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Walt does not do Facebook. But he would love to share a favorite book, meet you face to face, and "friend" you in person. He neither tweets nor twerks. But he is open to all suggestions for other new experiences... especially if they involve food or film. You will oftentimes find him in the Arts section of Changing Hands Phoenix.
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Black Dolls: Unique African American Dolls, 1850-1930 from the Collection of Deborah Neff Cover Image
By Frank Maresca (Editor), Margo Jefferson (Text by (Art/Photo Books)), Faith Ringgold (Text by (Art/Photo Books))
ISBN: 9781934435892
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Radius Books - April 28th, 2015

This is a book of love stories. There is the evident love and caring that the makers lavished on their creations, their attention to detail and choice of materials. But the love so generously given by the dolls' small owners is equally apparent....sometimes to the point of broken disrepair and near destruction. (Being destroyed by hugs would not be the worst of ways to go!) Each doll is unique in its construction and personality. I challenge you to not create stories as you page through this book. Impossible. Beautifully photographed, the book is also lovingly constructed. I was taken by the ragged stitch work left along the edges of the cover which compliments the character of the images inside.

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Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780061713804
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - May 5th, 2015

It's been a while since I have read a novel inhabited by such a beguiling group of exotic and wonderfully decadent characters. The setting is 1930's Paris. Change is afoot in Europe. Hitler is stirring things up next door. But life in Paris continues to be a party for those wealthy, titled, or talented enough to be invited to attend. Prose deftly unfolds the biographies of her characters...and I found every one of the storylines mesmerizing. This is fascinating stuff. You can google the Brassai photograph that inspired the author..."Lesbian Couple at Le Monocle, 1932." Then start reading...things will just get more interesting from there. This was a hard one for me to put down.

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Black Chalk Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250075550
Availability: Not Available In-Store - Usually Ships from Warehouse in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - August 4th, 2015

I really wanted to avoid the standard cliches when describing this book..... "Page Turner", "Couldn't put it down", "Unpredictable", " But what can I say,....those cliches all apply so well here. Six college friends embark on what is to be a game, a series of dares. But things take a macabre twist as the "game" becomes more and more competitive, and the dares even downright malicious. Just think of the damage that could be done if your "friends" began to use all they know of your foibles and weaknesses against you. There lies the terror in this book....the violation of privacy and trust. We have all experienced that violation at some point in our lives, and perhaps that's what makes this story so unsettling.

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Ai Weiwei Cover Image
ISBN: 9781614281917
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Assouline - April 8th, 2014

Ai Weiwei is best known for being the designer of the iconic Birds Nest, the opening and closing venue of the 2008 Olympics. The Chinese artist/activist has been both lauded and imprisoned in his homeland. This book will help you to understand why. It is an excellent introduction to Weiwei. It includes not only samples of some of his better known artworks, but also a poignant conversation with the artist. My admiration for the man grew throughout this read, as he spoke of his philosophy, the reasons for his activism, and the creative process. It literally covers Weiwei A-Z. Pick it up and introduce yourself to a remarkable man and his artistic genius.

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Bettyville: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143107880
Availability: Not Available In-Store - Usually Ships from Warehouse in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - February 2nd, 2016

The health of your loved one has deteriorated and they can no longer care for themselves. An unexpected role reversal has occurred. At the age of 40, 50, or 60, you have become the parent, and the uncooperative child is your mother or father. What to do? The author of Bettyville leaves his big city life and returns to rural Missouri to care for his 90 year old mother. But both his mother and the town are much changed. Inevitably "going back" causes the author to reflect on his own life and ponder his own mortality. A heart-rending process. But Hodgman instills his memoir with such humor, humanity, and love that I found his narrative to be anything but depressing. I laughed out loud, and yes, got watery-eyed....but that is exactly what families make you do.

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On the Move: A Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9780804170932
Availability: Not Available In-Store - Usually Ships from Warehouse in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - February 23rd, 2016

This book is reminiscent of another favorite of mine, Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman!. Both men are brilliant scholars, creative minds, risk takers, and story tellers. Sacks has been a renowned neurologist, leather jacketed biker, competitive body builder, award winning author, a drug addict, scuba diver, humanist, and a gay man whose physician mother labeled an abomination (So much for stereotypes...check out the cover!). How can all this not make for a fascinating memoir? You will want to sit down, share a glass of wine, and have dinner with this guy. Actually...maybe a couple of glasses of wine. And if the eighty year old Mr. Sacks is not available...well, at least you can be grateful that you were able to spend a very memorable evening or two with his book.

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The City of Palaces: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780299299101
Availability: Not Available In-Store - Usually Ships from Warehouse in 1-5 Days
Published: University of Wisconsin Press - April 10th, 2014

I love a book that can convincingly transport me to an unfamiliar time or place. Michael Nava did just that in his novel, The City Of Palaces. The time is 1900 and the place is Mexico City. The life of the Spanish aristocracy is being threatened by the uprisings of the indigent throughout the Mexican state. Prejudice is endemic and differences of ANY kind are anathema to the privileged class. Nava's characters inhabit this rarefied world and must adapt, become a catalyst for change, or perish. To Java's credit he created characters that made me care about their choices. Lovers of Downton Abbey should enjoy this book, and appreciate the compelling cast of characters.

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I Loved You More Cover Image
ISBN: 9780986000782
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hawthorne Books - April 2014

So many different ways we love. So unmanageable where love takes us. Grunewald is gay. His best friend, Hank, is straight. They both profess their love for each other, but does that love mean the same thing to both men? And when Ruth, a straight woman, enters their lives, how will her love for both men impact that relationship and her own life's story? Spanbauer deftly captures the small moments that can make or break a relationship, and deepen or shatter a love. The insecurities. The misunderstandings. The vulnerabilities. Words unspoken.. Regrets. Spanbauer lays them all bare in the most heartbreaking of ways. Yet the author also reminds us of the reasons we take those risks. He is a master of the lovely little moments that change our lives in the most miraculous of ways. Beautifully written, raw, and powerful. Gay or straight, if you have loved, you will find someone to connect with in this novel.

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Draw Paint Print like the Great Artists Cover Image
ISBN: 9781780672816
Availability: Not Available In-Store - Usually Ships from Warehouse in 1-5 Days
Published: Laurence King Publishing - September 23rd, 2014

Wow! What a great way to introduce your children to the artwork of contemporary and classic Masters. In this book, projects are provided to produce a piece of artwork in the style of the artist. They will etch in the style of Klee, or produce paper cutouts in the style of Matisse. The instruction is easy to understand, well laid out, and uses simple materials such as construction paper and crayons. It would be an excellent reference for parents or teachers. Projects are most appropriate for intermediate aged kids and up. As a former teacher, this would be a "go to" reference for instruction. My only complaint would be that actual pictures of the artists' original artwork are not included. So have the internet ready...or better yet grab one of our art books for reference. Have fun!

Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250074850
Availability: Not Available In-Store - Usually Ships from Warehouse in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - September 2015

This is the riveting story of the 33 Chilean miners trapped underground for 69 days in 2010. I was about half way through this book, and I had reached the point where the men had been trapped below ground for two weeks. They have run out of food, the temperatures are 115 degrees, there is 95% humidity, and they are at times in complete darkness. And it struck me, "Good God, these men have been down in this mine for 14 days going through this ordeal... how can they possibly last another 55?" And yet they do. This book is a page turner, albeit that we already know the outcome. It is a terrifying story, the men truly struggle with the mine, their own demons, and with each other. Yet it is life affirming, showing the best of man--how faith, camaraderie, trust and love can get us through the most horrific of ordeals.

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Art on Fire Cover Image
ISBN: 9781612940311
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Bywater Books - December 11th, 2012

This book masterfully skewers the contemporary art scene...the agents, the galleries, the academics, and the critics that inhabit it. It is the story of two gifted sisters: one a writer, the other a painter. Both women are inspired, flawed, quirky, and struggle throughout their tragicomic lives with their genius. They garner fame, but personal connections and intimacy allude them. Meanwhile, the art world defines and exploits them. Sounds somber, but there is a whole lot of dark humor sprinkled throughout (Think Tim Burton). Although a work of fiction, this book feels like a biography, complete with footnotes and quotes from other sources. Be is so convincing that it will have you wanting to browse the internet for samples of Francesca deSilva's art work. Winner of the Stonewall Literature Prize 2014.

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Daily Rituals: How Artists Work Cover Image
By Mason Currey (Editor)
ISBN: 9780307273604
Availability: Not Available In-Store - Usually Ships from Warehouse in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf - April 23rd, 2013

Whether you are a painter, writer, architect, maker of quilts, or builder of model airplanes, you will gain solace and inspiration from this book. It turns out, you are not the only one who has faced the daily challenge of trying to find the time to create. In fact, just about every creative genius from Ben Franklin to Andy Warhol has faced the same problem. This book ,in concise little anecdotes, tells how over 150 creative people solved their "time" problem. It shares their daily rituals and routines that insured they would produce and not just procrastinate. Lots of interesting details make this an amusing read, as well. Great gift for the artist or creative spirit in your family.  

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J.C. Leyendecker Cover Image
ISBN: 9780810995215
Availability: Not Available In-Store - Usually Ships from Warehouse in 1-5 Days
Published: Harry N. Abrams - November 2008

This lush beautiful volume is an homage to one of America's greatest illustrators, J C Leyendecker. For two decades at the beginning of the twentieth century, Leyendecker was the premier cover artist for the Saturday Evening Post and other popular magazines of the period. He did over 350 covers for the Post alone! That is more than anyone...including Norman Rockwell. He is credited with introducing such Americana as the New Years Baby. His style is very recognizable and his brushwork is quite distinctive. Leaf through this lovely volume, and you will be given a tour of American culture at the turn of the century. On an interesting side note....that handsome young man on the cover is Charles Beach. You will seem him reappear in many of Leyendecker's images. He was the illustrator's muse and long time companion for over 40 years.

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On Earth as It Is in Heaven: A Novel Cover Image
By Davide Enia, Antony Shugaar (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780374535094
Availability: Not Available In-Store - Usually Ships from Warehouse in 1-5 Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - March 10th, 2015

There is a lot of testosterone in this novel. You've got boxing, the Mafia, World War II, vengeance, daggers, beautiful women, fist fights, bombs, blood, sweat, tears,.......and did I mention boxing? But underneath all that bravado, you also have some very fine story telling here. Enia weaves a tale of three generations of boxers on the island of Sicily. Those lives span the time from World War II to the 1970's. If it was just about all that machismo, this book would belong on the pages of one of those old True Men magazines of the 1950's. But there is an undercurrent of love, friendship, empathy, and valor that runs through the narrative of all these tough guys. There is a lot of the Paladin and the Poet in all these characters. (And I am speaking of the women in this tale, as well.) You don't have to be a big boxing fan or even knowledgeable of the sport to enjoy this book.

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Stay Up With Me: Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062258137
Availability: Not Available In-Store - Usually Ships from Warehouse in 1-5 Days
Published: Ecco - May 20th, 2014

Whether you are currently the parent of a young adult child, or are a young adult "child" yourself, (Young or old, are we ever not a "child" in our parents' eyes?) will find someone to relate to in these stories. Barbash captures both sides of the parent/child dynamic in revelatory fashion. Whether it is the mother who finds her son has gone off to college and returned a piece of eye candy, or it is a son dealing with the attentions being lavished on his recently widowed father, Barbash nails the emotional landscape perfectly. The author covers other territory, as well, but I found the stories dealing with the parent/child dynamic to be my favorites....genuine, sometimes painfully on target, and consistently well written.

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Art for Baby Cover Image
By Various, Various (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780763644246
Availability: Not Available In-Store - Usually Ships from Warehouse in 1-5 Days
Published: Templar - September 8th, 2009

This is a very cool book for the parents of children under the age of six months. Child development experts agree that newborns may have difficulty changing focus from foreground to background. This mesmerising book could help. What you have here are very bold black and white images created by contemporary artists. Damien Hirst! Keith Haring! It would be a fun baby gift for new parents and a very sweet coffee table book once baby is developmentally ready to move onto other material. An added bonus!! A very nice frameable group of prints in the back..... Sweeeet!

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Citizen Keane: The Big Lies Behind the Big Eyes Cover Image
ISBN: 9781936239955
Availability: Not Available In-Store - Usually Ships from Warehouse in 1-5 Days
Published: Feral House - June 10th, 2014

This book is a "hoot"! It is not a real demanding read, but an enjoyable romp, nonetheless. Walter Keane was a prolific artist who came to public notice in the late 60's and 70's. Perhaps you remember his sad wide-eyed waifs in your grandmother's or parents' home. More recently, you may have run across his prints in the bargain bins at thrift stores. They were ubiquitous back in the day. They were trashed by "critics" and adored by the public. They also made Walter Keane a very wealthy man. His paintings were snapped up by the likes of Joan Crawford. What Walter failed to mention to anyone at the time was that he was not the artist. That would have been his wife, Margaret, who labored at home while Walter partied with the stars. Much like the Kardashians of today, Walter may have lacked talent, but he knew how to market himself. He garnered fame and fortune on that ability alone. I was thoroughly entertained by this book. It is a great story. But, on another level, it also led me to ponder that age old question..."What IS art?"...and who exactly decides.

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Mundo Cruel: Stories Cover Image
By Luis Negron, Suzanne Jill Levine (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781609804183
Availability: Backordered
Published: Seven Stories Press - March 12th, 2013

Get ready for a brash compelling read. This little volume packs a wallop! The author is going to take you along for a gritty ride through the "gayborhoods" of his native Puerto Rico. And, oh, the people that you are going to meet! What really impressed me here was Negron's ability to submerse me in his culture and place. I felt like I was there among the streets and dwellings of Puerto Rico. I cringed, I laughed, and I commiserated with the characters I met. This collection of nine short stories ranges from the violent to tender--from sexually frank to touchingly poignant. Like after any wild and crazy weekend out of town--you are going to return home exhausted--happy once again to be in the comfort of your own sweet bed. But trust me on this, memories of this trip are going to stick with you. It is a journey well worth taking.

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The One and Only Ivan Cover Image
ISBN: 9780061992278
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperCollins - January 6th, 2015

We should all be so lucky to have a friend like Ivan. He keeps his word. He listens. He cheers up his pals when they are sad. He accepts every one of them just the way they are. Plus he is a gorilla and an artist....which would make having him as a friend that much more fun! This book is his autobiography. It is at heart, a story of friendships--albeit unlikely ones. Ivan lives in a cage at a roadside mall, alongside his buddies--Stella, an aging elephant and Bob, a stray dog. He has lived there 27 years. He has come to accept his lot in life. He is not a complainer, and he takes joy in small pleasures like his tire swing. But old memories of a different life come to the surface with the arrival of a new member to the sideshow.. She will make Ivan reconsider his purpose, and ultimately change his life and the lives of his friends. This is a heartwarming book that made me think about my own close friendships. It is a reminder not to take any of them for granted, and to appreciate the differences that make each one of them special. It is also a reminder to take note of the beauty around us, and to make each and every day a work of art--even if the world is just offering up mud and dirt!

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The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143125471
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - May 27th, 2014

This book will take you back to a time when sport wasn't about a big pay check, "enhancing " your performance, or product endorsements. The boys in the boat rowed for the pure love of rowing and the joy of being the best at what they did. This is a "feel good" book without being maudlin or cloying. The nine boys overcome the challenges of the Depression, take on the Ivy League colleges back East, and finally meet Hitler's minions at the 1936 Olympics. It is a very American book. Small town boys making it good! I smiled and "pulled" for these young men throughout this uplifting satisfying read. 

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