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Building interest

Posted by Jan Gardner  November 11, 2008 09:02 AM

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For well over 40 years, Ada Louise Huxtable has been critiquing buildings. She established the beat of architecture critic at The New York Times in 1963 and won a Pulitzer in 1970 for her distinguished criticism.

Now hundreds of her columns from the Times, New York Review of Books, and The Wall Street Journal have been gathered under one roof in "On Architecture: Collected Reflections on a Century of Change."

Dipping into the book, curious to see what she's written about New England, I found plenty: the library at Phillips Exeter Academy, the Walter Gropius House in Lincoln, the Philip Johnson Glass House down in Connecticut. There's plenty about Frank Lloyd Wright's work, too, and I finally got over to the Zimmerman House in Manchester, N.H., to see one of his buildings for myself. The house, owned by the Currier Museum of Art, is loaded with artful features -- the wall of glass in the back of the house, the lighting meant to mimic sunlight filtering through trees, the indoor garden with its own underground watering system.

The fascinating tour by a museum docent made me remember I'd wanted to read "Death in a Prairie House: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Murders" by William R. Drennan. It's a gripping true-crime read that conveys an understanding of the complex forces at work within Wright. I still want to read a full-length biography of the man (Brendan Gill's and Meryle Secrest's sound good) but for now I've gone off in another direction. Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger," a novel about a kind of Horatio Alger figure in India, won the Man Booker Prize this year, though its detractors seem to be particularly vocal. We'll see.

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About off the shelf News about books, authors, and publishers from The Boston Globe.
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Nicole Lamy is editor of the Globe's Books section.
Jan Gardner writes the "Shelf Life" column for the Globe's Books section.
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