Aurora’s Anticipated Non-Fiction: August

Surreal Spaces: The Life and Art of Leonora Carrington by Joanna Moorhead

The work of surrealist artist and writer Leonora Carrington (1917-2011) glimmers with its own sideways species of magic, her landscapes like incantations spun from gilded half-light, run through with a revolving cast of ghosts and chimeras, haunted horses and glowing eggs. Given the mysteriousness of her oeuvre, it’s little wonder that Carrington has become something of a mythic figure. Yet the facts of her life are no less intriguing than anything her mythologizers might invent, as Joanna Moorhead makes apparent in her vivid new biography of the artist. Surreal Spaces takes the reader along for a pilgrimage through Carrington’s life in dwellings, from the gothic halls of her upper-crust family’s English manor, where Carrington rebelled as a reluctant debutante, to her beloved Mexico City, by way of art-star-studded Paris, a Spanish sanatorium (to which Carrington was committed as “incurably insane”), and an escape from Europe to New York as World War II got underway. Those already acquainted with Carrington will relish this intimate glimpse into the worlds the artist inhabited as she dreamed her own into being. For the uninitiated, Surreal Spaces offers a tantalizing introduction to a fascinating woman, as well as a spirited dash through twentieth-century art history as lived by one of its trailblazers.

For fans of women in the arts, surrealism, art history, and obscure travel destinations.


Kings of Their Own Ocean: Tuna, Obsession, and the Future of Our Seas by Karen Pinchin

Kings of Their Own Ocean tracks the adventures of another dauntless, globetrotting female, though of a rather different sort. This tale’s heroine was of considerably larger girth, for example, with skin that coruscated prismatically in times of stress, and a sickle-shaped tail capable of beating almost as fast as hummingbirds’ wings. Tagged by a conservation-minded charter fishing boat captain off the coast in Rhode Island in 2004, Amelia the Atlantic bluefin tuna made waves when she resurfaced fourteen years later caught in a fishing net near Portugal in 2018. Amelia’s cross-Atlantic journey busted conventional (see also: commercially expedient) wisdom about bluefins’ migration patterns and placed the itinerant tuna squarely at the junction of geopolitics, fishing industry scheming, and marine science. By showcasing Amelia’s epic travels, investigative journalist Karen Pinchin casts her net over the bigger-picture fish story of human-tuna relations through the ages. She charts how a 1970s sushi craze spurred a rapid expansion of the tuna fishing industry, with serious consequences for undersea ecosystems, before turning a hopeful eye to the present-day fight for more conscious, sustainable stewardship of the oceans. Pinchin’s lyrical prose and her obvious admiration for the Atlantic bluefin – a piscine predator whose star quality has been largely overlooked in the Shark Week fervor for its more (in)famous competitor – make Kings of Their Own Ocean an exhilarating and appropriately pelagic last-gasp-of-summer read. 

For seafarers and landlubbers alike.  

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