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Reviews of Midget Exhibit: Images from the Heyday of Dwarf Display, Put the Needle on the Record: The 1980s at 45 Revolutions Per Minute, and Ghosts and Ballyhoo: Memoirs of a Failed L.A. Music Journalist

"Snazzy is as Snazzy Does!"
Gwen Joy is an artist who specializes in colorful folk art paintings. 
Life experience is her subject matter which is translated in a lyrical/mythical fashion.
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In the book Midget Exhibit: Images from the Heyday of Dwarf Display Mary L Martin and Tina Skinner document midgets' lives. Naturally a lot are circus performers and this is naturally documented. A good portion of the book documents their day to day personal events like birthdays and special celebrations like marriages. This gives the book a warm and personal quality. The photos range from sweet to bizarre to brave to discreet. The lives of midgets do hold a fascination for many and this is a terrific collection for adults and children. This book is historically significant, fun and informative.

In the collection Put the Needle on the Record: The 1980s at 45 Revolutions Per Minute Matthew Chojnacki showcases the album covers of his record collection. It definitely reflects the spunky, colorful, and unique time of the 80's. This was the decade where visuals really connected to music due to the start of MTV and the highly playful and original music videos and album cover art made in the 80's. Keith Harring designed energetic covers for Sylvestor and Emanon and folk artist James Rizzi painted an image for Tom Tom Club's Genius of Love. Standouts in this collection include Cyndi Lauper's What's Going On stylistically dadaist cover which was shot by Annie Leibovitz and is inspired by Man Ray's photo Larmes and the arresting 40's pinup cover of Kate Bush's Army Dreamers. With a foreword by Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters and an afterword by Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran this book is even more necessary for those who feel nostalgic affect for the 80's iconic clothing styles and diverse and unique music styles.

     The autobiographical account by Thomas Wictor Ghosts and Ballyhoo: Memoirs of a Failed L.A. Music Journalist is personal, funny, and describes a lot of motivations of people in the music industry. Wictor moved around a bit as a child and felt a bit like an outsider during his young years. He found his passion and some acceptance in the music scene. His book centers around two main figures other than himself mainly. These people are his ex girlfriend Carmen and Frank Zappa's bassist Scott Thunes. Wictor's relationships fail, he is taken advantage of by various people and his music journalist career ends. He does end up writing a german weapon book and a book with many of his more remarkable interviewers with musicians; many are bass players due to his many years of working for Bass Player magazine. Obviously Wictor does look back on many of his articles and interviews fondly. The part he does not remember fondly is the bitter politics in the publishing industry and the mind games editors play. This is an enjoyable book perfect for music fans, pop culture fanatics, writers and those who dig studying human nature.

I will be reviewing books by Schiffer Publishing every month. For more information please visit