The Page Boy

By E.B. Boatner December 2, 2010

Categories: Books, Our Affairs

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C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy
Jeff Sharlet
Little, Brown and Company • $26.99

This follow-up to Jeff Sharlet’s The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power (2008) makes a wonderful dystopian thriller. Unfortunately, it is nonfiction, an examination of the fundamentalist/political Fellowship whose center is located at the title’s eponymous DC address. Sharlet, the only reporter to have lived in a Fellowship-owned house, takes as a starting point three recent Republican sex scandals involving John Ensign, Mark Sanford, and Chip Pickering, whose affairs were mitigated by C Street connections. The author moves on to fundamentalist influence on the American military and in foreign nations. One of the most riveting sections is his account of his findings in Uganda during intimate talks with David Bahati, the member of the country’s Parliament who introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Regarding Senator James Inhofe (Republican-Oklahoma), Bahati acknowledged, “We respect him. We know him.” Sharlet stresses repeatedly and convincingly that the Fellowship has targeted Africa specifically to try out techniques that can be brought back home to implement.

Crossing the Barriers: The Autobiography of Allan H. Spear
Allan Spear
University of Minnesota Press $34.95

Allan Spear’s straightforward prose—along with his recounting of mistakes as well as triumphs, both personal and political—engages the reader from the first page. He writes of his early awareness of being gay, which at first alarmed him. He later embraced his gayness when he came out during his first term in the Minnesota Senate. Teaching at the University of Minnesota, he advocated the establishment of African-American studies. He was involved in the civil rights movement. Increasingly immersed in politics and the DFL Party, Spear spent 28 years in the Minnesota Senate (1972-2000), and was President of it 1993-2000. He was instrumental the passage of the 1993 Minnesota Human Rights Act Amendment, which prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation. Both DFL and Republican colleagues admired him. In 2008, the Minnesota Historical Society named Spear one of 150 Minnesotans who shaped the state during its first century-and-a-half.

The Cruel Ever After: A Jane Lawless Mystery
Ellen Hart
Minotaur Books • $25.99

This latest Jane Lawless mystery devolves around the sudden appearance of feckless Chester Garrity, her husband. Yes, husband. Jane is now a noted restaurateur—owner of Minneapolis’s Lyme House Restaurant and Xandu Club—and an out lesbian. It seems Garrity’s her ex whose defection years ago provided seed money for her business, though she hadn’t mentioned his name to friends. Weell, not exactly “ex,” Garrity confides, camped on her doorstep. He never exactly finalized the divorce. He’s here because while in Minneapolis to sell a priceless (stolen) artifact, he woke up this morning next to the murdered corpse of a local art collector. I give you this tangled skein of information so you can hit the ground running, and plunge headlong—with Jane—into the ensuing free-for-all. The novel involves Jane’s father (will he handle the divorce?); the incorrigible Cordelia Thorn; Jane’s niece, Mia; and the murderer.

Shadow Catchers: Camera-less Photography
Martin Barnes
Merrell • $69.95

A glorious volume for gift or library, Shadow Catchers—from the exhibition of that name—highlights the work of five exceptional artists: Pierre Cordier, Susan Dergers, Adam Fuss, Gary Fabian Miller, and Floris Neusüss. Martin Barnes, Senior Curator of Photographs at Londonís Victoria and Albert Museum, offers a brief history of the camera-less art form, as well as thoughtful essays examining the work of each of the artists before his or her gallery of image. And what work it is! The diversity of the approach of these artists to images and the variety of their work are staggering, from water to what looks like (but isn’t) electronic boards to living creatures. None of these artworks were birthed inside a camera, yet all explore the boundaries and meaning of light, dark, time, and boundaries of perception. William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) had made similar images since 1834, but these artists have shown how far they can go, and hint at what may yet be revealed.

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