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives; I am a Japanese Writer; A Week at the Airport;  Prague: A Cultural and Literary History; Bossypants; The Unbearable Lightness of Being; How to Listen to Great Music; Inside a US Embassy; Bonjour Tristesse; Lonely Planet - Prague; Status Anxiety; Culture Shock! Czech Republic; Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia; Little Bee; On Love; Open City: A Novel; In Praise of Idleness; La Seduction: How the French Play the Game of Life; The Consolations of Philosophy; 1493: Uncovering the New World; Consider the Lobster; Rough Guides to Prague (2); The Tao of Travel; My American Unhappiness; Can You Get Hooked on Lip Balm?; The Spiral Staircase; Prague Tales; The Convalescent; The Botany of Desire; Are Men Necessary?; The Language of Flowers; Lee Krasner: An Autobiography; A Romantic Education; Kieslowski on Kieslowski; No Saints or Angels; Daniel Stein, Interpreter; The Captive Mind; Black Lamb and Grey Falcon; Headhunters; Hector and the Secrets of Love; Paris Was Ours; and Stone Arabia.