I finally got my hands on a copy of Joseph Gandy: An Architectural Visionary in Georgian England, and am absolutely giddy over it.
Brian Lukacher's text is well-written and exceedingly thorough. Thankfully, he isn't content to class Gandy as some sort of ex nihilo visionary (cf. the early comic-strip collection Art Out of Time). For example, he wisely positions Gandy's more otherworldly effects "in the late Georgian visual culture of eidophusikons, illuminated transparencies, and phantasmagoric theaters that flourished especially in London."
Apropos of which, here's Gandy's 1805 watercolor Pandemonium, or Part of the High Capital of Satan and His Peers:
You can click on the image to enlarge it. If this painting appeals to you at all, you'll be thrilled with the rest of the book.
Starting on October 17, Drawn and Quarterly is releasing Tove Jansson's complete Moomin strips, in five volumes. When I was about nine, I found a small, oblong paperback of Moomin strips in Finnish at a community garage sale. I couldn't make heads or tails of it, but that didn't stop me from carting it around everywhere, as a sort of talisman. Other than that, I've only seen a couple of amateur, xeroxed translations of a few strips - despite the fact that Tove Jansson is one of my favorite writers (and people) on earth - so as you might imagine, I'm very excited to get hold of this collection. And of course, anyone who hasn't read the novels should do so. Echidne wrote a lovely tribute to Tove Jansson and the Moomin books some months back, and - as always - got it exactly right:
Her books are very much about difference and how to live with it, about accepting people as they are, not as we would like them to be, and about compromise. But she never preaches.
The Center for Land Use Interpretation's Overlook is well worth picking up. I discussed the CLUI at some length here, so I won't repeat myself. As the publisher says, "the CLUI serves as a kind of curator of the American landscape, a tour guide through ghost towns and show caves, past soap and shoelace factories, to open pit mines, casinos, landfills, and art installations, to the dry lakes where atomic bombs were tested and the ersatz villages where rescue workers train for toxic spills and other disasters. Sites like these rarely appear on street maps, but the Center believes that they are windows into the American psyche, landmarks that manifest the rich ambiguities of the nation's cultural history."
Also, Spirit of the Beehive - one of the most beautiful movies ever made - is finally coming out on Criterion. Watch it. Then watch it again.