RSS
Best books … chosen by Neil LaBute
The award-winning playwright and film director who made his mark with <em>In the Company of Men</em> brings his play<em> Reasons to Be Pretty</em> to Broadway on April 2.
T

he award-winning playwright and film director who made his mark with In the Company of Men brings his play Reasons to Be Pretty to Broadway on April 2.

Recent Forgeries by Viggo Mortensen (Smart Art, $20). As if he weren’t a talented enough actor, Mortensen is also a singular fine artist and poet. The paintings and drawings in this book suck you in with their beauty and vague sense of menace. His words are simple and vast, and his photography reminds you of the best of William Eggleston and Walker Evans.
 
Blue Angel by Francine Prose (Harper Perennial, $15). A writer of extraordinary gifts, Prose is one of those authors you buy the second you see a new book out on the shelves. Her take on Heinrich Mann’s Professor Unrat is a serious and simultaneously hilarious swipe at PC campus politics and the very idea of sexual harassment.
 
Zones of Exclusion: Pripyat and Chernobyl by Robert Polidori (Steidl, $75). A collection of breathtaking photographs—mostly void of human beings—centered on two radioactive ghost towns. Gorgeous color bursts from every frame, but the devastation that haunts the work is almost too much to take.

The Vinegar Works by Edward Gorey (out of print). Billed as “three volumes of moral instruction,” this Gorey collection takes the reader on a glorious ride through one corner of his macabre universe. Troubling black-and-white illustrations grace these tales, my favorite being “The Gashlycrumb Tinies,” which uses the assorted gruesome deaths of children to illuminate an A-B-C primer.
 
Salvador Dalí’s Dream of Venus by Ingrid Schaffner (Princeton, $60). This fascinating visual document of a little-remembered controversy from the 1939 World’s Fair walks readers through both the glory and the travesty of an artsy fun house created by Dalí. It’s exactly what you would expect from the surrealist and yet unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
 
What It Is, and How It Is Done by Crispin Hellion Glover (out of print). Speaking of “unlike anything you’ve ever seen,” this book is a mini-tour through the madcap mind of the actor/director/author Crispin Glover, and what a journey it is. A collection of ghastly photos, strange illustrations, and personal rants that somehow make a kind of sense. It might just be genius.

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week