"Roots of Style: Weaving Together Life, Love, and Fashion" by Isabel Toledo
Fashion icon Isabel Toledo exposes the roots of her passions and beliefs in this ritzy new memoir. Pia Catton of The Wall Street Journal willingly overlooks the garishness in Toledo's writing style to see the broader design: "Ms. Toledo's language can often be perfumed and dreamy, but the book celebrates art, design and fashion so sincerely that it's simply adorable." Judith Thurman at The New Yorker notes how Toledo crafts a book in much the same way she envisions a new garment: "The sandwiching material in the book consists of Toledo’s reflections on art, love, time, and other big subjects, which she addresses in an unpretentious voice, but with the same existential assurance that she brings to her work." And across the runway at the San Francisco Chronicle, Michael Astor may raise an eyebrow at the suspicious sweetness of a figure in such a cutthroat field, but he too agrees "Roots" is a "well-dressed little book."
Bio-Metric: 4/5 stars
"Leak: Why Mark Felt Became Deep Throat" by Max Holland
Holland's new leak: Deep Throat, the larger-than-life FBI agent who exposed the Watergate scandal, acted out of sheer selfishness rather than patriotic duty. Or so claims Max Holland in his revelatory account on Mark Felt's life as resident informer. Richard Tofel of The Wall Street Journal gives "Leak" an outing: "Mr. Holland's book is fascinating reading, both when it is convincing and when it is not." Despite many "strong" arguments, Holland still comes up short. Much "like Felt's effort to become FBI director," writes Tofel, "Mr. Holland's reach exceeds his grasp." Jack Shafer at Reuters is more impressed. Calling Holland's work "deft" and "persuasive," Shafer goes on to say it "reads like lightning" and that "students of journalism will profit from reading this Watergate redux."
Bio-Metric: 3.5/5 stars
"The One: The Life and Music of James Brown" by R J Smith
People are feelin' good after reading R J Smith's new biography on James Brown. "This book’s sparkle," writes Janet Maslin of The New York Times, "speaks for itself, as does Mr. Smith’s ability to take on his screaming, moaning, kinetically blessed, unbeatably shrewd subject." Preston Lauterbach of The Wall Street Journal calls Smith an "omnivorous writer," who "nails Brown's influences and continuous artistic evolution" from "styles of bluesy shouter Wynonie Harris...to becoming the founder of funk and the forefather of hip-hop." Publisher's Weekly hums a similar tune: "Smith’s compelling and detailed portrait of one of our greatest musicians reveals affectionately and honestly the reasons we jump up every time 'I Feel Good' comes on the radio."
Bio-Metric: 5/5 stars