By Wayne Barrett
Basic Books, 498 pp., $26
You wouldn’t know it from reading the dailies, but there’s more to Barrett’s notoriously unauthorized biography than scoops about the mayor’s father’s criminal past. Barrett methodically treats every stage of Giuliani’s life so far—his childhood in Brooklyn and Long Island, his years at Bishop Laughlin High School, his first and second marriages, and, most comprehensively, his work as a prosecutor and politician. Barrett’s summation of Rudy’s career is blunt: “As mayor he may have lost the moral compass that guided him as a prosecutor.”
By Robert Christgau
St. Martin’s, 400 pp., $19.95 paper
Organized alphabetically and rated on a scale from A-plus to turkey-minus, entries cover a selection of the longtime Voice music critic’s short reviews—from Archers of Loaf to Tom Zé, King Sunny Ade to Zouk Attack. Christgau’s got a discriminating talent for summing up an entire album in a few words: the Afro Cuban All Stars’ A Todo Cuba le Gusta, for example, gets three stars and the economical comment “lots of salseros, and Ry doesn’t get in the way.” Also scheduled for reprint are Christgau’s early writings in Any Old Way You Choose It (Cooper Union Press).
By Sylvia Plachy
Monacelli, 224 pp., $50
Plachy’s documentary photographs are powerfully peculiar and meditative images. Introduced by Wim Wenders (“[Plachy] showed me that photographs can . . . rhyme”), the book is divided into 19 thematic sections. One section, “Birds of a Feather,” features a photograph of four Santas descending into a subway station; another, “Roundness,” opens with a lilting view out the window of a 747; and another, “Synchronicity,” contains a batch of images that show what Wenders means when he says Plachy makes photos rhyme.
By Tom Tomorrow
St. Martin’s, 125 pp., $13.95 paper
Hosted by Sparky the talking penguin, and featuring Biff the airheaded right-winger, and a cast of smiling ladies, When Penguins Attack! collects two years of Tom Tomorrow’s offbeat weekly political cartoons. Called “the best political cartoonist in America” by Dave Eggers in his introduction, Tomorrow manages to make serious fun out of important political questions—the Fed, voter apathy, campaign finance reform, police violence, and priceline.com. Who knew die-hard lefties could be so witty?