Books Digest – To Paradise, The Oracle of Night and Georgia O’Keefe

Welcome to our weekly Books Digest where we round up the new books you should and shouldn’t read. This week features To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara, The Oracle of Night: The History and the Science of Dreams by Sidarta Ribeiro and Georgia O’Keefe, Photographer by Lisa Volpe.

For more books, take a look at our Books Digest archive.

In Heaven by Hanya Yanagihara (Pan Macmillan), £14.49.

Alice Crossley

Anyone who has read A little life Hanya Yanagihara’s latest novel, will have found it a hard book to forget. The characters are subjected to relentless psychological and physical distress unlike anything I’ve ever read. Benefiting A little life felt like sadism, and yet it was hard not to enjoy it (although I could never bear to read it again). His latest novel, In Paradise, is thankfully less torturous, but ultimately just as depressing. Comprised of three stories, set in 1893, 1993 and 2093, the book explores three versions of America, questioning the meaning of paradise.

The first story, “Washington Square,” follows the life of an upper-class young man in an alternative New York where homosexuality is accepted, but the choice to love whoever you want is more complex than it seems. it seems. In the second (and most boring) story, “Lipo-Wao-Nahele”, a young Hawaiian fleeing his heritage and estranged father experiences the AIDS crisis with his much older and wealthier partner. And in the latest utopian story, “Zone Eight,” the world is plagued by infectious disease and controlled by a totalitarian state as a grandfather tries to protect his granddaughter from the dangerous world he helped create. to create.

At 701 pages, the book is unnecessarily heavy in both length and storyline. A little life maybe sad but In Paradise is disappointing, boring and confusing.

Georgia O’Keefe, photographer by Lisa Volpe (Yale University Press), £35.35.

saffron thread

A common misconception is that revered artist Georgia O’Keefe spent more time in front of the camera than behind it. Famous for his floral close-ups – such as black iris and Oriental poppies – and landscape paintings – like Rust red hills and Pedernal Mountain – O’Keefe was famous for capturing America’s nature, a feat that earned her the title “Mother of American Modernism”. But so far his photography has remained largely underrated.

Georgia O’Keefe Photographer is O’Keefe’s first major photography retrospective, and it traces the artist’s thirty-year exploration of the medium, alongside a comprehensive catalog of his photographic work with essays by eminent scholars. The book tells the story of the artist’s training alongside photographer Todd Webb, before gaining the confidence to swap canvas for camera and revisit subjects she had immortalized in paintings years before. . This must-see exhibition and accompanying catalog are the commendable work of Lisa Volpe, Associate Curator of Photography at the Museum of the Fine Arts in Houston. Volpe sifted through hundreds of prints for display and catalog – primarily from the Todd Webb Archive – and established dates and places for more than four hundred images inventoried in the book.

Expect black, white and silver photographs of O’Keefe from his Abiquiú studio and yard in New Mexico, natural stone arches in Hawaii, theatrical shots of the Chama River and close-ups of puffy flowers. In all of these expressive photographs, O’Keefe uses contrasting patterns of light and shadow to explore the formal relationships between all the environmental elements. She valued line, form and texture rather than subject matter as the fundamental pillars of composition and those that helped her assess the elements of the world around her and explore their creative potential. Together, the essays and photographs form a captivating snapshot of the portfolio of one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

The Oracle of Night: The History and Science of Dreams by Sidarta Ribeiro (Transworld Publishers Ltd), £15.45.

Lily Pagano

What are dreams? Why do we have them? And do they really mean anything? These questions form the basis of Sidarta Ribeiro’s investigation of dreams in his groundbreaking new book. The oracle of the night.

Whether it’s appearing naked in front of a room of classmates, circling from a dark, mysterious figure, or flying high, each of us has stories to tell about the bizarre world, unpredictable and powerful dreams. Ribeiro sheds light on this human experience of dreams and retraces its history. From ancient tales of dreams drawn on cave walls to modern scientific analysis, Ribeiro not only explores the role dreams play at the individual level and how they provide insight into the human psyche, but he also analyzes their influence on the wider world. .

Ribeiro weaves together branches of neuroscience, biochemistry and psychology with literature, religion and anthropology to create a map of our inner world. He suggests that dreams are not only a reflection of an individual’s “desires and fears”, but can also be integral to understanding human evolution and existence. Captivating and instructive, The Oracle of the Night is a must-read for anyone interested in the spooky world of dreams.

About William Moorhead

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