Epstein: Artist against the Establishment by Stephen Gardiner, Flamingo pounds 8.99. This unashamedly defensive biography makes up for the abuse the artist was subjected to in his lifetime, when his sculptures provoked a catalogue of indignant responses, principally because he went against the Graeco-Roman tradition and racial purity, and looked back to the tribal art of Africa and Oceania. All the elements are there: the persecution (as artist and American Polish Jew), the bohemian lifestyle and the endlessly complicated love-life. But between the lines the reader must judge whether Jacob Epstein really was a genius and not just a petit matre.
Eve Was Framed:Women and Justice by Helena Kennedy, Vintage pounds 6.99. A lucid commentary on the shortcomings of a legal system designed by men and based on male patterns of behaviour. The descriptions of the humiliations heaped on trainee barristers undergoing the rituals of 'dining' are cheerfully comic until you realise that the products of this unreal world are often the sole line of defence between bewildered defendants and long jail sentences. Persuasive and readable.
A Mouthful of Air by Anthony Burgess, Vintage pounds 7.99. A comprehensive study of the 'buzzes, hisses, bangs and flutings' we call spoken language. The first 19 chapters deal with phonetics, linguistics from Grimm to Chomsky, and foreign idioms; the last nine with Eng Lit from the Bible to T S Eliot. Witty and erudite; also rather hard going.
Roman Cieslewicz: Master of Graphic Art by Margo Rouard Snowman, Thames & Hudson pounds 24.95. Handsome monograph (including Playboy of the Sistine Chapel, 1982, shown above) published to coincide with an exhibition of this Polish graphic artist's work at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. From ad agency and magazine work in Warsaw, Cieslewicz moved to France 30 years ago, experimenting in posters, collages and photomontages, ranging from the satiric to the fantastical, and perfecting an art of snapshots and scissors.
Unveiled: Nuns Talking by Mary Loudon, Vintage pounds 5.99. When the author fell in love with an Anglican priest at 18, she was advised to go and talk to a nun about it. Her initial suspicions were soon dispelled by the openness, intelligence and integrity she encountered. Here she talks to more nuns, some living in strict enclosure, others who work (including an Aids counsellor). A thought-
provoking collection of autobiographies which challenges post-Freudian assumptions that sexual satisfaction equals happiness.
The Call of the Toad by Gunter Grass, trs Ralph Manheim, Penguin &5.99. A Polish widow and a German widower fall in love and share a vision of a 'Cemetery of Reconciliation', a place that may lay the ghosts of the past to rest and reveal new horizons of unity. Slowly, though, as other's greed and the Deutschmark intrude themselves, the dream is compromised. The mixture of satire and romance makes a brave, if not altogether satisfactory, addition to the Grass pantheon.
The 100 Mile City by Deyan Sudjic, Flamingo pounds 7.99. Provocative study of modern urban life, which begs us to stop and think. The metropolis, once centred around the cathedral, palace and parliament square, is being transformed into a concrete sprawl of hypermarkets, business parks and leisure complexes. London, Paris, New York, Tokyo and Los Angeles are treated to an incisive analysis.
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