Music in Every Room: Around the World in a Bad Mood , by John Krich (Atlantic Monthly Press, $7.95). "Lo, I will be Magellan with toothbrush!" exults the author of this exuberantly irascible travel memoir, as he stands on a mountain trail in Nepal at the outset of his journey across Asia. "I can find myself only in disaster." And disaster, misadventure and disillusionment are exactly what await him and his grouchy companion, Iris, from the Himalayas on through China, Macao, Hong Kong, Bali, Bangkok, India and numerous other exotic locales. Seeking the authentic East, they find instead ever crasser and tackier versions of the West-"Continual Hot Shower! Miraculous Bedding! Sanified W.C! Music in Every Room!" as an Indian hotel handbill promises. Yet a spirit of generous curiosity shines through Krich's curmudgeonly performance and one returns to San Francisco with him and Iris having been thoroughly entertained.
Alexander Rodchenko introduced by Serge Lemoine (Pantheon, $7.95). Painter, sculptor, typographer, furniture and set designer etc. etc., Alexander Rodchenko (1891-1956) was one of the most celebrated artists of the Russian revolutionary period and a leader of the artistic movement known as Constructivism. When in the 1920s Rodchenko discovered photography, he immediately saw its possibilities in terms of constructivist principles, which placed emphasis on the materials used and on forms suggested by the mechanical and industrial world, an "aesthetics of machinery." With his typically tilted, hard-edged angles and distorted perspectives, he captured the fledgling Soviet Union-streets, factories, squares, students, soldiers-in images which adorned countless magazine covers and posters in the '20s and '30s and which have helped to form our mental picture of revolutionary Russia since. Here is a collection of Rodchenko's best photographs and graphic designs from that period.
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