Barbara Herman has spent the better part of the past six years taking a deep nosedive into the world of vintage fragrances. Her quest has been to find the bold, sexy and downright odd smells that have defined women over the decades.
The result is a book called Scent And Subversion: Decoding A Century Of Provocative Perfume. It explains how, at the turn of the 20th century, most perfumes were still just one note, floral. Then, a now-iconic perfume came along — one that combined musk with a traditional floral scent.
It's been nearly 70 years since the end of World War II, but Croatian writer Dasa Drndic makes the war and its countless horrors feel fresh and urgent in her latest novel "Trieste." Ellen Elias-Bursac translated the book into English.
With a running time of more than nine hours, Claude Lanzmann's monumental 1985 documentary, Shoah, was never destined to become a mass audience draw. But this sober, taxing, utterly absorbing attempt to document the Holocaust grows ever more essential precisely as our collective memory is increasingly eroded by the reductive shorthand of emaciated bodies or piles of shoes discarded by concentration-camp inmates as they went to their terrible fate. For Lanzmann, understanding trumps empathy.
Josiane Balasko's Demi-Soeur suggests that modern pharmaceuticals can abet the storytelling in an old-fashioned sentimental farce: A dose of Ecstasy is all that's required to activate the relationship between Nenette (Balasko), a 60-year-old with the understanding of a first-grader, and her previously unknown half-brother Paul (Michel Blanc).