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    new england literary news | jan gardner

    Recalling a photojournalist, sampling books about rock

    A photo from “Juxtapositions: Images from the Newseum Ted Polumbaum Photo Collection”
    A photo from “Juxtapositions: Images from the Newseum Ted Polumbaum Photo Collection”

    Photojournalism on display

    Ted Polumbaum turned to photojournalism after being fired from a newswriting job in 1953 for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. His photo assignments included Jackie Kennedy and Julia Child as well as revolution in Chile and trash collectors in Cambridge. His work appeared in Life, Look, and Time magazines. A longtime Cambridge resident, he died in 2001 at age 76.

    Now his daughter Judy Polumbaum has edited a book of his work, “Juxtapositions: Images from the Newseum Ted Polumbaum Photo Collection” (Gau House). In it, a picture of sharecropper cabins in rural Mississippi sits opposite an image of a cart-hauler posed with his family outside their home in Madras, India. Across from a close-up of artist Thomas Hart Benton’s craggy face is the deeply lined face of a peddler in China.

    Judy Polumbaum will be in conversation with photographer Lou Jones, a friend of her late father, at 7 p.m. Sept. 12 at Trident Booksellers & Café in Boston. She’ll also give talks at 2:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at Lincoln Public Library in Lincoln and at 7 p.m. Sept. 26 at Porter Square Books in Cambridge.

    There’s music in the air

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    Among the author readings filling up calendars around town are three engagements designed to capture the hearts and minds of rock music fans:

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    In “Just Around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination” (Harvard University), University of Virginia professor Jack Hamilton explores how rock ‘n’ roll came to be defined as “white,” despite that early on Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley had been such influential rock artists. Hamilton will speak at 7 p.m. Sept. 29 at the Harvard Coop.

    Patti Smith’s 2015 memoir “M Train” (Knopf) is a meditation on the everyday, travel, life, and loss. Smith, a 2007 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, won wide acclaim for marrying poetry to rock. She’ll be in conversation with Michael Patrick MacDonald at 7 p.m. Oct. 11 at Berklee Performance Center. Tickets are $25 and include a paperback copy of the book. MacDonald is a longtime fan of Smith who wrote about her in “Easter Rising: A Memoir of Roots and Rebellion” (Mariner). Brookline Booksmith is sponsoring the event.

    Robbie Robertson, a member of the Band and a songwriter whose credits include “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and “Up on Cripple Creek,” and a special guest to be announced will discuss Robertson’s UPCOMING memoir “Testimony” (Crown) at 7 p.m. Nov. 17 at St. James’s Episcopal Church, 1991 Mass. Ave., Cambridge. Tickets, $30 and available through Porter Square Books, include a copy of “Testimony,” which traces Robertson’s career and the history of rock over five decades.

    Gaiman’s ‘Sandman’ honored

    “The Sandman: Overture” (Vertigo), written by Cambridge resident Neil Gaiman and illustrated by J.H. Williams III, was honored at the 74th World Science Fiction Convention with a Hugo Award for best graphic story. It is a prequel to Gaiman’s long-running best-selling comic book series. The annual WorldCon was held Aug. 20 in Kansas City, Mo. The awards, in about a dozen categories, are determined by a vote of World Science Fiction Society members.

    Coming out

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     “Perfume River” by Robert Olen Butler (Atlantic Monthly)

     “The Risen” by Ron Rash (Ecco)

     “Sleeping on Jupiter” by Anuradha Roy (Graywolf)

    Pick of the Week

    Elizabeth Merritt of Titcomb’s Bookshop in East Sandwich recommends “Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France” by Craig Carlson (Sourcebooks): “Readers of this charming memoir will cheer for Carlson as he follows his dream of opening a restaurant in another country. Thanks to Carlson it is now possible to get hearty pancakes at Breakfast in America, the first American-style diner in Paris.”

    Jan Gardner can be reached at JanLGardner@yahoo.com.