Friday, December 21, 2012

More Last-Minute Christmas Gift Ideas!

OK, so the world hasn't yet come to an end (and here I went and spent my life savings this week... NOW WHAT?!) so I can continue with some more book ideas. Of course, more books that I worked on this year and think are amazing and fabulous and that you should own. On Tuesday I listed all of the fiction books I've worked on this year. Now I'll move on to the non-fiction.

I already mentioned Who Is the Doctor, which came out in April, and I mention it again because it's an amazing book you should own.

Next up, Richard Crouse is the film critic for Canada AM, and I've been his editor for many years. About a year and a half ago he came to me with some ideas for his next book, and the moment he began talking about what he called "the most banned film of all time," all his other ideas just went out the window for me. The resulting book — Raising Hell: Ken Russell and The Unmaking of The Devils — is a fascinating and shocking account of the making of this film, which starred Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave, why it was so controversial and hated at the time, and how it's undergone a renaissance 40 years later, where critics are now hailing it as a masterpiece. (Such is hindsight...) In the summer, anyone who follows me on Facebook probably saw me posting things like, "OMG I just got an email from Terry Gilliam!" or "Guillermo del Toro just totally emailed me, so..." as I became more smug about it. And that's because of the back cover endorsements we were collecting for the book. See them for yourself here (click to enlarge):

And then go buy this book for yourself (here in Canada, here in the U.S.). It's an amazing account of filmmaking in the early '70s and how censorship rulings can entirely change the fate of one film. And it'll make you reflect on whether or not we've actually changed much as a society since then.

This next book is another fantastic book I've had the pleasure of working on. My First Guitar is a decade-long labour of love by NY-based guitarist Julia Crowe. Crowe, a columnist for Classical Guitar magazine, began collecting stories of famous guitarists talking about their very first guitar when she discovered that the simple plea, "Tell me about your first guitar," unleashed stories not just about the guitar but guitar lessons, parents encouraging/discouraging the playing, losing the first guitar, second and subsequent guitars, recordings and bands, and pretty much everything else. So she began asking that question, and the answers were revelatory. And when Mr. Jimmy Page not only agreed to the interview but took her to his mansion outside of London to show her some of his guitars, suddenly many other musicians began stepping up to talk to this diminutive powerhouse of a writer. The resulting book is extraordinary, and although I'm not a guitarist (my husband is the guitarist in our family), I am a pianist, and if you ever had a first instrument that you loved so much, or had a true passion for something at a young age, you will identify with the stories in this book. It features stories from guitarists as diverse as Joey Santiago from The Pixies or Lee Ranaldo from Sonic Youth; Melissa Etheridge; Joe Satriani; Alex Lifeson from Rush; the late Les Paul, in one of his final interviews; Roger McGuinn; Peter Frampton; Michael McKean and Christopher Guest; and many, many more. From blues to jazz to classical, alternative and hard rock, she covers the gamut of musicians in this tome. And throughout, she intersperses her own story of becoming a guitarist, which honestly is one of the highlights of the entire book. This is the book for every musician in your life. Get it here in the U.S. and here in Canada.

Next up is the other book you should buy for the musicians in your life. Know any Beach Boys fans? If you do, there's only one book they should own, and it's 50 Sides of the Beach Boys by Mark Dillon. Like Crowe's book, it features interviews from 50 people involved with or influenced by the Beach Boys in one way or the other. In a truly unique format, Dillon chose the 50 songs he believed were the defining moments of the Beach Boys oeuvre, and then found 50 people to talk about the importance of each of those tracks. Not only did he manage to get every living member of the Beach Boys to choose a track (including Mr. Brian Wilson) but he got Zooey Deschanel to talk about "Wouldn't It Be Nice"; Lyle Lovett on "God Only Knows"; Jace Lasek (from Besnard Lakes, one of my favourite singers!) on "Good Vibrations"; Cameron Crowe on "Feel Flows"; Matthew Sweet on "Wonderful"; Alice Cooper on "In My Room"; John Sebastian on "Surfer Girl"; and many more. Ordered chronologically, the explanations of the songs are interspersed with biographical material of the band, so you get both the story along with the 50 voices talking about how this monumental band became much more than a bunch of surfer dudes, writing some of the most incredible music of the 20th century. You can get it here in Canada and here in the U.S.

And just to show that not all of my non-fiction titles this year were music/TV/film oriented (and only now am I realizing that all of them — including the Doctor Who book — featured orange covers! What is THAT all about?!) my last offering is Moe & Me, a book by Globe and Mail golf writer Lorne Rubenstein. As many of you know, I'm married to the other prominent Canadian golf writer, so I've edited a lot of golf writing and know a hell of a lot about golf. (I always joke with my husband that I'm the president of KWOGA: Knowledgeable Wives Of Golfers Association.) But I'd never worked with Lorne until now, and the two of us hit it off pretty immediately. This is a labour of love he'd worked on for years about the 40 years in which he knew Moe Norman, one of the most fascinating and least-understood players in golf. Moe was either autistic, or suffered from Asperger's, or had been traumatized by a serious head wound he incurred when he was five and had a tobogganing accident. While no doctor can agree on what was wrong with him, what was undeniable was that he could point to a spot on the golf course, and hit the ball EXACTLY there. You tell him how high, he'd hit it that high. You say hit that telephone wire, he'll hit that telephone wire. So why wasn't he the greatest player on the PGA Tour? Because socially he couldn't look people in the eye, and he used double-speak — "OK, OK, where should I hit the ball, where should I hit the ball?" — and when he would hit the most incredible shot anyone had ever seen, the audience would laugh in shock and amazement. But Moe thought they were laughing at him (at his sweaters that he wore in July, or the loud brightly coloured striped pants that went with it) and it would throw off his mental game completely. He fell apart during games, but was so astounding at a driving range that the top players in the PGA would cease practice just to come and watch him hit balls. His story is a sad one, but he wouldn't have wanted anyone to think that: instead, Lorne remembers him as a funny, warm, and delightful person who, according to Tiger Woods, was one of only two people in the game of golf who truly owned his swing (Ben Hogan being the other). Moe Norman died eight years ago, but his memory lives on in this great book. Buy it for the sports fan in your family, here in Canada, and here in the U.S.

And that just about sums up the books I've been working on this year! I hope you enjoy reading some of them as much as I did editing them. :)


lorogomo said...

I just bought "me first guitar" as a gift for a friend because of this post haha hope he likes it!

Page48 said...

I feel like Moe Norman without game.