20.7.15

Buone vacanze

Providence, WaterFire
Usalibri va in vacanza. Buone vacanze a tutti e a rivederci verso la metà di settembre!

17.7.15

The Strand

The Strand, uno dei luoghi cult di Manhattan, ha subito un rinnovamento e non è più quello di una volta. "Concerned with the persistent competition from online booksellers and chain stores, the Strand recently hired a design company to advise them as to “what customers want now and in the future,” Eddie Sutton, the store’s manager, who has been there since 1991, said. What many customers want turns out to be the convenience and variety found online. And so the Strand traded the bag check for video cameras and plainclothes security. The book-buying counter was moved from the front to the back of the store. The leather-bound sets (Will and Ariel Durant, the complete works of Dickens, Toynbee) behind the cashier were pushed aside to fit books arranged by the color of their spines. The non-book section was expanded to sell socks, lollipops, and greeting cards alongside T-shirts, refrigerator magnets, and totes bearing slogans like “Prose Before Hoes.” You can now mail letters from inside the store. Rachel Shteir, newyorker.

15.7.15

Lost NY

Today in New York there are more than 1,300 individual landmarks, and 114 historic districts encompassing some 33,000 landmarked properties. 

Other landmarked sites include about a hundred lampposts, seven cast-iron sidewalk clocks, three Coney Island amusement park rides, and a Magnolia grandiflora tree planted in Brooklyn in 1885.

Yet prior to the landmarks law there was no legal means for protecting historic sites like the Roxy. Many had fallen into disrepair. Alex Straub, nybooks.

13.7.15

LitMags

Un lungo articolo sulle riviste letterarie che sembrerebbero sparite, almeno dal panorama editoriale italiano, e invece pare siano ancora fiorenti in America. 
"Why on Earth would you start a literary magazine? You won’t get rich, or even very famous. You’ll have to keep your day job, unless you’re a student or so rich you don’t need a day job. You and your lucky friends and the people you hire—if you can afford to pay them—will use their time and energy on page layouts, bookkeeping, distribution, Web site coding and digital upkeep, and public readings and parties and Kickstarters and ways to wheedle big donors or grant applications so that you can put out issue two, and then three. You’ll lose time you could devote to your own essays or fiction or poems. Once your journal exists, it will wing its way into a world already full of journals, like a paper airplane into a recycling bin, or onto a Web already crowded with literary sites. Why would you do such a thing?" Stephen Burt, newyorker.

10.7.15

The Odd Woman and the City, Gornick’s brief new collection of meditations and anecdotes, shows her still wrestling in old age with the same basic problems that have always animated her work. The need for, and the impossibility of, romantic connection; the erotic embrace of the city, as a substitute for personal intimacy; the consolations and frustrations of friendship; above all, the moral struggle to make an independent self—these have been, and still are, Gornick’s great subjects. What gives Gornick’s writing its disturbing charge is the way she never comes to the end of these subjects—never achieves the kind of self-understanding or resignation that might lead to wisdom. Adam Kirsch, tablet.

Vivian Gornick, The Odd Woman and the City (Farrar, Straus & Giroux).

8.7.15

Ornette Coleman

Coleman spoke little of himself, and dismissed the idea that he was exceptional. The ‘autobiography of my life is like everyone else’s’, he wrote in the liner notes to his 1960 album This Is Our Music. ‘Born, work, sad and happy and etc.’ But the journey that led Coleman from Fort Worth, Texas, where he was born to a ‘poorer than poor’ family in 1930, to international fame as a free jazz innovator was anything but ordinary, and required no small amount of courage. The world of saloons, honky tonk clubs and travelling minstrel bands in which he performed in his teens was dangerous. Coleman was jailed for having long hair. When a white woman raised her dress over his head in the back of a Texas club, he knew he could be lynched if a white man saw them. In Baton Rouge, a group of thugs smashed his saxophone case, and left him with a collarbone injury that took years to heal. Adam Shatz. lrb.

6.7.15

Essere scrittori cattolici

Un saggio interessante di William Giraldi sull'essere uno scrittore cattolico. "It’s not altogether easy being a Catholic, and it’s immeasurably harder being a novelist, so you might imagine the myriad conundrums of being both. ... In Memories of a Catholic Girlhood, Mary McCarthy admits: “I am not sorry to have been a Catholic”—“this sensuous life,” she calls it, and like Percy and O’Connor she speaks of “the sense of mystery and wonder,” of how in certain “exalted moments of altruism the soul was fired with reverence.” newrepublic.

3.7.15

Matrimonio

My husband and I got married last fall because we wanted to have a party. ...
We represent the demographic (white, heterosexual, college-educated) that looked poised to lead an exodus from marriage and its fusty shackles as the family-values debate raged. But now, when data suggest that fewer Americans—across the income spectrum—are getting married than ever before, our cohort is playing the opposite role. We are the group most likely to wed, as marriage rates among lower-income men and women without college degrees rapidly decline. We’re also among those who count least on the symbolic and actual benefits of the institution: my husband and I aren’t battling for social validation of our love or for the conditions of middle-class stability. ... Alice Gregory, theatlantic.

1.7.15

Lo scrittore vuole essere letto?

Questa domanda, più o meno, viene fatta ad Adam Kirsch, il quale risponde di sì, naturalmente, ma poi articola la sua risposta in molti modi, per esempio, "Once indifference to audience is ruled out, however, we are left with the two choices DeLillo describes: The artist can lead or follow. This way of thinking about art is characteristic of modernity ...
The difference between leading and following partly overlaps the distinction between fine art and commercial art, but the two are not identical. It is easy to assume that a bad best seller is written cynically, that anyone could master the formula and please a large audience. In fact, artists who are immensely popular in their day are not “following” the audience in a mercenary sense. They are, rather, people whose spirits happen to find full expression in established, conventional forms. Such artists take their reward in the present, while the others, the “leaders,” have no choice but to postpone their reward into the hypothetical future. But the kingdom of this world and the kingdom to come are both kingdoms; and it might be impossible to be an artist without dreaming, however quietly, of sovereignty". nytbooks.

29.6.15

Tradurre l'Iliade

"But the magically appearing bathtubs at the end of Book 10 are a marker of a very deep-seated feature of Homeric poetry. Objects can be conjured out of the air by a set of rules for narrative plausibility which are not ours. Diomedes and Odysseus are rich and powerful. They are exhausted and they have been successful. Rich and powerful warriors have baths, so the bathtubs have to be there and must be ‘polished’. The way Homeric narrative deals with objects is determined not by probability or the laws of physics, but by social ambience, and by what a poet thinks an audience is likely to expect". Colin Burrow, LRB.

Homer: ‘The Iliad’ translated by Peter Green (University of California Press).