Reviews of Books and Art

Now and then I review books and address art issues on this blog and more recently on Impakter Magazine where I am Senior Editor. As the reviews tend to get "lost" in the large number of posts published here, I've collected them below for your convenience:

Nir Eyal's "Hooked": The Secret to Driving Customer Engagement, Book review of Nir Eyal's best seller and a fount of inspiration and advice for start-ups, published on Impakter Magazine, see here

The Battle for Food: Small Farmers vs. Big Corporations, Who Wins? Book review of Nora McKeon's book "Food Security Governance" (Routledge 2015), a stark examination of how civil society impacts the work of the United Nations , published on Impakter Magazine, see here

Jenny Santi Reveals the Secret to Happiness 
How philanthropy works for the givers. A review on Impakter Magazine, to read click here 

How Good is Patrick Modiano, the New Nobel in Literature?
 The Nobel jury seems to be able to discover new writers you've never heard of, coming from countries that have a literature you have never read, like China, Egypt or Turkey and everytime, it's a real pleasure to discover something totally new. So when the Nobel this year went to a Frenchman I had never read - and I do read regularly French literature  -  I was totally floored and rushed to buy one of his books. In French, of course...more here.

Amazing Italy: A Forgotten Museum
Palazzo Abatellis in old Palermo, restored by famous Italian architect Scarpa, exhibits masterpieces that are the equal of any in the Louvre...more here.

Misunderstood Art: James Wyeth
In Italy, the best museums are ignored by tourists, in America, a fantastic portrait is relegated to a closet. Only now, it's coming out of obscurity because suddenly the public realizes that Jamie Wyeth, the gifted son of Andrew Wyeth is as great an artist as his father.  ...more here. 

Can an Artist have a Second Life After Death?
When most of us die, we remain as a memory for our family and closest friends. For artists, it can be different...With a bit of luck and help from those who have loved us.

Raymond Spillenger, a 1950s-60s artist belonging to the New York school of Abstract Expressionism, who died a few months ago (in November 2013 at the age of 89) has suddenly come back on the scene...more here. 

Real/Unreal, No Limits to Artists' Imagination
I came across these amazing works of art/installations presented on Impaker - none of them photo-shopped. They're the real stuff.  For example: A "meat painting" by Victoria Reynolds (steaks like you've never seen them)...more here

A New Kind of Fiction for the 21st Century: the Serialized Novel
The digital revolution has shaken up publishing, we all know this. It has levelled the field for self-published authors, giving them a chance to by-pass traditional publishers and become best-sellers on their own. What is not always realized is that the way we consume books has also changed.  We tend to skim over content, we have little patience with wordy descriptions...more here

Why Climate Fiction is Here to Stay
Climate fiction has gone viral for a very simple reason: it deals with climate change and global warming, issues that are getting worse every year. We've been used to dire reports from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for years but now we are getting one, equally somber report from the United States, long the homeland of climate change deniers...more here

Literature vs. Genre Fiction : A Lost Battle in the Digital Age ?

It has always been one category among many, and the poor cousin of big genre categories such as Romance, Science Fiction or Thrillers, the main wage earners in the publishing industry...more here

What's in a Pen Name?
What's in a name?  People hide behind pseudonyms and pen names, or what the French so nicely call "nom de plume", and I've always wondered why…More here

Sex and the American Novel
J.A.Konrath recently fumed about sex: when his books contain explicit sex scenes, his readers are unhappy and call him a pervert! Amazing!  Although I know America well and am a keen observer of American mores, I'm still puzzled by the way Americans view sexmore here

How to Start Your Novel with a Splash
The hardest part of writing a novel is... the beginning! I don't know about you, but for me, it is something I do and redo and I'm rarely satisfied with it. You know your book has to start with a splash - that's what literary agents and publishers expect, that's what readers wantmore here

Amy Winehouse is Dead at 27, like Janice Joplin
Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London home by the police, yesterday afternoon, 23 July 2011. She was only 27 - just like Janice Joplin who died at the same age in 1970more here

Italian Design’s Best Kept Secret: How the Old Helps the New:
On a recent Sunday evening I was given an unusual insight in what makes Italian design so successful. It happened at the fair for young Italian designers, the A.I.Fair (it stands for Artisanal Intelligence) held on 29 January 2012 in Emperor Hadrian's Temple in the suggestive Piazza di Pietra in old Rome. A eureka moment!…more (with plenty photographs) here

Writers' Chat: YA Literature
YA literature made headlines in 2011 when the children's books critic for the Wall Street Journal, Ms. Gurdon, accused some YA novels for being too violent and inappropriate for a teen market. More recently an article in the New York Times suggested that modern YA literature had lost the freshness of Peter Pan…more here

Dylan Paintings Cause a Storm of Criticisms: Is it Fair?
When Bob Dylan the Singer became a Painter and had a show in the famed Gagosian gallery, all hell broke loose. Why? Because his paintings are made from photographs that are not even his own! People started throwing insults like "plagiarism!" or more here

Wonky Journalism is Back in Fashion: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
One of my all-time favorites! Would you believe Tom Wolfe's irreverent masterpiece has been picked up by Time as one of its 100 Best Nonfiction Books???  I bet Tom Wolfe would have a fit... more here

A Great Artist is Dead, Long Live Lucien Freud!
Lucien Freud, the greatest 20th century artist after Picasso, the friend and arch-rival of Francis Bacon, died yesterday, age 88.  The greatest living artist of our times is no moremore here

Is Contemporary Art at a Turning Point?
The more extreme forms of Contemporary Art have for decades been breaking one record after another at auction sales…more here

Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad: A Slow-burning Masterpiece?
Why did Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad published in 2010, take off so slowly?But take off it did...more here
Young Adult Fiction: is it really a "genre" that sells books?

The publishing industry has always relied on "genre" as a marketing tool to push its wares, and among them, the most bizarre is YAmore here
How would you write about the Frankenstein monster?
Some literary themes never die, and one of them is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein monster…more here
Publishing: What makes a Blockbuster?
The chances for a blockbuster are remote, more like Nassim Taleb's "black swan", swooping in unannounced out of a clear blue sky. Yet, history overtime and recent history as well, is filled with striking examples …more here
Graffiti: Is It Art? And What Is Art Anyway?
You'd think that question was settled now that buildings in most major urban centres - New York, London, Paris etc - have been cleared of graffiti. But, no, it isn't...more here

Is Italy's Art Heritage going to the Dogs?
Italy is the cradle of European art and with 45 registered UNESCO heritage sites, it has more than any other country in the world.  While Italy seems unable to look after it properly, we probably shouldn't accuse it of negligence...More here
Are we suffering from Museum-itis or Museum Creation Fever?
The most bizarre museums are created nowadays - for example, former President of France Jacques Chirac founded a museum in the small rural village (286 inhabitants) where he was born, in backwaters Correze, to display the...More here
What's Happening to Contemporary Art? Andrew Vicari as a Counterpoint...
I bet you never heard of him: Andrew Vicari, now 72, is a British painter - of Italian descent as his name implies - and reportedly the 18th richest man in the UK, right after Paul McCartney…More here
Stieg Larsson's Trilogy: Another Black Swan in Literature!
Everyone's heard of that phenomenal blockbuster that's come out of Sweden: the Millenium Trilogy. The author is a Swedish newspaperman, Stieg Larsson, whomore here
Contemporary Art: from Duchamp's urinal to Manzoni's sh*t in the box to... what next?
Almost a century ago (in 1917), Marcel Duchamp made Art History with his urinal, of which there are five copies today in the most important museums around the world (the original is lost). Almost fifty years ago more here
When I was a work of art and didn't know it!
Starting March 14 until May 31 2010, the world-famous Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovic is going to start sitting behind a table, for 7 hours a day, for (nearly) 3 months, as long as her retrospective at MOMA lasts…more here
Guess what: the contemporary art market is...a market!
I didn't say it, Don Thompson said it…more here
Never read a book about an irritating subject before going to bed...
If you do, you won't sleep!That's what happened to me last night. I opened up a book about Contemporary Art I had received for Christmas andmore here
The Old Masters vs. Contemporary Art: a losing battle
Yes, it's a losing battle. If you think the Old Masters are up there sitting on their eternal throne, the subject of adulation by the screaming masses, think again! True, museums showing their works have multiplied...more here

Damien Hirst vs. the Wallace Collection - Turner vs. the Great Masters
November 2009, just back from London. Saw two fantastic exhibitions: one was Damien Hirst at the Wallace Collection, the other was Turner at Tate Britain. Both reminded me that an artist's ego is as BIG as a house - nay, a palace, a mountainMore here