Fresh off the season’s first snowfall up here in Michigan’s north woods, I’ll take a break from wool-sock knitting and ice shanty roof repairs to file this intro to our newly released winter 2017 issue of Foreword Reviews.
Upfront, a stunning, heart-thumping photo of supermodel Karlie Kloss—dusted with chalky-white powder on her torso (or frost, perhaps) and donning an elaborate rose headpiece—easily earns my favorite-Foreword-cover-of-all-time award. Not that you asked, but there’s something about beauty on the Karlie level, somewhat like seeing a wolf or grizzly in the wild—the ol’ brain just slips into an awed, mesmerized state. (Okay, I got that out of my system.)
We sourced that photo of Karlie in Stoppers: Photographs from My Life at Vogue (Phyllis Posnick, Abrams), which we reviewed in the Gift Ideas department of Foreword, on page 8. And how, you might ask, did we get permission to use a photo of one of the world’s most beautiful women, dressed in Marc Jacobs, taken by a top fashion photographer? A little luck and some cajoling by our multi-talented designer Barb Hodge.
In fact, we’re blessed that most publishers are thrilled to have one of their books featured on a Foreword cover. In this case, Barb had a lengthy back and forth with Abrams over which of the hundred-plus photos in Stoppers we could use. Not many, as it turned out, based on the celebrity level of the photographers, whether we planned to alter or crop the photo, where we planned to place our barcode and cover lines, and other painstaking criteria. Finally, after narrowing the chase down to a couple photos, photographer Patrick Demarchelier and author Phyllis Posnick signed off on the Kloss photo. Hot damn!
We also covered a couple other important projects in Gift Ideas: Pierre Paulin: Life and Work (Nadine Descendre, The Vendome Press) and Queer: A Graphic History (Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele, Icon Books), along with several other books I love—How to Read Medieval Art (Wendy A. Stein, The MET), for example.
The Winter 2017 Foresight features included the genres of Mystery and Health & Fitness, as well as our annual University Press Picks spread of ten outstanding books from universities. At Foreword Reviews, it’s my privilege to select a great many of the books we review in the magazine. That said, choosing the books for the UPP feature is nightmarishly difficult because we regularly review books from as many as eighty or so university presses and I’m a fan of them all.
Anyway, there are no tricks or easy ways out; I just have to buck up and make decisions based on book’s uniqueness, broad appeal, writing quality, the importance of the message (might it change the world?), and how strongly the book talks to me. I know this all sounds mealy-mouthed, but that’s how I do it. For several years, it was also my duty and pleasure to write the feature, but this year we asked one of our top reviewers, Scott Neuffer, to give it a shot and he knocked it out of the park.
Here’s a partial list of the books featured:
Levi Strauss: The Man Who Gave Blue Jeans to the World (Lynn Downey, University of Massachusetts Press)
Coming of Age at the End of Nature: A Generation Faces Living on a Changed Planet (Julie Dunlap, Susan A. Cohen, editors, Trinity University Press)
Towards A Prairie Atonement (Trevor Herriot, University of Regina Press)
Badge 387: The Story of Jim Simone, America’s Most Decorated Cop (Robert Sberna, The Kent State University Press)
Religion and Sustainable Agriculture: World Spiritual Traditions and Food Ethics (Todd LeVasseur, Pramod Parajuli, Norman Wirzba, editors, University Press of Kentucky)
Blueprint for America (George P. Schultz, editor, Hoover Institution Press).
In the Health & Fitness Foresight, allow me a quick nod to Human Heart, Cosmic Heart: A Doctor’s Quest to Understand, Treat, and Prevent Cardiovascular Disease (Thomas Cowan, Chelsea Green), an extraordinarily original exploration into the human heart’s actual role in the body and how a new approach might transform the way we deal with heart attacks and cardiovascular problems. This is one of the most remarkable books I’ve seen this year. Melissa Wuske penned the review and it’s spot on.
With university presses still on my mind, I highly recommend Daughter, Daedalus (Alison D. Moncrief Bromage, Truman State University Press) to those of you needing a special gift for the poetry lover in your life.
Two projects stand out in our Graphic Novel Spotlight, Flying Couch: A Graphic Memoir (Amy Kurzweil, Black Balloon Publishing), and How to Survive in the North (Luke Healy, Nobrow Press). Including these two, Peter Dabbene wrote insightful reviews of four other talented graphic novels in the winter issue.
Don’t forget that we review sixteen high-quality children’s picture books in every issue, and we always end up kicking and screaming because there’s several more deserving titles that we just can’t squeeze in.
And I’ll close with a mention of one noteworthy new work of fiction and nonfiction, which we reviewed in the back of the magazine among sixty or so other great titles:
Thriller: The White Devil (Domenic Stansberry, Molotov Editions), “Gripping from beginning to end, The White Devil is an unforgettable novel by an author at the height of his powers,” in the words of reviewer Claire Foster.
Music, Autobiography: Sex, Drums, Rock ‘n’ Roll!: The Hardest Hitting Man in Show Business (Kenny Aronoff, Backbeat Books), “As one might expect, Aronoff has a few crazy, sordid tales to tell about life on the road, but Sex, Drums, Rock ’n’ Roll! Succeeds because he also shows a thoughtful, reflective side,” according to reviewer Peter Dabbene.
Matt Sutherland is Editor In Chief at Foreword Reviews. You can e-mail him at email@example.com.