No one has done the voice inside the head, ever present as we dice and chop life’s minutiae into apposite syllables— that “murmur, now precise as the headwaiter’s”—so accurately as Samuel Beckett. He remains the master of depicting mental paralysis, registering with circular syntax (there
“Predictably—and understandably— more pressing problems than saving dirt usually carry the day,” writes David R. Montgomery. But as his new book, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, details, we are losing the brown stuff far, far too quickly. Unlike maritime dead zones and radical climate change,
Ernest Jones had the urge to stand out. A small man, he learned early how to make himself visible through his bearing, his clothes, his mannerisms. And he learned how to distinguish himself—no ordinary Jones, he!—through the quality of his voice and intensity of his gaze. By the time he finished
Genet's work might have taught the young Hervé Guibert to connect violence and desire, or maybe the wunderkind figured it out for himself. With or without tutelage, he quickly discovered how to worship a beautiful body while also wishing to despoil it.
If I chose to look at my life through a particularly self-critical lens, my personal narrative would boil down to the story of a woman who spent her entire adulthood trying to get good at something, anything. Beginning in my twenties and with no noticeable talent besides writing, I took classes in a string of leisure-time activities that I hoped would turn into something to love.
What's surprising in the photographs of August Sander is that it's not only the clothes and hair—which change most noticeably over the years—that seem solidified in the past; the faces, too, are stuck like fossils in the geology of time. People just don't look like this anymore. There are, at the risk of sounding silly, no proto-dudes or babes here.
Two books exploring England's master-servant divide suggest the ways in which servants were at once tirelessly kept in their place and capable of transcending it, standing in for figures other than themselves.
Unsystematic searching, idiosyncratic linking: These are valuable as ever but harder to get to now. To the challenge of making imaginative connections has been added the challenge of making them visibly our own, off the preprogrammed, data-mined, hyperlinked grid.
There are two types of nonbelievers in the world: those who were raised without religion and stayed firmly in the realm of the godless, and those who were brought up with religion and rejected it. In some ways, the journalist and essayist Barbara Ehrenreich, who was raised an atheist and educated as a scientist, is the ideal guide for nonreligious people through the world of the spiritual, or at least the inexplicable.
The writing of Lynne Tillman feels free. Unruly, personal, and provocative, it's also freeing for the reader. Tillman's new collection includes essays (and interviews) on a wide range of topics, ordered like an alphabet book, A to Z. The table of contents points to the author's versatility and prolific output—really, isn't the question what wouldn't Lynne Tillman do?
People in the arts talk about talent all the time: who has it, who discovered the person who had it, its peaks and valleys, and when it has been “lost” or “wasted.” It’s all said as if we know what talent is, when we don’t. It is more than aptitude or being a quick study. It is more than
Something odd becomes apparent as you make your way through Morrissey's best-selling new memoir. Yes, he sings on behalf of those brutalized by the world and its bullies. But he also admires and aspires to a certain sort of brutish ruthlessness. There's a consistent attraction to masculine hardness running through his life, and his songs reveal a fascination with criminals, boxers, hooligans.
Flannery O'Connor's readers either revere her fiction because it's immersed in the mystery of Christianity or admire the work in spite of this. A Prayer Journal will naturally be embraced by the first group. But the book should also appeal to those who find this writer's concern with "the action of grace" a puzzling aesthetic curiosity—because the prayer journal is also the journal of a writer scouting her own cosmology and beginning to discern its grand and peculiar design in her art.