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Short Takes: April 2011 

The Cardboard Valise
Ben Katchor
Pantheon, 2011, $25.95
From its opening panels (polygamous loggers, autoerotic paper-cut guzzling, Dumpsters brimming with obsolete medical textbooks) Katchor’s peerlessly odd graphic novel is a loopy paean to all things pulp and paper. No e-reader could replicate its witty design, with foldout handles that make the book into its own title character. Reading and slide show at NY State Writers Institute, 125 Washington Ave, Albany, 4/10 at 2pm.

The L Life: Extraordinary Lesbians Making a Difference
Erin McHugh, photographs by Jennifer May
Abrams, 2011, $32.50
The 27 women portrayed in The L Life include celebrities (Jane Lynch of “Glee,” humorist Kate Clinton, pulp writer Ann Bannon), politicians and activists, a cancer researcher, a rabbi, a Latina sheriff. McHugh’s insightful profiles, and gorgeous color portraits by Chronogram photographer May make this first-of-its-kind celebration a feast for the heart, mind, and eye.

Raising Eyebrows: A Failed Enterpreneur
Finally Gets It Right

Dal LaMagna, with Wally Carbone & Carla S. Reuben
John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2010, $24.95
If at first you don’t succeed...try tweezers. Failed waterbed vendor and drive-in discotheque guru LaMagna had his Eureka moment during a tryst on a splintery deck. His irreverent saga of building a socially responsible grooming tool empire is blurbed by Tom Hayden, Ralph Nader, and Ben & Jerry’s cofounder Ben Cohen, and even dishes some dirt on Dean Gitter.

The Word Project: Odd & Obscure Words—

Polly M. Law
Buttonwood Art Press, 2010, $20.95
Pssst, you with the Brobdingnagian vocabulary. Define godwottery, struthiform, and gumifiate. Okay, now illustrate more than 100 such words with bricolage figures crafted from buttons, feathers, and the odd bit of wire. Woodstock Artists Association Museum favorite Law has done all that and more in her delightful Kickstarter-funded opus, a great gift for literate art lovers.

Still Speaking of Nature: Further Explorations in the Natural World (Excelsior Editions)
Bill Danielson
Excelsior Editions, 2011, $19.95
“Spring is a diva, and she will not be rushed,” declares naturalist, teacher, and Albany Times Union columnist Danielson in the first of 28 graceful, observant, informative essays about life in our own backyard. Topics range from local songbirds to winter endurance—how various species contend with deep snow (headfirst, if you’re a grouse).

"Accelerating on the Curves: The Artist's Roadmap to Success"
Katharine T. Carter & Associates
Running Hare Press, 2010, $95
Celebrating 25 years as the country’s preeminent publicity and marketing firm for visual artists, Kinderhook’s Katharine T. Carter & Associates has released a pricy but invaluable step-by-step guide to mapping a successful art career, with practical essays by 21 curators, critics, and gallery owners; sample pitch letters and resumes; and 60+ pages of timely resource listings.

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