• print • Feb/Mar 2019

    A Reminder of Possibilities

    Twenty years ago, Nigella Lawson, at the time a freelance op-ed columnist and sometime book reviewer, sat down for a revelatory working lunch. Her husband had suggested that Lawson, a former London restaurant critic, write a food book, but even as she discussed her enthusiasm for the subject with her agent, she expressed vehement opposition to putting it between covers. She felt she would be “looked down on” and seen as “the little woman,” as she recently put it in an interview. Whereupon her agent, as great agents have been known to do, pronounced his certainty about this marriage of author

    Read more
  • print • Feb/Mar 2019

    After the Flood

    BENJAMIN KUNKEL: The scenario of your book is different from our own world, although our present is increasingly resembling the future of The Wall (Norton, $26). Could you outline the world of the novel?

    JOHN LANCHESTER: It’s about an island nation where climate change and massive displacement of population mean that the whole island is surrounded by a five-meter-high concrete wall. Everybody in the country, every citizen, has to spend a two-year period standing guard on the wall to prevent what they call the Others, displaced people from other parts of the world, from getting into the country.

    Read more
  • print • Feb/Mar 2019

    Artful Volumes

    The entry of Vivian Maier—a Chicago nanny who died in 2009, leaving an enormous trove of unpublished and often unprinted images—into the first rank of American postwar photographers has proved as revelatory as it was precipitous. During her lifetime, she refrained from bringing her photos to venues where they might have been judged, perhaps fearing that they would have been dismissed as the work of an amateur. But the several volumes of photographs that have been published since her death evidence a remarkable artistry and consciousness of craft. Vivian Maier: The Color Work (Harper Design, $

    Read more
  • print • Feb/Mar 2019

    The Anxiety of Affluence

    There is little to recommend the rich, except of course their money. After all, the greater a fortune, the more likely it was ill-gotten. (No one ever hit pay dirt performing a good deed.) Until the revolution comes, we still have taste as the great leveler, evidence of democracy in action. What distinguishes good taste from bad, however, matters less than the fact of its presence at all. The worst plight is having no taste whatsoever, of being boring. Far better to vigorously exercise the right to get it all very, very wrong.

    A delectable distraction from these bleak and crooked times,

    Read more
  • print • Feb/Mar 2019

    Nice for What

    Like stereotypical versions of the people the book maligns, the title of Blythe Roberson’s How to Date Men When You Hate Men makes promises it can’t keep: This is not a how-to, she doesn’t hate men, and though she sleeps around and has maintained perplexing romantic friendships, she’s not totally sure if she’s ever been on a date. The book, she explains in the introduction, is more of a political meditation on what Roberson insists is not a personal problem but a structural one. It’s a “comedy philosophy book about what dating and loving are like now, in an era that we thought was the end of

    Read more
  • print • Feb/Mar 2019

    Etel Adnan by Kaelen Wilson-Goldie

    Etel Adnan has two desks. One for writing, the other for painting, they face opposite walls of the quietest room in her Paris home. When she finishes a painting she hangs it over her writing desk to dry. For half a century, Adnan has been revered as a titan of Middle Eastern literature and a beacon of avant-garde poetry. As a writer Adnan is beyond categorization, equal parts philosopher and journalist (she toiled for years as the culture editor of a leading French-language daily in Lebanon); her two dozen books of poetry and prose plumb subjects such as war, exile, terror, love, divinity, and

    Read more
  • print • Feb/Mar 2019

    Jason Moran Edited by Adrienne Edwards. Foreword by Olga Viso. Text by Philip Bither, Okwui Enwezor, et al.

    The roster of musicians—Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Max Roach, Charles Mingus, and many others—who played the Three Deuces nightclub on Manhattan’s 52nd Street from the 1940s through the ’50s nearly encompasses the whole of modern jazz history. Yet any trace of that iconic locale, as well as all the other jazz venues that once lined the block, has long been obliterated by office towers. Some redress for this cultural disregard can be found in Jason Moran’s installation STAGED: Three Deuces, which was featured at the 2015 Venice Biennale. A pianist, composer, and visual artist, Moran demonstrates

    Read more
  • print • Feb/Mar 2019

    All That Glitters

    here is a scene in Douglas Keeve’s 1995 documentary, Unzipped, in which Keeve films his then-lover, the American fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, getting a haircut. Mizrahi’s mane is wild, a crimpy bristle that forms a compact tangle over his forehead as single corkscrews try to escape the mass. Mizrahi, thirty-three at the time, is more or less oblivious to the snipping happening around his face. He’s too preoccupied with explaining his vision for a new fall runway collection, which he says came to him in a bolt of revelation before Christmas. “It has to be this kind of, like, you know, ’50s

    Read more
  • print • Feb/Mar 2019

    An Afterlife to Remember

    As Denis Diderot’s lengthy and preposterously productive run approached its end in 1784, the question of his posterity loomed in an even more concrete way than usual. In the months before he expired, aged seventy, over a bowl of stewed cherries, he relocated from the conservative parish of Saint-Sulpice to the more renegade-hospitable precinct around Église Saint-Roch, on the other side of the Seine. The move offered a way for Diderot the atheist to avoid the fate of Voltaire the deist, whose corpse had had to be disguised as a still-living being and hustled out of Paris sitting upright in a

    Read more
  • print • Feb/Mar 2019

    The Reminder

    In 2006, the late teacher, critic, and blogger Mark Fisher contributed an essay called “Gothic Oedipus: Subjectivity and Capitalism in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins” to ImageTexT: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies. Fisher routes his discussion of Batman Begins around the gothic, noir, Lacan’s concept of the Symbolic Father, and a 2001 interview with Alain Badiou, all of which are funneled into the concept of “capitalist realism,” Fisher’s best-known idea and the title of his 2009 book.

    Capitalist realism has become an effective and portable idea because it confirms that capitalism can also

    Read more
  • print • Feb/Mar 2019

    Dyckman Haze by Adam Pape

    I turned Adam Pape’s new book of black-and-white photographs, Dyckman Haze, over and around several times before I was sure where to begin. Identically sized images of indeterminate orientation appear on both the front and back covers, neither accompanied by a title. One is of a dark cistern; in the other, a person of ambiguous gender folds backward, possibly mid-fall, long hair streaming toward the bottom of the frame. It’s unclear whether this is a moment of fear or of ecstasy.

    Many of the images are like this, and the book itself seems to revel in a spirit of nondisclosure. There is no

    Read more
  • print • Feb/Mar 2019

    There Will Be Fake Blood

    The shooting of The Wild Bunch was not a pretty picture. If a film were made today the way Sam Peckinpah shot The Wild Bunch in Mexico in 1968, and if people found out, members of the cast and crew would be facing time in jail. The history of the film’s production fascinates because it was all so wrong. What happened encompasses many vices and several crimes, including manslaughter and statutory rape. It is an often repellent tale, a stew of toxic masculinity feeding a movie designed to dismantle the very myths about heroic cowboys, gun violence, and la frontera that it succumbed to as a

    Read more