Our hero: Superman on Earth by Tom De Haven

Yale University Press, 2010

Tom De Haven is the author of a very beautiful and surprising novel about Superman/Clark Kent’s early years in Depression-era America, titled It’s Superman (Chronicle Books, 2005). A few years later he followed this up with this lovely 206 page essay (love letter?), in which he deconstructs his own feelings for Superman by looking at the many and varied ways in which he has been portrayed over the years; on the page, over the radio-waves and of course on the screen (large and small). What’s not to love about a superhuman philanthropist who flies about wearing his undies on the outside?

Henry Mancini: reinventing film music by John Caps

University of Illinois Press, 2012

I don’t know why, but whenever I hear the name Henry Mancini I think of one of those incredibly retro Shag  pictures of groovy guys and gals holding cocktail glasses and being just impeccably cooool. But of course, it’s his theme from The Pink Panther that instantly insinuates itself into my mind, and what other image could possibly fit with that? Mancini almost singlehandedly rewrote the film-scoring rule book, moving away from the big, lush symphonic scores of the Hollywood golden era to a more laid back, jazz inspired style. He was no slouch as a writer of popular songs either, even if he is responsible for that song from that movie……

Pop life: art in a material world edited by Jack Bankowsky, Alison M. Gingeras and Catherine Wood

Tate Publishing, 2009

The idea of art being a business is nothing new, but Andy Warhol and many of the artists who followed in his wake positively relished the notion, virtually reshaping the relationship between art and commerce through their work; “good business is the best art” as Warhol famously said. This splendid catalogue comes from an exhibition originally held at the Tate Modern in 2009, and highlights not just Warhol but other leading figures such as Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Keith Haring and Tracey Emin. How much is that giant, stainless-steel bunny rabbit in the window? Read on…..

Madonna & me: women writers on the queen of pop edited by Laura Barcella

Soft Skull Press, 2012

Laura Barcella, the editor of this terrific collection, has been a self-confessed Madonna devotee since she was six, and the result of such devotion is clearly evident in this volume. Journalists, novelists, reviewers, academics and countless other women writers bring their unique perspectives to the impact Madonna has had on their lives. Mainly loving, frequently hilarious (Laura recalls how she and her school friends “posed in ridiculous photo shoots, sprawled across my bedroom rug like little Lolitas”), and very occasionally harshly critical, Madonna’s own stated wish is more than adequately fulfilled: “I’d like to leave the impression that Marilyn Monroe did, to be able to arouse so many different feelings in people.” Bingo!

And from our Picture Collection, popular culture meets the Spring Racing Carnival

Rennie Ellis Collection. Spring Racing Carnival, Victoria

 

And while I have your attention, don’t forget to help the Library shape its future by having your say, via our “Your State Library, your say” website at  http://vicstatelibrary.engagementhq.com/ .

 

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