The Page Boy

By Lavender May 23, 2008

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Augustus F. Sherman: Ellis Island Portraits, 1905–1920
Peter Mesenhöller
Aperture
$40

In these days of disagreement over the question of immigration—who to be allowed in, and who kept out—Ellis Island Portraits is a compelling reminder of our origins. Augustus F. Sherman photographed more than 200 individuals, generally chosen as “types.” The images serve both as a unique document of the extreme diversity of the incoming floods (a white-skirted Greek, a turbaned Sikh), and, more ominously, to heighten the “us”-“them” separation between the newcomers and established citizens, who frequently looked upon the strangers with fear and distrust. The photos will be at the Minnesota History Center—the exhibition opens July 4. Visit www.mnhs.org.

Big Eye Art: Resurrected & Transformed
Blonde Blythe
Merrell
$29.95

Big Eye Art transports one back to the 1960s, when Margaret Keane’s huge-orbed sprites gazed mournfully out of myriad mass-market venues. Humans are drawn viscerally to large eyes—witness the appeal of infants, puppies, talking mice. And they’re making a comeback. Some of the 180 pieces here are winsome, some eerie and fantastical. Most of the artists represented are women (Blonde Blythe, Valerie Jeanne), along with Dennis Finley and Mark Gleason’s striking work—their subjects elfin girls, fantasy women and creatures, with a historical nod to such greats as Neon (a big-tear-eyed Prince). An overview and discussion of the history and future of “Big Eye” art accompanies this unique volume.

Barth Anderson
Bantam Dell
$13

An enigma, wrapped in a riddle, hidden in the first tarot deck, drives this thriller. The action spirals back and forth in space and time between Jeremiah Rosemont, fallen academician, and Boy King. The two are linked, and pursue and are pursued through space and time—clarity is not one of the book’s concerns—relying on the kaleidoscopic exposition to mesmerize the reader. A third presence is Rosemont’s old friend, current nemesis and extreme academic John C. Miles, while a fourth factor is an eldritch binder. Anderson, author of The Patron Saint of Plagues, infuses his new novel’s hermeneutical caravanserai with a leavening amount of wit, propelling the reader on to its inevitable conclusion.

Remembrance of Things Past
Marcel Proust
Adapted by Stéphane Heuet
NBM Publishing
$10.95-$19.95

Everyone wants to have read Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past; fewer have essayed it; fewer still have run its multivolume gauntlet. NBM Comics Lit, through the perceptive adaptation and evocative art of Stéphane Heuet and Stanislas Brézet, along with the nuanced coloring, are making Proust’s homosexual masterpiece available through graphic novels. The medium adroitly conveys the author’s Madeleine-induced reveries, while the artists’ freedom to manipulate images and panels counterbalances the expository text and dialogue balloons. To date, Combray, two volumes of Within a Budding Grove, and the first volume of Swann in Love are in hardcover and softcover.

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