Oceanic Art

Nicholas Thomas

Thomas covers Oceanic art from prehistory to modern times by presenting illustrations of many artifacts used ceremonially and in everyday life. He explains the symbolism and recounts many of the myths depicted on the bark-cloth, buildings, mats and shields which are characteristic of the differing regions. “Looking beyond surfaces also means looking into the contexts… A carving that has human characteristics is not necessarily a ‘representation’ of a human being or an ancestor. It may be better understood as an embodiment of that ancestor, as one expression of that ancestor, or it may be a physical container that an ancestor or spirit can be induced to inhabit at certain times.” Includes 182 illustrations, 26 in color. TR

Publisher: Thames and Hudson
Paperback: 216 pages

How To Solve a Murder: The Forensic Handbook

Michael Kurland

At first glance this looks more like a “Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego?” book, but author Kurland has written a more serious book than either the cover or the inside illustrations convey. The reader is taken through a typical murder investigation step by step, using a fictional crime tailored so that as many forensic techniques as possible are covered. Interspersed are anecdotes of real crimes; the historical notes are worthy and give a good background to the contemporary information. From blood spatters to ballistics, for the novice crime buff or mystery-novel reader, a good introduction to the world of the homicide voyeur. TR

Publisher: Macmillan
Paperback: 194 pages

The Dracula Cookbook of Blood

Ardin C. Price and Trishna Leszczyc

As the title suggests, this is indeed a collection of recipes that necessitate the use of blood. These are real recipes from Finland to Samoa, China to Africa—the reader can probably find one of Great-Great Grandma’s recipes in here. Some are short and succinct, such as the Blood Breakfast Cakes from Scotland, “Thicken cow’s blood with fine oatmeal and season to taste. Shape into patties and fry.“ Or a slight variation from Indonesia, Pudding Cakes, “Mix blood and cooked rice, season to taste. Form into patties and bake.” Others, especially those from France, are much more involved. Over 60 authentic recipes are interspersed with folklore and a short history of blood consumption. The only problem might be finding the blood to cook with! TR

Publisher: Mugwort Soup
Paperback: 149 pages

Potter’s New Cyclopedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations

R. C. Wren

Who would have guessed that the passion flower is a sedative, with hypotensive (lowers blood pressure), anodyne (relieves mental distress) and antispasmodic properties. We should be grateful that Angostura bitters are no longer made from Angostura, as in large enough doses it’s known to cause vomiting and the evacuation of the bowels. Little wonder that horses are perky after eating their oats, since it is an antidepressant, also good for alleviating the symptoms of menopause. Pilewort leaves it to the imagination—it’s enough to say that this herb could lead to an improvement in a very uncomfortable condition. Find a wild lettuce and it could relieve bronchitis and help sleep. A fascinating reference book with descriptions of what to look for, where to find it, and which bits to use. Over 500 plants are listed with their many uses. Despite the fact that the new edition, updated from the original 1907 version, no longer has illustrations—they were of too poor a quality to reproduce—this is an essential source of information for anyone seriously interested in herbal drugs. TR

Publisher: C.W. Daniel
Paperback: 362 pages

Absolutely Mad Inventions

A.E. Brown and H.A. Jeffcott Jr.

What drives people to not only think of such outlandish things, but to go the trouble of patenting them? Included are a privy seat that consists of rollers that will throw to the ground anyone attempting to stand upon it, pince-nez-style safety goggles for a fowl, and a humane device to attach a bell to the necks of rodents “thereby frightening the other rats and causing them to flee.” In case of conflagration, there are fire- escape suspenders with a cord attachment, which allow the wearer to remove the cord and lower it to the ground in the hope that someone can pass up a rope. For a hot summer’s day, there’s a rocking chair with bellows so “the occupant may, by the act of rocking, impel a current of air upon himself.” Also included are edible stick pins, chewing-gum lockets, mechanical clothes pins, a bait trap for tapeworms, devices for producing dimples and shaping upper lips, and many more. Almost 60 inventions, all with the original illustrations as submitted to the patent office. Originally collected and published in 1932 as Beware of Imitations. TR

Publisher: Dover
Paperback: 125 pages

Rodin on Art and Artists

Auguste Rodin

Set against the colorful descriptions of Rodin’s atelier, we hear, through conversations with his close friend Paul Gsell, Rodin’s opinions and philosophy on art and of some of his influences. In the chapter “Realism in Art” it’s revealed that unlike most sculptors who place models on pedestals and arrange them, Rodin would pay models to roam around his studio “to furnish him constantly with the sight of the nude moving with all the freedom of life”; by watching them he found inspiration for a natural pose. Often criticized by his contemporaries for his realistic portrayals of the human figure, he broke the rules of the time with his bold expression and style. This book gives insight into the rationale and methods utilized by Rodin. With intuitive sagacity he comments on the various works of Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Raphael and many more of the famous names who fill the art museums of the world. The book includes 51 illustrations of his sculptures including La Belle Heaulmiere, Head of Sorrow, the unfinished Gates of Hell, of course The Thinker, and 23 prints and drawings. TR

Publisher: Dover
Paperback: 119 pages