An empathetic, smartly composed journey through a changing land.


Chinese Turkestan


Monochrome slice-of-life photographs of the westernmost province of China and the easternmost stretch of the Turkic diaspora.

Noted adventurer and photographer Pyle (The Middle Kingdom Ride, 2013) had long felt drawn from a Western perspective to one of the remotest places on Earth: Chinese Turkestan. Long the home of the Uyghur people, a branch of the Turkic-speaking culture that spans the continent of Asia to the Mediterranean, it’s also a region that’s politically fraught. The native Uyghur, increasingly displaced by Han Chinese, hold fast to their national identity even as the government of China directs their lives and rebuilds houses and streets around them. But the photographer steers clear of politics in this book; “as the project evolved,” he explains in his introduction, “it developed a softer, more personal focus.” He shows hardworking Uyghur baking new bricks, but readers don’t learn how Beijing will put these bricks to use. Meanwhile, in Kashgar, metalworkers beat blades into knives and spoons, and village men inspect birds they’re about to send into the cockfighting ring. In the center of Khotan, a boy plays in the middle of a construction site; bareheaded women pass through city streets alongside women in full niqab; and men wearing white ceremonial robes over heavy coats dance to celebrate the end of Ramadan outside the Id Kah Mosque. It’s a herding and ranching culture, so alive and dead sheep, goats, and the odd cow feature in the photos, and it’s clear that for them, this isn’t a happy place. “Behind every face there is a personal story,” Pyle writes, and his many pictures certainly provide the proof. Readers will feel as though they can smell the cooking nang, hear the bleats of the animals, and feel the dryness of the air. The layout of the book, however, is somewhat problematic: faces are often cut in two by their placement along the volume’s spine. That said, the faces that readers do see feel entirely real.

An empathetic, smartly composed journey through a changing land.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9928644-0-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Ryan Pyle Productions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.


A noted critic advises us to dance to the music of art.

Senior art critic at New York Magazine and winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism, Saltz (Seeing Out Louder, 2009, etc.) became a writer only after a decadeslong battle with “demons who preached defeat.” Hoping to spare others the struggle that he experienced, he offers ebullient, practical, and wise counsel to those who wonder, “How can I be an artist?” and who “take that leap of faith to rise above the cacophony of external messages and internal fears.” In a slim volume profusely illustrated with works by a wide range of artists, Saltz encourages readers to think, work, and see like an artist. He urges would-be artists to hone their power of perception: “Looking hard isn’t just about looking long; it’s about allowing yourself to be rapt.” Looking hard yields rich sources of visual interest and also illuminates “the mysteries of your taste and eye.” The author urges artists to work consistently and early, “within the first two hours of the day,” before “the pesky demons of daily life” exert their negative influence. Thoughtful exercises underscore his assertions. To get readers thinking about genre and convention, for example, Saltz presents illustrations of nudes by artists including Goya, Matisse, Florine Stettheimer, and Manet. “Forget the subject matter,” he writes, “what is each of these paintings actually saying?” One exercise instructs readers to make a simple drawing and then remake it in an entirely different style: Egyptian, Chinese ink-drawing, cave painting, and the styles of other artists, like Keith Haring and Georgia O’Keeffe. Freely experiment with “different sizes, tools, materials, subjects, anything,” he writes. “Don’t resist something if you’re afraid it’s taking you far afield of your usual direction. That’s the wild animal in you, feeding.” Although much of his advice is pertinent to amateur artists, Saltz also rings in on how to navigate the art world, compose an artist’s statement, deal with rejection, find a community of artists, and beat back demons. Above all, he advises, “Work, Work, Work.”

A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08646-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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A dazzling visual homage to a music icon gone too soon.


A Los Angeles–based photographer pays tribute to a legendary musician with anecdotes and previously unseen images collected from their 25-year collaboration.

St. Nicholas (co-author: Whitney: Tribute to an Icon, 2012, etc.) first met Prince in 1991 at a prearranged photo shoot. “The dance between photographer and subject carried us away into hours of inspired photographs…and the beginning of a friendship that would last a lifetime.” In this book, the author fondly remembers their many professional encounters in the 25 years that followed. Many would be portrait sessions but done on impulse, like those in a burned-out Los Angeles building in 1994 and on the Charles Bridge in Prague in 2007. Both times, the author and Prince came together through serendipity to create playfully expressive images that came to represent the singer’s “unorthodox ability to truly live life in the moment.” Other encounters took place while Prince was performing at Paisley Park, his Minneapolis studio, or at venues in LA, New York, Tokyo, and London. One in particular came about after the 1991 release of Prince’s Diamonds and Pearls album and led to the start of St. Nicholas’ career as a video director. Prince, who nurtured young artists throughout his career, pushed the author to “trust my instincts…expand myself creatively.” What is most striking about even the most intimate of these photographs—even those shot with Mayte Garcia, the fan-turned–backup dancer who became Prince’s wife in 1996—is the brilliantly theatrical quality of the images. As the author observes, the singer was never not the self-conscious artist: “Prince was Prince 24/7.” Nostalgic and reverential, this book—the second St. Nicholas produced with/for Prince—is a celebration of friendship and artistry. Prince fans are sure to appreciate the book, and those interested in art photography will also find the collection highly appealing.

A dazzling visual homage to a music icon gone too soon.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-293923-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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