"Deconstructing Prince Charles", di Martin Filler: "Like Mount Vesuvius but at briefer intervals, Prince Charles erupts in high dudgeon over various and sundry affronts to his very particular and sometimes very peculiar notions of how life should be lived. The ghastliness of modern architecture and the superiority of homeopathic medicine—in 2004 he endorsed an alternative cancer treatment that prescribes, among other things, daily coffee enemas—are but the foremost of his many contrarian beliefs. Perhaps because mental illness runs in both sides of his highly inbred family, his state of mind has been questioned more than once". nybooks.


Moxibustion: is an ancient Chinese medical treatment like acupuncture. Alice Fulton, nella sua poesia  "Claustrophilia", uscita sul New Yorker di questa settimana, usa questo termine per parlare d'amore. E spiega il perché in un'intervista. newyorker.

Interrobang: is a combination of a question mark and an exclamation point. Many of us use this punctuation when we type ?!, but a real interrobang is a merger of these two symbols (v. foto). good.


"The Beats: Pictures of a Legend", di Edmund White, a commento della mostra "Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg", alla National Gallery di Washington D.C., fino al 16 settembre. "Both Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs discovered late in life that making works of art is the way to get money. Literature just doesn’t do it. Speaking engagements pay, but eventually they become tiring—or one exhausts the market. Neither of the two had ever been money-mad, but old age requires a bit of a cushion. Burroughs turned to painting. ... Ginsberg had been taking snapshots of friends with a borrowed camera since the mid-1940s. In 1953 he bought a small Kodak Retina camera for $13 secondhand at a Bowery pawnshop, and for the next ten years he photographed all his friends and activities in a casual, spontaneous way." nybooks. (nella foto Jack Kerouac)


Sto leggendo i New Yorker accumulati in queste settimane lontano da Milano. Continua la serie degli scrittori Under 40. Il 28 giugno è uscito un racconto notevole, "The Young Painters", di Nicole Krauss. Notevole soprattutto per la sicurezza ed eleganza della scrittura, per la padronanza con cui vengono evocati personaggi, luoghi ed eventi. "The room was spare, with only a bed and a wooden chair and a little altar with candles set up in one corner. There was a large window facing south, through which lower Manhattan hung suspended in the dark. The walls were blank except for one painting that was tacked up with pins, a vibrant picture out of whose many bright, high-spirited strokes several faces emerged, as if from a bog, now and then topped with a hat. The faces on the top half of the paper were upside down, as if the painter had turned the page around or circled it on his or her knees while painting, in order to reach more easily. It was a strange piece of work, unlike the style of the other things the dancer had collected, and I studied it for a minute or two..." Forse un po' moralistico il contenuto?


Rick Moody, The Four Fingers of Death (Little, Brown). Monumentale romanzo su uno scrittore in crisi che scrive la novelization di un film di fantascienza del 1963.

Philip Carr-Gomm, A Brief History of Nakedness (Reaktion Books). "Stop reading and start taking off your clothes." Così inizia questa storia del nudismo.

Bernard DeVoto, The Hour. A Cocktail Manifesto (Tin House). "first published in 1948, is a paean to the restorative powers of a quiet drink at the end of the working day," dice Michael Dirda sul wp.

Sheila Rowbotham, Dreamers of a New Day. Women who invented the twentieth century (Verso). Femministe del Ventesimo secolo. tls.


Woody Allen Goes Digital: Woody Allen ha deciso di registrare una serie di saggi umoristici da lui scritti in audiobooks. Ecco le sue motivazioni: Q. How were you persuaded to embrace the audiobook format? Do you own or regularly use any of the high-tech gadgets that play these files?

A.I was persuaded in a moment of apathy when I was convinced I had a fatal illness and would not live much longer. I don’t own a computer, have no idea how to work one, don’t own a word processor, and have zero interest in technology. Many people thought it would be a nice idea for me to read my stories and I gave in. nyt.

Volete sapere che cosa mangiano i famosi? Questo libro fa per voi, What the Great Ate. A Curious History of Food and Fame, di Matthew Jacob e Mark Jacob (Three River Press).


Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters, a cura di Bill Morgan e David Stanford (Viking). "Art has been for me, when I did not deceive myself, a meager compensation for what I desire", dice Allen Ginsberg in una delle sue numerosissime lettere. nyt.


Allegra Goodman, The Cookbook Collector (The Dial Press). Allegra Goodman has rediscovered her sense of humor. Not that her new novel lacks seriousness... In her new novel, she works on a larger social canvas than ever before, armed with an awareness that to comprehend all the scheming and the sorrow, wit is indispensable. 

Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story (Random House). A kibitz and a Korean shvitz with satirist turned sci-fi writer Gary Shteyngart. nymag. Da leggere anche la divertente intervista all'autore (nella foto): Your new novel, “Super Sad True Love Story,” a superliterate sendup of consumer culture, is set in New York in the near future, when books are extinct, eternal life can be purchased by a rich elite, the subway offers business class and see-through jeans are the latest fashion. How do you feel about the word “dystopia”? “Dystopia” is my middle name. I was born in the Soviet Union, and then we moved to Reagan’s America. We immigrated in 1979, just in time for the Gipper. nytmag.

Joyce Carol Oates, In Rough Country. Essays and Reviews (Ecco/HarperCollins). In questa raccolta di saggi la prolifica autrice affronta anche temi difficili, come la morte del marito. 


I Write Like, è un "analyzer" che ci permette di scoprire a quale scrittore somigliamo. Basta inserire un proprio brano di prosa (in inglese) e immediatamente si ha il verdetto. Io ho fatto la prova con due paragrafi, il risultato del primo è che scrivo come Mario Puzo, del secondo come David Foster Wallace (che complimento!). Pare sia il giochetto estivo della literary blogosphere.


Elif Batuman, giovane scrittrice e docente di letteratura russa a Stanford (molto brava secondo me), in "My 12-Hour Blind Date, With Dostoevsky", recensione in forma di diario della messa in scena dei Demoni di Dostoevsky (in italiano, durata 12 ore) a Governor’s Island. theparisreview


"Sammler in a mental whisper said, ‘Well, Elya. Well, well, Elya.’ And then in the same way he said, ‘Remember, God, the soul of Elya Gruner, who, as willingly as possible and as well as he was able, and even to an intolerable point, and even in suffocation and even as death was coming was eager, even childishly perhaps (may I be forgiven for this), even with a certain servility, to do what was required of him. At his best this man was much kinder than at my very best I have ever been or could ever be. He was aware that he must meet, and he did meet – through all the confusion and degraded clowning of this life through which we are speeding – he did meet the terms of his contract. The terms which, in his inmost heart, each man knows. As I know mine. As all know. For that is the truth of it – that we all know, God, that we know, that we know, we know, we know." Mr Sammler's Planet di Saul Bellow, del 1969 o giù di lì. L'ho letto per la prima volta e mi ha scosso profondamente: la sua mente intelligentissima, che incessantemente indaga nel mistero della vita, con le parole scava nella carne, nel corpo dell'uomo. E con una grande comprensione, accettazione, a volte piacere altre dolore. Nelle condizioni del suo contratto con Dio doveva esserci anche la bontà e mi pare proprio che come scrittore l'abbia rispettata.


slush pile: manoscritto non richiesto di autore sconosciuto. "According to the OED, the first occurrence of 'slush pile' was not in reference to what we commonly now know as unsolicited manuscripts from unheard-of (and often insane) aspiring authors. It appeared in January 1907, when the Washington Post published an article accusing J.H. Seward & Co. 'of fraudulently obtaining refunds of customs on fruits imported into this country.' Apparently, when government inspected the piles of 'waste fruit' - or 'slush' - they found…. theawl.


L'origine della parola "robot": "As Oxford English Dictionary Chief Editor John Simpson writes, 'In 1920 the Czech writer Karel Čapek published his play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) - in Czech, but with a strange new word (in English) in the title. Čapek said that the word was suggested to him by his brother Josef (from Czech robota 'forced labour, drudgery').' Čapek’s play featured artificial creatures that were biological rather than mechanical, created to do crappy jobs. That play made its way to New York in 1922, and the robot invasion of English was underway." msn.

Derek Walcott che legge due poesie da White Egrets, la sua ultima raccolta. nyrb.


Quando Christopher Hitchens ha annunciato di avere un cancro all'esofago e di doversi sottomettere alla chemioteria tra i blogger si è acceso un dibattito sul fatto se fosse lecito o meno pregare per una persona dichiaratamente atea. "Jeffrey Goldberg, a colleague of Hitchens's at The Atlantic Monthly, consulted the rabbinical authorities and decided that prayer was O.K. On his blog, Goldberg quoted the advice of David Wolpe, a Los Angeles rabbi who has publicly debated Hitchens on a number of occasions: "I would say it is appropriate and even mandatory to do what one can for another who is sick; and if you believe that praying helps, to pray. It is in any case an expression of one’s deep hopes. So yes, I will pray for him, but I will not insult him by asking or implying that he should be grateful for my prayers." nytbr.


Mi scuso per il gap negli aggiornamenti.
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad (Knopf). Un romanzo complicato che si svolge nel mondo della musica. nytbr.

Niall Ferguson, High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg (Allen Lane). Biografia di uno dei pionieri della finanza europea. g/o.

Patricia Morrisroe, Wide Awake. A Memoir of Insomnia (Spiegel & Grau). nytbr.

More tomorrow...