June 17, 2018
VISIBLE EMPIRE By Hannah Pittard
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25
In the midst of the Civil Rights movement in the South, Atlanta suffered her most devastating loss since Major General William T. Sherman burned her to the ground. On June 3, 1962, Air France Flight 007 was leaving Paris and crashed upon takeoff at Orly Airport. More than 100 of Atlanta’s wealthiest and most prominent residents were on board, none of whom survived. At the time, it was the world’s worst air disaster involving a single aircraft. The only survivors were two flight attendants.
Pittard takes us through the accident and introduces us to fictional characters, who have all suffered some sort of loss, and weaves a multi-point of view narrative about loss, grief, love, class and race, that’s perfectly fit for a six-episode HBO miniseries or a day at the pool. It is by no means light — how could it be? — but the good soapy kind of drama is all right there waiting for you.
– Emily Gatlin
SOCCER STYLE: THE MAGIC AND MADNESS By Simon Doonan
Laurence King Publishing, $30
Just in time for sport’s greatest quadrennial economic pig out, the World Cup, Simon Doonan, Fashion Arbiter Extraordinaire, and the man who made Barneys the first trendy department store, has published his missive on soccer and style. It’s a subject hitherto under-examined, and this book corrects that. It’s humorous, warm and as good a history of soccer’s sartorial evolution and — no tittering here — influence on men’s style as one could ever get. And it’s got a staggering amount of photos which, for the fan, is a smorgasbord of delights and nostalgia.
Fortunately it doesn’t dwell only on the mostly faux attitude and calculated plumage of today’s wealthy superstars. Gloriously it dips into history, back to the primordial Sixties when Irish soccer genius George Best, arguably the greatest player of all time, transformed the sport, more off the pitch than even on it. When he came along, players were essentially blue collar laborers, paid an average wage and of no more interest to sponsors than regional bus drivers. He became known as the Fifth Beatle, which is kind of lopsided because he was more popular than them at the time, more of a rockstar, more desired by women and emblematic of the Swinging Sixties, and the Fab Four more wanted to be him than the other way around. He dressed the part, drove the cars, set the pace for for future sports gods. Before there was Beckham and his confused soup of athleticism, hairstyles and couture, and before Ronaldo waxed himself, Best was the beautiful game’s first beautiful guy.
– Bob Guccione, Jr.
AT MY TABLE: A CELEBRATION OF HOME COOKING By Nigella Lawson
Flatiron Books, $35
When it comes to cooking and women, there’s one woman, who, I’ve admitted to my wife, I’ve daydreamed about being in my kitchen: Nigella Lawson.
Lawson has always championed for the home cook, reminding us in an overwhelming food culture where ingredients are over-sourced (I don’t care where my chicken comes from) and dishes are over-described (I truly don’t care if my polenta is artisanal), that cooking should be fun and sensual; it’s an adventure, not a piece for display in a museum.
Nigella’s latest book continues to inspire the home cook to expand their repertoire with simple recipes: Mussels with Pasta and Tomatoes; Chile Cheese Garlic Bread; Coconut Shrimp; Pork with Prunes, Olives and Capers.
And what would be a Nigella Lawson cookbook without the sweets? Rhetorical question. This book gives us Warm Blondie Pudding Cake, Emergency Brownies, Sunken Chocolate Amaretto Cake….
I plan on mastering many of these dishes. Nigella, perhaps you’d like to come over and try some? There’s always room, at my table. My wife won’t mind.
– Jason Stahl
LITTLE GUIDES TO GREAT LIVES By Isabel Thomas
Laurence King Publishing, $12
Did you know Amelia Earhart first saw an airplane at the Iowa State Fair in 1908? (She wasn’t impressed.) Or that, also in 1908, Marie Curie became the first female professor at the Sorbonne? Or that Nelson Mandela’s birth name was Rolihlahla, which loosely translates to “troublemaker”? And that Leonardo da Vinci was curious how the tongue of a woodpecker worked?
I didn’t. Laurence King’s Little Guides to Great Lives series features the most inspiring, creative, fearless and imaginative minds. These accessible biographies might be targeted at 7 to 11-year-olds, but as a 40-year-old, I was just as fascinated with them as my 6-year-old, who ranks the Amelia Earhart guide as his favorite. I wish I could tell you more about these phenomenal figures from history, but my son took them all.