Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Speed Reader

By Blake de Pastino, Sue Schuurman, Nick Brown and Jessica English

OCTOBER 13, 1997: 

The Journey Is the Destination
by Dan Eldon (Chronicle, cloth, $27.50)

James Dean and Diana fistfight in heaven. But if you're looking for a real martyr of popular culture, Dan Eldon is it. At the age of 22, he was working as a photojournalist in Somalia when a crowd enraged by UN bombings stoned him to death along with three other journalists. Though an accomplished photographer, Eldon carried another legacy with him that no one had discovered until his death--more than 1,000 pages of collaged drawings, writings and photos, which he used to document his private life since the age of 15. Partly reprinted here, Eldon's journal illustrates a man of unending artistic energy, documenting his travels in Africa, his bitter break-ups, the slow dissolution of his family--all with found objects, grotesque sketches and exuberant swaths of color. Eldon understood his culture--and himself--better than most people of any age. This should be the book that seals his place in posterity. (BdeP)

The Farewell Symphony
by Edmund White (Knopf, cloth, $25)

Like the single remaining violinist in Haydn's symphony, Edmund White finds himself alone, most of his friends having died from AIDS. His circle of brilliant writers and intellectuals in bohemian Greenwich Village during the '60s and '70s is fondly recalled here in the final volume of White's autobiographical trilogy. But this survivor's tale is far from depressing; White doesn't dwell on his lovers' illnesses. He chooses instead to emphasize their lives--their insatiable appetites for sex, for knowledge, for the meaning of life through literature. At turns gossipy, profound, raucous and poignant, White's struggles to get published and get laid are never gratuitous; there is simply no veil between his intimate disclosures and the reader. But don't expect a confession--this is a celebration, and a beautiful one. (SS)

The Unimaginable Life
by Kenny and Julia Loggins (Avon, cloth, $24)

Kenny Loggins is an incredibly talented performer, vocalist and songwriter who has, in recent years, fallen somewhat out of fashion. This much having been said, it should also be noted that his sappy new book makes him look like a creep. Co-written by Kenny's most recent wife, nutritionist Julia Loggins, the book has enough letters, embarrassing journal entries, poetry and new-age sewage to make you crawl right out of your skin. It would, therefore, make a funny gift. It comes with a CD-ROM multimedia experience that I accidentally-on-purpose didn't ROM. A light skimming of the tome reveals that Kenny embraces not only his most recent wife but a philosophy that could rationalize the seduction of one's secretary, or nutritionist, as the case may be. Don't you believe it, sinners. (NB)

On the Surface of Things
by Felice Frankel and George M. Whitesides (Chronicle, paper, $22.95)

When viewing a painting, you may analyze the way light is used to create an effect. Photographer Felice Frankel also would--but on a microscopic level. She and George M. Whitesides, creators of On the Surface of Things, have played with the relationship of light and objects within the realm of science, using high-tech photographic equipment, sparse yet informative text and scales for an understanding of the size of the objects. What results is the sleekest, savviest science coffee-table book ever. Subtitled "Images of the Extraordinary," this book was born of the concept that science is something that most people fear and dread, having been forced through unbearable mathematical equations in high-school physics. From photos of DNA strands to crystalline particles, you'll be surprised how art deco science really is, and just how easy it is to understand. (JE)

--Blake de Pastino, Susan Schuurman, Nick Brown and Jessica English

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