Profile for BowedBookshelf > Reviews

Browse

BowedBookshelf's Profile

Customer Reviews: 34
Top Reviewer Ranking: 56,708
Helpful Votes: 71




Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
BowedBookshelf RSS Feed (Braintree, MA, United States)
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
pixel
Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises
Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises
Offered by Audible, Inc. (US)
Price: $29.95

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just for finance field insiders, this explains a lot..., June 6, 2014
Unelected Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner had more influence on the thoughts and motivations, successes and failures of ordinary Americans than Congress ever did in the years he was in office. While Congress played politics (and not very well at that), Geithner did a lot (some might say too much) with his global role as fire extinguisher.

And who <em>was</em> he? Those of us just watching his pronouncements and public speeches, or feeling the impact of his decisions really did not have a good picture of the man orchestrating the mayhem. <em>
<u>Stress Test</u>
</em> goes some way to explaining how he moved from President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York when the monetary crisis began to become U.S. Secretary of the Treasury in 2009, and what he was thinking as the crisis unfolded. It is not a book written for Wall Street insiders. It is written with the general American public, Europe, and other countries in mind. It is, in some sense, a White Paper on the crisis, telling of personalities, events, and lessons learned. It is well worth the time invested to read or listen to it.

Two thoughts competed for precedence as I listened to Geithner narrate the Random House audiobook production of his book. One was that he really is just an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances. He didn’t have a background in finance; he studied international affairs at Johns Hopkins. He never worked in the finance industry before getting a government job at Treasury in the International Affairs Division in the 1980's. There he met Rubin and Summers, and was named Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs in 1998.

The second thought that rivaled the “ordinary guy” theory was that he <em>does</em> has an extraordinary calm and one-or-two-steps-at-a time pragmatist mentality, a willingness to go “all in,” and a lack of interest in the trappings of wealth creation. I remember coming away from Robert Gates’ memoir thinking that only those that don’t want the fame and fortune that comes with vaunted public service must be the ones chosen to serve. (Remember Sam Nunn? He did his duty, oh so well, but he appeared to hate the limelight.) And Geithner must be an impressive thinker and proponent of his thinking in person and in writing, despite or perhaps because of, his measured and sometimes turgid prose. He consistently had strong supporters and powerful mentors all along his path. That doesn’t happen to everyone.

Something we may not value enough is his ability to withstand withering abuse from those who disagreed with him. While there may be, and undoubtedly will be, many who could do his job, not many could handle a crisis of that magnitude while listening, adjusting, and holding firm when necessary. It was a labor of love, doing that job at that time. It occurred to me that some who recommended him for the job wanted someone else to handle the crisis—to be a fall guy.

Somehow I remain convinced that disagreeing with his handling of the crisis (injecting cash, propping up illiquid banks, and overseeing TARP) needn’t have boiled over into personal attacks. It would have been far more useful to him and to all of us if those with reasonable alternative ideas could have presented them in a civil manner. The market scare showed us unfit and fat, at our ugliest. Nothing would have made me happier than to see the banks fail, if it weren’t that we were all involved.

Geithner’s method, though he freely admits it created “moral hazard” along the way, did bring us back with limited pain and loss, to a market higher than ever in a remarkably short period of time. If anything, this may be the thing that worries me the most. One could argue now that the cash injected into the system allowed us to paper over some of the inequity issues we face, despite changes made to the regulatory system. That someone makes an outsized salary can be remedied by tax reform, but the politics have become even more contentious and disabling. What worries me is that there weren’t enough lessons learned by the folks who needed to learn them.

Histories of the financial meltdown in 2007-2008 we have heard before, but what we learn from Geithner’s personal history is how the crisis looked from his desk, what he was thinking, who he was talking to, and how, as the crises widened, his perceptions changed or crystallized. This type of meltdown crisis will probably happen again, especially if our political system continues to fail. We may not use the methods Geithner used to repair the damage in the future, but everything he did will be considered in the next crisis, combed over and debated, regardless of political affiliation and ideology. This is because pragmatism really does trump ideology in a crisis, no matter what the pundits and politicians say. We wouldn’t want it any other way.


The Fear Artist
The Fear Artist
Price: $8.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars featuring Poke Rafferty, an Anglo-Asian male living in Bangkok, March 8, 2014
This review is from: The Fear Artist (Kindle Edition)
Bangkok becomes an international center of intrigue focused on its restive Muslim south and juggling its overheated, overaged male spy population who had happily retired themselves only to be called back into harness. More importantly, Hallinan has created his most interesting and powerful female character yet, Ming Li.

Ming Li is the Anglo-Chinese step-sister of Poke and she aids his latest attempt to uncover a psychopath bent on destroying those who know his shadowy past. Young, (female), smart, (vulnerable), and irreverent, Ming Li blasts through accepted modes of spycraft to intuit actions of the players in advance. She does not spare her brother who, as a member of the male ruling class, had no need to learn lessons of body language and intent early on.

What I loved: 1) Poke Rafferty’s humanity. When attacked by a man with a gun, he manages to save his attacker before rushing off to save himself. Fearful as Poke might have been, he was a good man first. Rafferty is willing to believe the best of people he suspects, reserves judgment on their behalf, and stretches to preserve their basic dignity despite their iniquities—not including the really bad man who deserved everything coming to him. 2) Ming Li. Where Rafferty sees ambiguity, Ming Li cuts through the dross with a rapier mind and lays flat broad swathes of bad folk. 3) The way the author ratchets up the tension by having a long-winded Russian collaborator slow the action with pages-long detail at a critical moment when Rafferty (and readers!) just want the facts. It’s a gentle, funny way to tense us up and preserve forward momentum.

Hallinan did very well in raising the temperature of this thriller, but he didn't succeed without flaw: I disliked what I saw as the artificial character of “Treasure” when I first met her. Later, I realized how entirely possible it was to have such a character, neglected, abused, and exploited, when a psychopath is in charge. But the psychopath and the daughter felt like weak links.

And herein lie my only quibble: I would have preferred, were it at all possible, to have a bad man with more ambiguity, depth, and moral equivocation than our bad man here. He was so dark, he seemed like a caricature, and made everyone else a little like a caricature also. I believe the general outline of these characters and places are quite the real thing, with only a few of their sketch lines missing.

But you know what? It would have been a completely different book had Hallinan made it difficult for us with moral ambiguity. One could even argue the bad man wasn't as bad as he made out, since he did something uncharacteristic for his nature at the end of the book, one assumes because he was a father after all. And after the big event in the final pages, only one body was found instead of two, so one of the two that were "taken out" will be back, I fear. Which will it be?

I like Hallinan’s books very much, and when one needs a dose of the heat and flavour of Southeast Asia, or of Thailand's wonderful, complicated "anything goes" acceptance, I recommend having your moral compass realigned by reading a couple of Hallinan's books. Onward [Buddhist] soldier…and tell us more tales.


The Queen of Patpong: A Poke Rafferty Thriller (Poke Rafferty Thrillers)
The Queen of Patpong: A Poke Rafferty Thriller (Poke Rafferty Thrillers)
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $9.78

5.0 out of 5 stars I felt completely simpatico with Hallinan's characters, March 8, 2014
Hallinan did such a good job getting us inside his characters and their lives, I felt as though I’d just spent a week in Southeast Asia. In this latest offering, Hallinan describes how one comes to live the life of a bar girl in Patpong, Bangkok. While undoubtedly fiction, it sounded plausible enough to describe the experiences of many country girls sold to the meat markets of the city, making their way the best they can.

Hallinan has the good sense to be matter-of-fact about life in Thailand. He is no apologist for a whole country or way of life, but he has a depth of sympathy for the reality of people’s lives and a deep and abiding love for people of honor, wherever he finds them. And he describes Thailand with the splash and fizz it deserves—one can smell the markets and hear the traffic. In The Queen of Patpong, Hallinan succeeds on many levels: Poke Rafferty daughter is acting in a school play, and it is described with such skill, one feels one has just read a particularly good newspaper review. One wants to race right out and book a ticket. The central mystery of the novel circles and mirrors the play ingeniously, and the play itself is central to a final resolution of the mystery. Hallinan deserves very high marks for this wonderful warm and friendly novel, and for sharing his imagination and his life with us.

I asked a friend once what was the draw of the TV serial Sex in the City. She replied that, for her, the strength and depth of the female friendships was the draw. She knew it was fiction, but it presented such a wonderful fiction that she watched it whenever she could. Hallinan has a little of that specialness in his books. There is such friendliness, such sincere human-to-human contact, one wants to be in that place. Kudos, Hallinan.


Crashed (Junior Bender #1) (A Junior Bender Mystery)
Crashed (Junior Bender #1) (A Junior Bender Mystery)
Price: $6.15

5.0 out of 5 stars "...This series is essentially all crooks...", March 8, 2014
Tim Hallinan wrote "creating crooks is more than half the fun...." in the “Author’s Note” to the first book in his new series featuring Junior Bender, "Burglar to the Stars," in Los Angeles. For those readers unfamiliar with Hallinan’s work, he has written a series set in Thailand featuring Poke Rafferty, a travel writer with a heart of gold and karma to burn. Rafferty makes a lot of sense (and friends) defending the underdog in unequal transactions and seems to grasp the essentially welcoming Thai society is not as morally deficient as it is painted by some critics, but has a strong sense of values that are easily transgressed by unwitting or unthinking Westerners.

In the Junior Bender series Hallinan turns his eagle eye on Los Angeles for a change. The reader can tell he is having a blast with the range of folks and the shifting sense of morality he encountered there. Hallinan still has a strong instinct for protecting the underdog: witness his lack of judgment about the drug addiction of his latest fictional charge, a young female actress on a downward spiral snookered into making a porn film. These are verboten subjects in Western educated circles but Hallinan doesn’t let it faze him. He has the “come to me with your handicaps” generosity of the Dalai or the Pope. And if those two men of god will fix your afterlife, Hallinan, and his henchman Junior Bender, will fix the here-and-now.

The pace in this novel is fast—the whole thing takes place in a couple of sleepless days (the reader may experience this also)-- and the subject matter is edgy. California is once again on the leading edge in reformulating “moral man.” But everybody is a crook of some sort, as Hallinan said in the opening quote to this review, so one has to roll with the attitude and take the material for the laughs. Moral insights are there, however, as they always are with Hallinan’s books, which makes it thought-provoking and good discussion material. How far would we be willing to go, given the same constraints or circumstances?

Check out the genesis of this series on TimothyHallinan.com. Hallinan is a man who doesn’t let a little negativity let him down. When his long-time publisher didn’t want an L.A. series, Hallinan self-published until Soho Crime picked him up. Now he has sold the film rights and the audio rights. But he’s got it going on now.


Little Elvises (Junior Bender #2) (A Junior Bender Mystery)
Little Elvises (Junior Bender #2) (A Junior Bender Mystery)
Price: $9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars One picks up a book by Tim Hallinan to have fun, March 8, 2014
There’s a little murder, sure…sometimes a lot of murder…but it’s usually the bad guys that “get it” and we rest easy, knowing there is someone out there who’d rob us blind if he could, but who won’t take more than we can afford to lose.

Hallinan’s creation, Junior Bender, is the kind of guy you might ask back to your house for a party, after he’d robbed it, just to ask how he did it. He’s that amusing.

The Junior Bender series of books is based in Los Angeles and captures the vibration of southern California precisely. If you’ve ever found yourself missing the place, you might want to pick up one of Hallinan’s books for a cure. Hallinan lasers in on defining characteristics, and picks up those things we thought we’d fixed with botox, or managed to hide with designer advice. He is brilliant at describing environments, in this case an old art deco apartment building with a view of the city purchased by crooked Koreans. Crumbling and unkempt on the outside, it is gloriously restored on the inside, with secret escapes and hidden garages, just perfect for hiding ill-gotten gains or for a man on the run.

Junior has a code of ethics that is not taught in any religion, but like many southern Californians, is just something he created out of whole cloth and “evolved” into. But we like this code, just as we like him. He is a thief, yes, but his heart is in the right place. Everyone wants his help at some time or another, even the cops, and if they don’t, well, mostly they want to lock him up or kill him. Which keeps Junior on his toes.

Junior has a family, and in this episode, his thirteen-year-old daughter, Rina, shows she is growing up into someone he can admire. Do I need to say she has computer skills that put her father to shame? And while she is not old enough to have a boyfriend, she has a friend that is a boy who is as special and interesting as everyone else in the family. We yearn to see more of him, and watch him grow.

Hallinan writes crime novels that defy the type. One can imagine finding a sprung-binding massmarket paperback of his with its delicious, distinctive single-color cover and woodcut silhouettes and opening to the first page…only hours later surfacing to reflect that one had found gold.


The Apocalypse Chase: Fishing in the world's most dangerous places
The Apocalypse Chase: Fishing in the world's most dangerous places
Price: $1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific fishing tale..., March 4, 2014
So what makes a good fishing tale? Perhaps it is a little like real estate: location, location, location (or, as the Australians like to say, “position, position, position...”) But it is more than that…it is the temperament of the fisherman, the poles, the flies, the weather, the obstacles to success…as well as the size of the catch. There also has to be a little time for contemplation, and ruminations about the state of the world, both personally and globally. All this is here for the taking in this first self-published novel by Graham Spence, co-author of several nonfiction titles about the African bush with the fabled conservationist Lawrence Anthony, who died in 2012.

I read this story in a day because Spence made this fiction absolutely propulsive. The central character, Chris, sells advertising for a small newspaper in Queens, New York and is bored with his life. He is middle-aged, divorced, and barely speaks to his wife or daughter anymore. After experiencing a “heart incident” in a meeting one day at work, he decides to go ahead and live before he dies. He wants to fish the wild places where fish have never seen a human. This is the tale.

He first chooses South Africa. The narrative shifts between moments of sunny calm with great, satisfying catches and moments of breath-catching, death-defying horror. The absolute best part of this narrative (who really trusts a fisherman/storyteller anyway?) are the details and keen insights that convince us that this is the real thing, the actual location, the true situation. It is fascinating. But Chris doesn’t end there.

The next location is Colombia, South America of all places. Chris thinks that no one in their right mind would go to Colombia with all the FARC activity and kidnappings, so he won't have any competition for fish. He researches locations and decides fishing along the coastline beaches and away from the jungle would probably be safe. His Colombia section just reminds us just what a fisherman (tall tales) Chris really is. But he is so good at storytelling and fishing, we find it hard to put the book down. He survives (!) his travels in Africa and South America and we move on. But I don’t want to give away all his secrets. This is something you need to discover for yourselves. I thought it was a blast.

So I discovered this title when I began researching the authors of THE ELEPHANT WHISPERER, an exceptionally well-written nonfiction about game conservation and elephant killings in Africa. Graham Spence has a low-key website on which he introduces his two self-published fiction titles, including this one.

Do yourself a favor. I can guarantee you will have an unusual (and terrific!) day’s reading ahead with a natural raconteur, especially if you like fly fishing stories.


Cold Storage, Alaska
Cold Storage, Alaska
Price: $12.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific screwball comedy that highlights Alaska's unusual inhabitants, February 6, 2014
Winter sets in long, cold, and lonely in Cold Storage, Alaska, but Straley sets us up with a comic narrative that takes most of the vinegar out of the population of “drunks and depressives” and sweetens it with romance. He introduces us to a fiercely independent and strangely cohesive group of folks who laugh (and make us laugh) in the face of adversity and who create the conditions for generosity of spirit. But not all is feasting on “King Salmon Every Day.” It continually astonishes me that characters in a fiction can make one feel actual sorrow and sadness, but we do in this one. Everything is going swimmingly and then something truly dreadful happens.

It is the year 2000 and Clive is thirty-five years old. He is being released from a seven-year prison stint in Seattle. After a brief detour to eat a fresh lettuce salad, Clive goes to collect his share of criminal proceeds from his pre-incarceration drug sales days. He is aiming for a small coastal town in Alaska where his brother, Miles, and his mother still reside.

Cold Storage is a failing fishing village of 150 residents on the outer coast of southeastern Alaska, originally settled by Norwegian fisherman who felt at home in the steep-sided fjord-like bay: “She’s hell for snug except when it’s coming straight down.” Some of my favorite passages in this novel come when Straley is describing the surrounding countryside, the changing quality of the water, the luminescent sky, the ragged rim of trees.

This novel is a little hard to characterize. It is not mystery, but it could be romance, though it is an unusual example of the genre. Falling in love is no more remarkable in Cold Storage than falling out of love. Both provide important entertainment to residents even when they themselves are not directly involved, except perhaps through the placing of bets on the timing of who is falling in or out of bed with whom...

No, this is a crime novel, though law enforcement is rarely in sight, and is the butt of jokes when it does come calling. This story is all about the ‘crims’ and their extended family of friends and partners in crime. We empathize with these oddball characters, many of whom act much as we have done (though we don’t wish to admit or recall), and all of whom change in the year or so since we meet them.

Straley claims in interviews “…I do not recognize revenge as the lifeblood of a great plot,” but he introduces a little revenge in this novel that ends up upending his screwball comedy and changing lives forever. Straley then tells us his secret: “I still believe that love and compassion are what move through the hearts of all great characters.” And that’s exactly what we like about them.


The Roving Party
The Roving Party

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you read only one debut this year, make it this one, February 6, 2014
This review is from: The Roving Party (Kindle Edition)
This haunting debut by Rohan Wilson is a grim but beautifully written and evocative retelling of the clearing of Van Diemen’s Land for white settlers. Darkly imagined and unblinkingly told, Wilson features a black man raised white as one of two central characters. He is called Black Bill, or The Vandemonian. Vandemonian is a term white settlers of Van Dieman’s Land called themselves. Bill travels with and aids the ‘roving party’ as they seek to kill or capture aborigines in the area that came to be called Tasmania.

The other is major character is Batman, [...], a historical figure born in Sydney of British parents and who settled in Tasmania’s northeast. Batman led roving parties over a period of years during the ‘Black Wars’ that is the subject of this novel. The roving party has two more black scouts, both from Parramatta near Sydney, who join for payment. Much of the rest of the group are poor damned men, recently released white convicts who seek government pardons for their efforts.

Wilson balances on a knife’s edge in re-creating the real life that fills this story, rounding out his two main characters by instilling in them a steely-eyed savagery, an ability to coldly reason and plot their advantages, and a blessed and unexpected charity. Rich language and complex characterizations makes this tragedy the marvel it is, and Wilson is positively Shakespearean in adding comic relief with the occasional buffoonery of some of the rovers.

The raid depicted in this novel is a recorded event that took place in September 1829. Batman led an attack on a large group of Plindermairhemener clan aborigines who were headed by the witch Manalargena. <Blockquote>"Foremost among that singular horde was Manalargena who carried across his shoulder a waddy shaped from blackwood and stained with the filth of war…his wife had ochred his hair into long ringlets as precise as woven rope…the beard on his chin was matted, and the lank twists as red as a rooster’s wattle jiggled as he walked about…"
[...]

On this raid, Batman takes hostage a young mother and her child. He sends the mother off to the penal colony down south while he keeping the child in his own household. But it is Black Bill we watch with such terrible intensity throughout the novel, praying that his motivation becomes, if not acceptable, at least understandable. He knows Manalargena, and hosted his band at his home.

There is very little modern-day sensibility here and we feel transported to a different time. Whatever dislocation non-Australians might feel with the language, the weapons, the plants and animals unique to the continent ‘down under’, one <i>knows</i> in one’s heart and gut the bald truth of the white man’s sense of ‘manifest destiny’: What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine. That each of our continents experienced it makes this terrible tale no less potent.

Originally published by Allen & Unwin in Australia in 2011, this book won the Vogel Literary Award there in that year. It has also won the 2013 Tasmania Literary Award Margaret Scott Prize, and the 2012 New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award. It was shortlisted for the numerous other awards. It deserves all this attention for as a debut this is an extraordinary achievement. For more history of the time and place recorded in this fiction, see this Wikipedia [...] for Ben Lomond Mountain in northeast Tasmania.

It turns out that Black Bill was real, too. His name was William Ponsonby. Rohan Wilson [...] the experience of writing his first novel and winning the Vogel Prize. His writing schedule and methods are revealed [...] in an interview.


Zagreb Cowboy
Zagreb Cowboy
by Alen Mattich
Edition: Paperback
11 used & new from $20.19

5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful new voice in fiction, this time from Croatia, February 1, 2014
This review is from: Zagreb Cowboy (Paperback)
Alen Mattich’s first of a series may just be the most fun since Tarantino’s movie Reservoir Dogs hit the silver screen. In Zagreb Cowboy , the security landscape during the breakup of Yugoslavia into Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Slovenia, Kosovo, Montenegro (did I miss anything?) is more than a little farcical, with teams of security personnel following each other, carrying Bulgarian knock-offs of Berettas that misfire with ammunition that doesn’t kill. When it makes financial or political sense, the pursuers will align with the object of their pursuit against a third team in a constantly shifting series of pas de deux.

Mattich gets the tone just right by creating a series of hapless but sympathetic characters--some more sympathetic than others—who are less zealous defenders of the political realm than they are working men and women finding ways to keep body and soul together while stoking dreams of emigration. I don’t think anyone actually get killed, though there is plenty of shooting going on. There is much praise given to German engineering and the civilized British lifestyle, comparing everywhere--Italy, Spain, France, and America--more favorably than home.

But one of my favorite passages in this book describes the pleasures and blessings of a simple country life “at home”:

Strumbi had around twenty rows of vines, along with fruit trees, mostly plums and pears, which he picked in the summer, fermented, and then cooked into a potent spirit alcohol. And then there was the ancient cherry tree that turned the ground purple with its juice in August.

The house itself was built on top of an old wine hut. The thick and roughly made concrete-and-stone walls now formed a self-contained ground-level cellar, where Strumbi matured the wine he made from his own grapes, distilled his spirits, and hung cured hams and salamis that he bought from the local villagers. Above the cellar was the house he’d built, one full storey under a steeply pitched roof. In all there was a large sitting room and balcony that looked out over the valley, a kitchen, a bathroom and two bedrooms, one of which Strumbi used as an office.

But mostly when he was there, Strumbi sat in the cellar or at a rickety table by the side of the house under the huge cherry tree’s canopy. It was an idyll…and [our hero, della Torre] always looked forward to invitations there.

Our intrepid hero, della Torre, comes from Istrian stock: “Political maps showed that in her ninety years, della Torre’s grandmother had lived in six different countries without once moving from the village in which she’d been born.” He works for Department VI, the UDBA’s (state intelligence) internal investigative service. He is a lawyer, primarily responsible for investigating extrajudicial killings. He is a good man in a confusing world. He’s someone we’d be pleased to know…I think…unless he comes to visit leading that string of hitmen…

A second book in the series, Killing Pilgrim is out Feb 2014.


Couture Sewing: The Couture Cardigan Jacket, Sewing secrets from a Chanel Collector
Couture Sewing: The Couture Cardigan Jacket, Sewing secrets from a Chanel Collector
by Claire B. Shaeffer
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.53
57 used & new from $15.78

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Claire Shaeffer has a series of these books on couture sewing techniques, November 19, 2013
While I am not the type to actually wear a couture jacket (a Chanel jacket with jeans, say, is not my favorite combination) I do admit to admiring the luxury of the material and the exquisite craftsmanship of the creation.

There were a number of techniques discussed here that could be applied to effect on other projects one wanted to upgrade to the level of fine art. For instance, you may have wondered why certain items of clothing you have owed (or borrowed from a friend or relative) lasted so well, and could take the abuse of daily living without showing the effects. Perhaps sometime you admired the drape of a jacket fabric without knowing quite how they achieved that custom fit. Without taking the garment apart, you were never going to uncover the mystery.

Author Claudia Shaeffer does all that for us and more. She shows us the machine and hand sewing techniques for each stage of the jacket process. One part I found most interesting was the cutting and seam-marking. It may seem obvious to some, but thread-marking the seams rather than using some other marker is clearly superior to anything else I can think of when one is cutting from a large piece of fabric with an obvious graphic. (I am not talking about Chanel jackets here, but using unique fabrics for specialized projects).

Buttonholing, sleeve side vents, applying gimp trim and pockets are all discussed, and it should come as no surprise that good results comes from careful attention to detail and patient hand sewing techniques. These are projects in which one must revel in the process rather than simply the product. But with the right kind of desire, one can produce lovely, long-lasting and unique pieces of clothing art…and it doesn’t have to look like Chanel unless you want it to.

Shaeffer includes high-quality and useful close-up pictures in the book of the techniques she describes, and has many gorgeous photographs of Chanel jackets through the years. While I did not see the DVD included with the book, it must be an equally useful master course in couture fitting. For an aspiring tailor, clothing designer, or seamstress, to find a teacher for these techniques is as rare as hen’s teeth. Artisans that can do these things can rarely explain it. Shaeffer has done that AND produced a book with beautiful, clear photographs that you can reference again and again as you struggle to achieve something unique.

As I went to post this review, I discovered that Claire B. Shaeffer has an entire line of books and DVD sets on couture sewing techniques. Her line is wonderfully priced by the indispensable craft publisher Taunton Press. Creating works of art by hand makes better people of us—those who appreciate the time and effort involved in success and failure and beauty. We begin to understand talent, patience, perseverance…those things that will make a difference to us in our lives and loves. If you know an aspiring fabric-ator, the name Claire B. Shaeffer is a useful name to know.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 20, 2014 6:40 AM PDT


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4