Alissa Quart


    The term outsider art works magic. It turns the stigma imposed by illiteracy, madness, crassness, and religious fervor into status and money. We venerate rather than dismiss it for its marginal qualities. But outsider art’s alchemical properties also raise questions: What makes a man in a tin-roofed hut sculpting devils an outsider and Joseph Cornell an insider? After all, some self-taught artists are as canny when it comes to promoting and selling their work as some Yale-trained painters.

    In his wonderfully titled new book, The Colorful Apocalypse: Journeys in Outsider Art, Greg Bottoms, an

  • God Save the Teen

    Smart lyrics, dopey melodies: That's the formula of some of the most famed rock songs of all time. It's also a combination found in that publishing phenomenon, the cultural history: a clever story about the origin of a fun, simple thing. Bookstore shelves groan with histories of the smile, of laughter, of pigeons, of the penis, of tears, of coffee, of snobbery, of disgust (as a writer in Manhattan, I was drawn to the last three for personal reasons).

    Jon Savage's Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture appears to be of a piece with these other tomes. It deals with a topic that can be frivolous,