Posted January 7, 2018 1:29 a.m. EST
A selection of summaries from The New York Times Book Review:
HOW TO SEE: Looking, Talking, and Thinking About Art, by David Salle. (Norton, $16.95.) The painter, who was catapulted to fame in the 1980s, offers up a guide to appreciating contemporary art. In an engaging series of essays, he profiles artists including Jeff Koons and Alex Katz, and his mentor John Baldessari. Along the way, Salle sprinkles thoughts about art school, criticism and history.
SWIMMING LESSONS, by Claire Fuller. (Tin House, $15.95.) Ingrid begins writing letters to her husband about their marriage, hiding them in the thousands of books he has collected. Then, she flees — leaving him along with their two children and a seaside home in Dorset. Years later, Ingrid’s daughter discovers the letters while caring for her aging father, prompting her to examine the circumstances of her mother’s disappearance anew.
WONDERLAND: How Play Made the Modern World, by Steven Johnson. (Riverhead, $20.) In this rollicking study, Johnson — using an elastic definition of “play,” which includes beauty, spectacles and mere novelty — makes a case for entertainment’s role in history. As he suggests, if you’re curious about where the future is headed, just look to where people are having the most fun.
THE SCHOOLDAYS OF JESUS, by J.M. Coetzee. (Penguin, $16.) In the second volume of Coetzee’s allegorical fable, which began with his 2013 novel “The Childhood of Jesus,” Davíd and Simón forge new lives in a country where immigrants’ memories have been washed away. Davíd, a gifted but difficult child, doubts his new circumstances; his persistent questioning of Simón forms the grist of a philosophical dialogue tinged with intimacy. “The result is rich, dense, often amusing and, above all, full of inner tension and suspense,” Jack Miles said in The Times.
LONDON FOG: The Biography, by Christine L. Corton. (Harvard, $18.95.) A social history of the city’s storied pollution uncovers how business interests often won out over health concerns. While the fog was killing Londoners, it also inspired, and rankled, artists and writers, becoming a romanticized feature of the city. Corton’s account investigates its lasting cultural impact.
LOLA, by Melissa Scrivner Love. (Broadway, $16.) In South Central Los Angeles, the Crenshaw Six have joined the city’s drug wars, with one of its members’ girlfriends running the operation. Lola, tough and resilient, watches violence play out on the streets of her childhood as she navigates ever-higher stakes. Times reviewer Charles Finch praised this debut thriller, calling it “as fast, flexible and poised as a chef’s knife.”