Books of life and dwelling
We know the shape of a book: spine and cover, cover, front and back, with the pages fluttering in between. An exhibition of artists’ books in the Arnold Arboretum shows the variety of design options for books. The on-off folds of the accordion; sides like petals opening in a flower; a shell of a seed nest. In The Nature of Art/The Art of Nature, fourteen members of New England Book Artists have translated their individual ideas about nature into book form. Stephanie Stigliano’s Mead & Moonshine is reminiscent of the hexagonal beeswax cavities of a beehive and middle school hickeys; His patchwork panels depict pollinators and blooms, a honeyed sense of relationship and action. In Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord’s Chambered Congruity, the textured pages of a book nestle in a cluster of sweetgum pods, a spiky nest that also somehow resembles a cloud. Lily pads flow from their box on umbilical cords, lily pads bloom and a sense of connection and floating comes from Rebecca Goodale’s “Nymphaea Ieibergii, Pygmy Waterlily”. The browns and grays in James Reid-Cunningham’s “Ashes” are reminiscent of the late stages of a campfire, and its buoyancy suggests rising smoke. The track captures the mothy, post-fire feel. The exhibit is on view at the Arboretum’s Hunnewell Visitor Center through September 5. Visit arboretum.harvard.edu for more information.
Necco waffles, those dusty, chalky slices of candy with their mysterious, elusive flavor and muted, dark colors, were distributed to Union soldiers during the Civil War and were then called “hub waffles.” The company was founded in 1847 with the candy company based in Boston. And from 1927 to 2003 the wafers were manufactured and headquartered on Mass Ave. at Central Square. Time was the scent of her sweetness drifting down the street. In Necco: An Epic Candy Tale, Darlene Lacey celebrates the candy and tells a loving and engaging story about when Necco – short for New England Confectionary Company – was a local and national institution. The book is rich in photographs and illustrations of the distinctive packaging, advertisements from the archives and images of the factories. You can almost feel the candies crack between your teeth and smell their subtle candy scent. And as for the flavors? The buttery yellow is lemon; the pale green, lime; the peachy, orange. The light purple is clove. The snow white is cinnamon. The Pepto pink is evergreen. The brick colored one is chocolate. And the blue slate is liquorice.
community of cooking
There’s a humility toward the community cookbook, the compilations of recipes that are collected and assembled and often sold to benefit a group or organization, and it’s a humility that belies its power. Its power to capture in the ingredients and instructions, in the shared history of food preparation, a specific place, a specific group of people, and the sacred practice of gathering around a table. Maine Community Cookbook Volume 2, compiled and edited by Margaret Hathaway and Karl Schatz (Islandport), contains 200 recipes that highlight and celebrate food traditions in the Pine Tree State. There are the full chapters on Blueberries (including Cobbler, Buckle, and Grunt), Apples (Pandowdy, Custard, Pie), and Lobster (Thermidor, Chili, Kelp Pesto Tails). Featuring a wide variety of stories and dishes from Maine families in each of the state’s 16 counties, the book features recipes from a 101-year-old lobster woman named Virginia Oliver, former Senator Olympia Snowe, and historian Heather Cox Richardson. It is a book of great abundance.
“moth” by Melody Razak (Harpers)
“Bright” by Kiki Petrosino (Sarabande)
“dead end memories” by Banana Yoshimoto, translated from Japanese by Asa Yoneda (counterpoint)
selection of the week
Jacob Fricke of Hello Hello Books in Rockland, Maine, recommends Emma Grove’s The Third Person (Drawn & Quarterly): “In the dark days of 2004, a young trans woman tries to convince her therapist that she is worthy of HRT is. One catch: she alternates roles as sunny, confident, stubborn Katina, reserved Emma, and depressed workaholic Ed, and doesn’t share memories between them. Is your Transmasc therapist, who could use a little reassurance himself, overwhelmed? And if the woman’s persona isn’t “real” but she clearly cares, what becomes of her “best friend” alter ego? These graphic novel memoirs are really brilliant folks.”
Nina MacLaughlin is the author of Wake, Siren. She can be reached at email@example.com.