Tuesday, January 25, 2005

a stolen book now in dispute

A dispute between the German government and a St. Louis bookseller has risen over a rare book of 16th century drawings and etchings. As much as booksellers are frequently described as having less than perfect morals, I don't personally know any dealers who wouldn't recognize that it is abundantly clear that the book belongs back in the collection it was stolen from (not by the dealer). The dealer did a bit of homework, and seems to have originally operated in good faith, but it doesn't matter in the end. The book was stolen, and should be returned. (thanks to bookslut for the link)

Friday, January 21, 2005

woodcut masterworks at the Grolier Club

A current exhibition at the Grolier Club, NYC, displays early woodcut illustrated books collected by Lessing J Rosenwald. The 15th and 16th century books, include works by Durer, Urs Graf and Hans Burgkmair. The exhibition is up through February 5th.

Sunday, January 02, 2005


Can't wait until March when 'Mondovino', Jonathan Nossiter's documentary about winemaking and globalisation comes to America. Nossiter's 2.5 hour paean to small vineyards and local methods has already struck a nerve with some of the large scale producers, and should continue to do so as the film gets wider distribution. It is perhaps in winemaking that the idea of "local is best" is most evident. Fine wines have almost always been identified by region and sought by educated drinkers and collectors who have known that two vineyards on opposite sides of a river valley can create radically different qualities of wine. So why now the push for homogenization? We'll see what Nossiter says, but my own guess is that the emphasis on varietals in naming (Merlot, Chardonnay, etc.) has conspired with efforts to open new markets to create global consistency of the characteristics (as defined by whom?) for those grapes. Connoiseurs will still follow terroir, which seems to be staging a comeback on its own, but in the meantime how many wonderful vineyards will be pulled up to be replanted with grapes whichcan command higher prices on the world market? Let's hope the forces for small will win out in the end.
Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive, is shaping up to be one of the more talked about non-fiction titles of the beginning of the year. First a lengthy positive review in the New Yorker, followed by a half-page Op-Ed in the NYTimes. Now the title has been included in the Guardian's list of literary highlights of the coming year.