Blasphemy - Sherman Alexie
I have been a Sherman Alexie fan ever since I read The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. I thought then, and still think, that more people should read his work. Blasphemy, (Grove, $27), a collection of new and previously published stories, is a great place to start if you have yet to discover this uniquely gifted writer. I find his stories by turns beautiful, poetic, heartbreaking, funny, scary, and real. His work is always salted with a good dash of anger—he grew up on the Spokane Indian reservation and his work reflects this experience. Alexie never backs down from the harsh realities of life on the reservation, but there is always poetry there, too (and Alexie has also published several collections of poems). His characters are often self-effacing and ravaged by deprivation, hunger, alcoholism, but are beautiful nonetheless. Alexie is a master at mixing the beautiful with the profane—and that is the essence of Blasphemy.
The Art Book: New Edition
One of things I love most about art is the fluidity of my perception of it: how it affects me can change depending on my mood, where and how I see it, and even with whom I see it. This is what I love about paging through The Art Book: New Edition (Phaidon, $59.95)—it puts art into new perspectives. Rather than listing the artists by period or genre, the book places them alphabetically. This makes for some interesting juxtapositions—a classic medieval work appears right next to a thoroughly modern sculpture, for instance. (For perhaps the ultimate juxtaposition, turn to pages 164-165.) Even familiar iconic pieces look new and different in this context; I can’t remember when an art book was this much fun. I suggest reading it with someone else, so that together you can be surprised by the serendipity of who turns up next to whom. It reminds you that art constantly amazes and can be seen in new and exciting ways.