Although the profiles in this book will be a bonus

The look books

“My Last Supper” by Melanie Dunea (Bloomsbury)

Melanie Dunea’s “My Last Supper,” in which she has asked 50 of the world’s most famous chefs to describe the menu, setting and company they’d wish to savor for their last meal, seems like a gimmick too cutesy, too navel gazing to be enjoyed. But the lavishly photographed volume turns out to be more moving than expected. In page after page, cuisiniers from El Bulli’s Ferran Adri to Jean Georges Vongerichten describe how they would like to experience their final earthbound hours. Their vivid tableaux of laden tables and bucolic repasts remind readers of the electric bonds between life and food, satiety and death. Some of their fantasies are overblown, quite obviously designed to postpone through excess what they believe will be the deprivations of death. Masa Takayama’s menu includes “grilled shirako risotto with white truffle, clear blowfish soup with temomi somen noodle; and blowfish replica louis vuitton bags testicle pudding with thousand year old balsamic vinegar.” But many of Takayama’s schmanciest colleagues choose the sturdiest of snacks. Eric Ripert opts for “a slice of toasted country bread, some olive oil, shaved black truffle, rock salt, and black pepper,” to be consumed under an oak or banyan tree with the people that he loves. This is more than a coffee table book, it’s a mirror: In the final moments, do we want solitude or company? Simplicity or luxuriance? Do we gulp or do we sip?”My Last Supper” captures the quick fade of what it means to live and to kill. It’s clear that recent extinguishment of life is key to the enjoyment of several chosen dishes: Anita Lo imagines a scallop that is still moving, and Dan Barber would like his final nosh to include “rack of Boris.” He is photographed with a large and noble piggy we can only assume is Boris himself. Happily, for those who would like to partake in some of the hedonism, the book includes recipes that instruct on how to simply roast Discount Replica Louis Vuitton Bags a chicken and how to make buttered noodles with Perigord black truffles (should we be lucky enough to get them). But what makes this such a stealthily compelling document is that it’s here, on the imagined edges of our lives, that we can revel in the limitless possibilities not only of what we might eat, but of who we 1:1 replica handbags might be, if there were not to be a tomorrow.

“The Here and Now” by Sam Jones (HarperEntertainment)”Alison Jackson: Confidential” by Alison Jackson (Taschen)

Sam Jones’ photography in “The Here And Now” offers an earnest, more thoughtful version of the high glazed celebrity shots of Annie Leibovitz. He conspires with his subjects for big gimmicks (David Duchovny with a face full of acupuncture needles; Will Ferrell with a Santa Claus beard of soapsuds) to create a good natured if staged spontaneity. But there’s an unpretentious warmth to Jones’ photographs, and when he gets his best subjects to light up, the photos glitter with their stardust: George Clooney, Joan fake designer bags and John Cusack, Ren Zellweger and Heath Ledger all stars with an ineffable sparkle seem even more fascinating after we look at them here. (In fact, this is a great book for the Clooney obsessive he’s in eight uniformly great shots, and contributes a cheeky foreward.) And Jones shows he really gets Tom Cruise when he lights up that beautiful, maniac smile of his with carnival freak show lights. Others (Damon, Paris, Keanu, Jessica Biel) look lovely. and that’s about it. Bush and Tony Blair lolling in a sauna, Britney Spears inhaling a Twinkie while on a treadmill, and the queen daintily reading a magazine while on the loo. They’re all fakes; Jackson employs look alikes for her gotcha shots, which do a lovely job playing with our expectations of celebrity and photography. Jackson’s intentions are highfalutin “I’m trying to break down the image as a false God,” she has said and that’s well and good, but her comedy has a pretty broad appeal. Not all the look alikes are successful a shirtless “Brad Pitt” is immediately not well toned aaa replica designer handbags enough 1:1 replica handbags , “Jennifer Lopez” is too squat and when that happens, this big book can feel a little silly. But when the likeness is there , the ideas really hit home. The extended Bush Blair photos have a wry comedy to them that’s a far cry from the usual treatment (typically obvious and vaguely homophobic) of their high profile partnership. And sometimes the models’ imperfections even aid Jackson’s cause; a soft chinned, too fragile “Eminem,” dolled up in red fuck me pumps, frilly pink knickers and a blas expression, somehow seems just right.

” Murakami” edited by Paul Schimmel and Lisa Gabrielle Mark (Rizzoli)You probably know contemporary artist Takashi Murakami, even if you think you don’t. Murakami’s adorable, cartoony designs adorn the permanent collections of plenty of major modern art museums, not to mention the arms of scrawny Hollywood starlets who pay good money for his colorful take on the high quality replica handbags china Louis Vuitton monogram. “(c) Murakami,” published in connection with the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art retrospective, catalogs his work from the early 1990s to the present. This hefty tome weighing in at 327 Perfect Quality Louis Vuitton Replica pages displays the vertiginous span of Murakami’s work: images of his paintings, sculptures, toys, prints and monograms, paired with critical essays by Dick Hebdige, Paul Schimmel, Midori Matsui, Mika Yoshitake and Scott Rothkopf, help explain why Murakami, long compared to Andy Warhol for his savvy mix of high and low, has become a true art market rock star. (Or is that pop star?)

“Mafia: The Government’s Secret File on Organized Crime” by the United States Treasury Department, Bureau of Narcotics (Collins/HarperCollins)”Mafia” might be the ultimate anti coffee table book. It is, at least, the anti Establishment coffee table book, a facsimile of 1960s secret government files on the criminal underworld. Thick as a phone book, with a similar aesthetic (and narrative arc), “Mafia” is 800 plus pages of joyless mug shots and typewritten pages that practically come with their own stale cigar smell and blinking fluorescent lights. Good luck keeping focus for 800 case files typed out on a clunky Smith Corona, featuring such details as “Criminal History: FBI 672564.” But for mobheads and true crime fanatics, it is the equivalent of a hijacked truck of unmarked bills. It’s also a quirky little slice of the American dream.

“Stylist: The Interpreters of Fashion” by Sarah Mower (Rizzoli)

Most of us think of photographers as lone geniuses, but on fashion shoots, stylists leave their aesthetic fingerprints on every frame, often dreaming up a visual tableau and seeing it through from conception to final cut. Between its pristine white covers, “Stylist” pays homage to cheap louis vuitton bags from china uk 16 of the most influential stylists, who play such a large role in the images we absorb via magazines and ads but are rarely themselves glimpsed (except for an occasional appearance in the contributor pages of Vogue or Elle, looking windswept but glamorous). Although the profiles in this book will be a bonus for any budding fashionista in your life, the real treat is the selection of photos that accompany each stylist’s bio. Polly Mellen’s work with Helmut Newton and Richard Avedon in the ’60s and ’70s does, as the text by Sarah Mower suggests, “still radiate a radical charge” just look at the Newton photo of a woman rubbing raw meat over her glittery eyelid, or the splayed legged model oozing tough sexuality. On the other hand, the images in the section on London stylist Venetia Scott are more like ragged, brazen anti fashion. Working with arty photographers such as Juergen Teller and David Sims, she conjured a rampant, vintage look that resulted in her becoming Marc Jacobs’ muse (and a member of his design team). This is a fascinating peek at these gorgeous, terrifyingly fashionable creatures.

“The Great Funk: Falling Apart and Coming Together (on a Shag Rug) in the Seventies” by Thomas Hine (Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus Giroux)

Earth shoes, “Star Wars,” Nixon, “Shaft,” Patty Hearst, punk rock, pet rocks and the pill. Thomas Hine’s latest pop culture adventure, “The Great Funk,” is a satisfying history that touches on all of those things. But it’s even more fun as a photo album. The decade begins in the summer of 1969 with Woodstock and the Stonewall riots and ends 11 years later with Ronald Reagan and the release of the Iran hostages. It is a long period of “funk,” which Hine defines as panic, stink, anarchy and improvisation. The picture filled pages portray the ’70s as a jumble of individual style, social movements and early technology. The Apple computer prototype resembles a homemade birdhouse; early porn looks quaint. But for each positive development (like the birth control pill, “Saturday Night Live” and gay pride), Hine reminds us of a negative (the Jonestown massacre, the oil crisis, Watergate and bathroom carpeting). Without too much sentimentality or nostalgia, “The Great Funk” entertainingly explores the complex identity of a decade that embraced the disco ball and the Honda Accord.

“American Ruins” by Arthur Drooker (Merrell)

The Bethlehem Steel mill is an enormous edifice of metal pipes, silos and rusting staircases, a ruin out of a post apocalyptic summer flop starring Kevin Costner. But the thing is in America in tranquil Pennsylvania, no less. Like the other structures in photographer Arthur Drooker’s “American Ruins Fake Louis Vuitton Replica Bags ,” which high quality designer replica handbags calls itself the first photography book to document America’s historic ruins, the steel mill has been ravaged by time, but it’s not beaten down. Here it is, 103 years old and still standing, and in Drooker’s pictures shot with a custom digital camera that picks up infrared light and the closest details of damage it’s magnificent. So too are the South’s great antebellum mansions, even if all that’s left of them are rows of Corinthian columns; ancient Native American missions overrun with brush; and Harper’s Ferry’s beautiful masonry piers, which once supported a bridge across the Potomac, a bridge no longer there. The bridge is no longer there, but the sight inspires awe regardless.

Farhad Manjoo”Life: America the Beautiful: A Photographic Journey, Coast to Coast and Beyond” by the editors of Life (Life Books)

At first glance, “Life: America the Beautiful” looks like the most pedestrian of coffee table books pretty pictures of places across the United States, accompanied by blurbs of text and a removable bonus black and white photo of mountains and sky by Ansel Adams, suitable for placement over easy chair or dorm bed. But look more closely and you’ll see an amusing quirkiness to the editors’ selection of our country’s 100 most spectacular sites.

The occasional odd choice and the lack of clear criteria for inclusion in this handsome tome, apparently a deliberate hodgepodge on the part of the editors, who say they were going for a “variety” of sites, each “the best of its breed” imbue this book with a whiff of the unexpected, a pinch of the peculiar. Such curiosities also serve as something of an antidote to the shamefully unimaginative, disappointingly predictable pick for the No. Just turn the page and lose yourself in crisp color photography of magnificent mountains, lovely lighthouses, adorable wildlife and buildings captured at sunset (by Joel Meyerowitz and Michael Medford, among others) and pretend you’re on the ultimate replica louis vuitton road replica louis vuitton bags trip. Are we there yet?

“The Vice Photo Book” (Vice Books)

Vice magazine exploded on the cultural scene in the late ’90s like a loud fart at an overcrowded Belle and Sebastian concert. The bloody, porny, excessively politically incorrect, free magazine felt downright fresh after the frequently inert ’90s indie scene, even if it was contrived most of the time. Vice thrived on alternately romanticizing and ridiculing an imagined Pabst swilling, drug and sex addled middle (and much lower) class culture that its middle (and upper, way upper) class readers had no actual idea about. It functioned a little like nostalgia porn for its hipster readers, who felt a little ripped off by the gentrified Giuliani era. It also managed to attract some of the best emerging photographers Ryan McGinley, Terry Richardson, Richard Kern, Jerry Hsu whose work is displayed to riveting effect in “The Vice Photo Book.” This 13 year retrospective charts the magazine’s growth from little Montreal upstart to foulmouthed New York mainstay, and we watch Vice progress from the self consciously naughty (and still undeniably gripping) photos of friends bloodied from fights, artfully doing drugs or having sex to serious photojournalism (an outlawed women’s school in Taliban era Afghanistan stands out), adjusting its “anticensorship policy” along the way. “We had to institute a ‘no pussy, no penis’ policy because our advertisers were leaving us in droves,” writes one of Vice’s founders, Suroosh Alvi, in a foreword. In that way, this pure rush of juvenile adrenaline provides its own nostalgia porn for a Vice that’s grown up and out of its addictively naughty childhood.

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