Dear Prime Minister, Merry Christmas!

Dear Prime Minister,
Merry Christmas! I mean it. All that "Happy Holiday Season" stuff, with "holiday" cards and "holiday" presents, is a tiresome import from the US, where it has long been fostered more by rival religions than by atheists. A cultural Anglican (whose family has been part of the Chipping Norton Set since 1727, as you'll see if you look around you in the parish church), I recoil from secular carols such as "White Christmas", "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and the loathsome "Jingle Bells", but I'm happy to sing real carols, and in the unlikely event that anyone wants me to read a lesson I'll gladly oblige - only from the King James Version, of course. ... Richard Dawkins. newstatesman.


Creative People Cheat

Questo è quanto ha appurato una ricerca fatta a Harvard: "creative people are more likely to cheat than their less creative counterparts. Researchers at Harvard and Duke have found that creative thinkers are more likely to take unethical shortcuts for gain, possibly because their talents make them better at rationalizing bad behavior. And don't creative people also believe they can win us back with a creative apology, a creative excuse or a creative defense in court? 'This is an interesting possibility,' says the lead researcher, Dr. Francesca Gino. But the bottom line, Gino said, is that 'creativity makes people more morally flexible'." nytmag.


Hitchens insegna

che la letteratura è utile per capire la storia, la politica, la finanza, ecc. Da un bell'articolo di Ian McEwan che ricorda l'amico Christopher Hitchens, "And this was a man in constant pain. Denied drinking or eating, he sucked on tiny ice chips. Where others might have beguiled themselves with thoughts of divine purpose (why me?) and dreams of an afterlife, Christopher had all of literature. Over the three days of my final visit I took a note of his subjects. Not long after he stole my Ackroyd, he was talking to me of a Slovakian novelist; whether Dreiser in his novels about finance was a guide to the current crisis; Chesterton's Catholicism; Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese, which I had brought for him on a previous visit; Mann's The Magic Mountain – he'd reread it for reflections on German imperial ambitions towards Turkey; and because we had started to talk about old times in Manhattan, he wanted to quote and celebrate James Fenton's A German Requiem: 'How comforting it is, once or twice a year,/To get together and forget the old times." guardian.


Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011. In Memoriam

Proprio ieri stavo contemplando di postare quel che adesso suppongo sia l'ultimo articolo di Christopher Hitchens: una cronaca da Tumorland, come chiamava il luogo in cui era finito, scritta per Vanity Fair. Confutava un detto diventato comune, "Tutto quel che non ammazza, rafforza", che pare sia di Nietzsche. Poi ho pensato - che sciocchezza - di non pubblicare un articolo così triste in tempi natalizi. Non è un articolo per niente triste. E' lucido, intelligente, colto e spiritoso. Come al solito.
Ieri Christopher Hitchens è morto.
Mi è capitato spesso di tradurre Hitchens per il Corriere (anche oggi pomeriggio, per l'ultima volta). Mi innervosiva sempre un po'. Hitchens non è facile da rendere. Ha un modo di scrivere molto libero, piuttosto tortuoso. A volte aggressivo. Non sempre chiarissimo di primo acchito.
Lo voglio ricordare con queste parole, prese dal necrologio di William Grimes sul New York Times: "He also professed to have no regrets for a lifetime of heavy smoking and drinking. 'Writing is what's important to me, and anything that helps me do that - or enhances and prolongs and deepens and sometimes intensifies argument and conversation - is worth it to me,' he told Charlie Rose in a television interview in 2010, adding that it was 'impossible for me to imagine having my life without going to those parties, without having those late nights, without that second bottle." nyt.


Why Trilling Matters

E' il titolo del saggio di Adam Kirsch dedicato al noto critico letterario Lionel Trilling (Yale University Press). "What makes Trilling such a complex subject is not his outstanding intellect that insisted on complexity and pluralism, but his steadfast resistance to being pigeonholed and his seeming contradictions of character. A career academic and critic, he was also, in Barzun's words, 'the very negation of an academic critic' in his freedom from Eliotic dogmatizing and method-making. A cloistered, lifelong New Yorker who got itchy whenever he left the five boroughs, he deigned to speak for all of human society in his infamous use of 'we.' An unbelieving Jew reared in a conservatively Jewish household, Trilling held that being Jewish was a social rather than religious or cultural enterprise. An apolitical citizen who walked the middle road because 'between is the only honest place to be,' he was a powerfully political reader and writer who contended that literature offered badly needed political and moral instruction. And, most splitting of all, Trilling the Apollonian critic of refinement yearned to be a Dionysian artist up to his elbows in the sweet blood of creativity". thedailybeast.


Stone Mattress

E' il titolo del racconto, bello, di Margaret Atwood, uscito sull'ultimo numero del New Yorker. Della genesi del racconto Atwood dice, "Over the past ten years, Graeme Gibson [il compagno di Atwood, anche lui scrittore, n.d.r.] and I have voyaged frequently with a group called Adventure Canada. We travel as resource staff - this company shares our interest in conservation, as do most who travel with the company - so we ourselves give talks about the North and related matters. I did write the story on board, after some idle conversation about whether one could murder someone on such a cruise and get away with it. Graeme, who has a devious mind, said it would depend on the tag-turning. I read part of the story aloud to my fellow passengers, who appeared amused and wanted to read the rest; so now they will!" Se, anche voi, volete sapere come la storia va a finire (e come comincia), clicclate qui.


What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank è il titolo del racconto di Nathan Englander uscito sull'ultimo numero del New Yorker. Cressidra Leyshon parla con l'autore:
Your characters, drunk and high, end up playing the Anne Frank game—deciding who might hide them and who might betray them were there to be another Holocaust. Is this something you invented for the story? Did you always know the story was going to close with this game?
I think I did always know that the story would close with this game, yes. As for the invention of the game, it would be very easy to couch the answer in a way that was honest but less revealing. The truth is that the idea for the game comes from the fact that my sister and I have played the game forever and ever. She is older. And she invented it. newyorker.

Morte, lutto, sepoltura

Due nuovi libri si occupano di questo argomento, ancora tabù. Si tratta di Michael Kammen, Digging Up the Dead: A History of Notable American Reburials (University of Chicago Press) e David Shields and Bradford Morrow, eds., The Inevitable: Contemporary Writers Confront Death (Norton)."There are, in other words, two aspects to the phenomenon of death. On the one hand, there is death itself — immutable, the single certainty all of us face, unchanging as it has always been. On the other hand, though, is how we living face the death of others, which is constantly changing, composed of ritual, emotion, and something that each culture and each generation must define — and redefine — for itself". LAT.


Una lezione di traduzione

Ce la dà Tim Parks. "Now imagine that, having a poet friend who wishes to translate these authors, you offer a literal translation of their poems in your second language. Maybe you read The Four Quartets out loud, line by line, to give him the cadence. But does our translator friend, who doesn’t know our language well, hear what we hear when we read aloud? The onomatopoeia, perhaps. But a dying fall in one tongue may not be the same in another, not to mention the echoes of other texts, or simply of voices in the air in our language. Over my thirty years in Italy I have often been told by uninitiated English friends what a beautiful and harmonious language Italian is; but that is Italian as heard by an ear accustomed to English sound patterns. To the Italian ear, and to mine these days, much of what is said in Italian grates. One hears the language differently when one knows it". nybooks.


The New Inquiry

Thinkers and writers of our generation face an unprecedented set of cultural realities. The growing supply of career academics has flooded the university job market, and 21st century technologies have thrown traditional media into crisis. Although the future of higher education and print remains obscure, these cultural sea changes have yielded one definite side effect: an abundance of young writers and thinkers resolved to pursue a public intellectual life for its own sake—a pursuit ordered and enabled by Internet technology.
The New Inquiry is a space for discussion that aspires to enrich cultural and public life by putting all available resources—both digital and material—toward the promotion and exploration of ideas. thenewinquiry. Interessante, no?


Haikus for Safer Streets

"Curbside Haiku," a DOT safety education and public art campaign launched in November 2011, is a set of twelve bright, eye-catching designs by artist John Morse that mimic the style of traditional street safety signs.  Each sign is accompanied by a haiku poem. The "Curbside Haiku" installation can be seen citywide on 144 signs to promote road safety. Each design and haiku delivers a safety message by focusing on a transportation mode.

Placed near eye level in high-crash locations near cultural institutions and schools, the colorful signs draw attention to the critical importance of shared responsibility among pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists in keeping New York City's streets safe. L'haiku dell'immagine è il seguente: Cars  crossing  sidewalk/ Worst New York City hotspot/ To run into friends. cliccare qui per vedere tutti i segnali haiku.


Le menorah di Maurice Sendak

Il Jewish Museum di New York ha invitato Maurice Sendak a scegliere delle menorah dalla sua collezione da esibire per Hanukkah. Nella mostra sono anche esposti due disegni originali di Sendak (uno è In Grandpa's House della foto). La mostra inizia oggi e finisce il 29 gennaio. jewishmuseum.


Pettegolezzi di qualità

E' uscita una raccolta di saggi critici di John Updike, con il titolo di Higher Gossip, a cura di Christopher Carduff (Knopf). Michiko Kakutani dice: "Updike was that rare creature: an all-around man of letters, a literary decathlete who brought to his criticism an insider’s understanding of craft and technique; a first-class appreciator of talent, capable of describing other artists’ work with nimble, pictorial brilliance; an ebullient observer, who could bring to essays about dinosaurs or golf or even the theory of relativity a contagious, boyish sense of wonder". nyt.


Neil Gaiman va dai Simpsons

Lo scrittore e fumettista inglese Neil Gaiman è entrato a far parte dell'episodio dei Simpsons in onda domenica su Fox. "So Neil Gaiman's gone yellow. After winning the Newbery medal, the Carnegie award, as many Hugos as you can shake a stick at and – of course – the Nax Und Moritz Award for Best Foreign Writer, on Sunday he'll finally win the only literary award that really matters: an appearance on The Simpsons". guardian.


Squeezed Middle

Compilers of the Oxford English Dictionary have declared 2011's Word of the Year to be "squeezed middle".
The term was originally coined by Ed Miliband when speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today Programme presenter John Humphrys.
The full OED definition reads: "Squeezed Middle: the section of society regarded as particularly affected by inflation, wage freezes and cuts in public spending during a time of economic difficulty, consisting principally of those on low or middle incomes". independent.



Il luogo migliore di passare il Thanksgiving sarebbe un qualsiasi paesino del New England, in mezzo a boschi colorati. Ma anche a Milano si stanno cucinando tacchini, con succulenti ripieni, patate dolci e pies. Qui berremo vini delle Langhe.


Ancora sulla noia

Pare che negli anni Settanta negli Stati Uniti ci fosse una battaglia per combattere la noia su vari fronti, tra cui quello del lavoro. Ma la noia non è solo noiosa, sostiene Jordan Grant, graduate student all'American University,  in un paper intitolato  "Meaning in the Malaise: Boredom and the Remaking of the American Mind in the Seventies",  presentato a un convegno di Intellectual History al Graduate Center of the City University di New York. "Boredom is also a window into important shifts in American intellectual life — not to mention a new research frontier for the sometimes-embattled scholars who study it". A proposito di noia, e di "intellectual history": negli USA questa disciplina sta tornando in auge. nyt.


The Prague Cemetery

Il cimitero di Praga di Umberto Eco è stato tradotto in inglese da Richard Dixon, pubblicato da Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, recensito su Haaretz da Benjamin Balint, che poco lo apprezza: "But The Prague Cemetery is ungainly and disjointed as fiction and sometimes pedantic as history. It doesn't stay on a single course long enough for a narrative wind to fill its sails. It is strong on atmospherics but weak on character.
Simonini, the Forrest Gump of anti-Semitism, intersects with a dizzying array of historical episodes ‏(Eco even has him forge the memo that got Captain Dreyfus convicted of treason in 1894‏), but he never quite comes alive. In other words, if the 'Protocols' is a fiction that could not resist being taken as fact, The Prague Cemetery, a different sort of collage, is fact that resists rising to fiction". haaretz.


Verdi e Shakespeare

Interessante il lungo articolo di Garry Wills, professore di storia alla Northwestern University, sulla passione che Verdi nutriva per Shakespeare. "Verdi could not read English—though his wife, who helped him, could—but he carefully compared the latest and best recent translations (some made by his friends or acquaintances). He had not been to England when he composed Macbeth, but he had acquired, from friends like Andrea Maffei, solid information on the way Macbeth was staged in the country of its origin. For Macbeth, he cut the play down to opera size himself, creating a prose synopsis for his librettist, Francesco Maria Piave, to versify. He was dissatisfied with Piave's work, correcting it, adding suggestions, above all trimming it. He wanted no wasted words. He insisted to Piave, Poche parole! Poche parole! Poche parole! (Few words! Few words! Few words!) Finally, in his exasperation with Piave, he had his scholar friend Andrea Maffei, an expert translator, correct portions of the libretto". nyrb. Nella foto: Željko Lučić nella parte di Macbeth nella produzione del Macbeth di Verdi di Peter Stein, Salisburgo, 2011.


Dimmi cosa leggi...

Sta per uscire un libro intrigante di Leah Price, docente di letteratura inglese a Harvard, Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books (Yale UP). "Because books can be owned without being read and read without being owned, bookshelves reveal at once our most private selves and our most public personas. They can serve as a utilitarian tool or a theatrical prop. For a coffee-table book of my own, I recently toured a dozen writers’ book collections. Gazing at the shelves of a novelist whose writings lie dog-eared on my own bookcase, I felt as lucky as a restaurantgoer granted a peek at the chef’s refrigerator. The Duke of Devonshire’s library, in contrast, with its trompe l’oeil bookshelves, bore more resemblance to a Viking range littered with takeout cartons". nyt.


The Angel Esmeralda

Michiko Kakutani parla molto bene di questo racconto di Don DeLillo, che dà il titolo a una raccolta ora in uscita presso Scribner. "The Angel Esmeralda, the title story in Don DeLillo's first ever collection of short fiction, is a dazzlingly told tale of despair and ruination, the dream of redemption and the testing of faith. Set in the Bronx and featuring a nun on the lookout for a miracle, this 1994 story prefigures portions of Mr. DeLillo's 1997 masterwork, Underworld, but it also stands on its own as a beautifully realized and singular work of fiction". NYT.


Hitchens su Jackie Kennedy

Sono uscite le registrazioni delle conversazioni tra Jacqueline Kennedy e lo storico Arthur Schlesinger Jr. che si svolsero poco dopo l'assassinio di Jack Kennedy. Christopher Hitchens le commenta con il suo solito perfido acume. " But when examined carefully and in context, the pouting refusal to have any ideas except those supplied by her lord and master turns out not to be evidence of winsome innocence but a soft cover for a specific sort of knowingness and calculation." vanityfair.


Calvin Trillin sull'umorismo, ebraico

Would you say yours is a Jewish sense of humor?

All of me is Jewish. You get a lot of theories about Jews deflecting pain through humor. I don’t know about that. I think there is sort of an irony built into the faith. Even in the Talmud where they argue “maybe” and “but on the other hand,” that I always found funny. forward.



E' il titolo dell'ultimo libro di fotografie di Annie Leibovitz (Random House). Contiene foto di oggetti e stanze che hanno un significato per lei - lo studio di Sigmund Freud a Londra, la camera da letto di Virginia Woolf, un vestito di Emily Dickinson. E anche di panorami. Qui a sinistra, la porta della casa di Georgia O'Keefe ad Abiquiu, New Mexico. brainpickings.


Una lezione di traduzione

Ce la dà Daniel Mendelsohn, paragonando varie traduzioni dell'Iliade, in particolare sei versi - 795-800 - del canto 13. Alla fine sembra che chi vinca sia ancora la traduzione di Pope: "I've done a translation myself (of a modern Greek poet), and my guess is that you could spend an entire working day solving the problems presented in this six-line passage - nailing down the meaning in a first draft, perhaps, and then spending several hours working out how to get the sound effects, to say nothing of the rhythm. At this rate, it would take about seven years to translate the Iliad - assuming you worked on weekends. That's just about how long it took Alexander Pope to produce his Iliad; it was announced in 1713 and the final volume was published in 1720. Many consider it the greatest English Iliad, and one of the greatest translations of any work into English. It manages to convey not only the stateliness and grandeur of Homer's lines, but their speed and wit and vividness". newyorker.


Why Read Moby Dick?

E' il titolo di un libro di Nathaniel Philbrick, pubblicato da Viking. In effetti, chi legge più Moby Dick? Anche nelle università, c'è ancora un qualche corso in cui si legge per intero? Philbrick è un esperto di balene, un esperto marinaio e vive a Nantucket. Chi meglio di lui può quindi rispondere alla domanda? Di Moby Dick dice: "But Moby Dick is not a novel. It's barely a book at all. It's more an act of transference, of ideas and evocations hung around the vast and unknowable shape of the whale, an extended musing on the strange meeting of human history and natural history. It is, above all, a sui-generis creation, one that came into the world as an unnatural, immaculate conception". newyorker.
Per uno slide show delle copertine di Moby Dick, cliccare qui.


Relatively Speaking

Foto di Annie Leibovitz
This fall, the distinctive voices of three giant American authors can be heard under the same roof when a collection of their one-act plays, Relatively Speaking, opens on Broadway. The voices belong to Woody Allen, Elaine May, and Ethan Coen, the roof to the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. ... The plays are being directed by John Turturro. vanityfair.


Sul New York Review of Books è uscita una bella intervista, in due parti, ad Art Spiegelman sulla genesi del suo Maus. Nella prima parte Spiegelman risponde a domande tipo, Why Maus? Nella seconda parla dei documenti che lo hanno ispirato. "Before embarking on Maus I consciously set about looking for material that could help me visualize what I needed to draw. The few collections of survivors’ drawings and reproductions of surviving art that I could get my hands on were essential for me. Those drawings were a return to drawing not for its possibilities of imposing the self, of finding a new role for art and drawing after the invention of the camera, but rather a return to the earlier function that drawing served before the camera - a kind of commemorating, witnessing, and recording of information-what Goya referred to when he says, 'This I saw.' The artists, like the memoirists and diarists of the time, are giving urgent information in the pictures, information that could be transmitted no other way, and often at great risk to their lives". Per leggere la prima parte dell'intervista, cliccare qui. Per la seconda qui.


I significativi disegni di Sylvia Plath

"I had removed my patent leather shoes after a while, for they foundered badly in the sand. It pleased me to think they would be perched there on a silver log pointing out to sea, like a sort of soul-compass after I was dead". Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar. Alla Mayor Gallery di Londra, fino al 16 novembre, sono esposti i disegni di Sylvia Plath. telegraph.


Storie dei trentasei Giusti

Jonathon Keats, Il libro dell'ignoto. Storie dei trentasei Giusti (Giuntina). Traduzione di Silvia Pareschi. Ho appena finito di leggere questa raccolta di racconti straordinari che mi hanno fatto pensare e sovente mi hanno commosso. Si ricollega alla letteratura dello shtetl, ai quadri di Chagall, a quel mondo fantasioso, un po' ai margini, anche nel modo di pensare, ricco di un'umanità bizzarra che riesce però a cogliere un qualcosa, un piccolissimo frammento del mistero della vita, soprattutto nel mistero dell'amore tra un uomo e una donna. Splendida traduzione - come al solito - di Silvia Pareschi.


Miranda July and the PennySaver

Miranda July è divertente. Per tutta questa settimana il New Yorker pubblica dei brani del suo nuovo libro, It Chooses You, in uscita il 15 novembre da Sweeney's. Si tratta di interviste con persone casualmente contattate attraverso gli annunci di PennySaver, una sorta di Seconda mano. "I tell you all this so you can understand why I looked forward to Tuesdays. Tuesday was the day the PennySaver booklet was delivered. It came hidden among the coupons and other junk mail. I read it while I ate lunch, and then, because I was in no hurry to get back to not writing, I usually kept reading it straight through to the real estate ads in the back. I carefully considered each item - not as a buyer, but as a curious citizen of Los Angeles". newyorker.


A Jewish Writer in America

Bellow e la moglie Janis fotagrafati da Judith Aronson nel 1994
Lo scrittore ebreo in America è Saul Bellow, e questo è il titolo di una conferenza che ha tenuto nel 1998 e che viene ora pubblicata per la prima volta sul New York Review of Books. "So, in my first consciousness, I was, among other things, a Jew, the child of Jewish immigrants. At home our parents spoke Russian to each other, we children spoke Yiddish with them, and we spoke English with one another. At the age of four we began to read the Old Testament in Hebrew, we observed Jewish customs, some of them superstitions, and we recited prayers and blessings all day long. Because I had to memorize most of Genesis, my first consciousness was that of a cosmos, and in that cosmos I was a Jew. I suppose it would be proper to apply the word 'archaic' to such a representation of the world as I had - archaic, prehistoric. This was my 'given' and it would be idle to quarrel with it, to try to revise or efface it". nyrb.


"Occupy Wall Street" ha origini storiche

Back in the mid-17th century, when New York was still New Amsterdam and young settlers were nostalgic for a hip, authentic military citadel named Fort Amsterdam, fur traders occupied an area of southern Manhattan known as "de Waal Straat," or Wall Street.

A January 1, 1626, article published on the front page of Van Der Huffinjtön Pöst outlines the concerns of many fur-traders:

"Fur Traders Gather for Occupy De Waal Straat

Dozens of fur traders gathered in lower New Amsterdam today to protest the growing inequality between themselves and furriers. Johann Vries, a fur-trader who has worked for Bartholomeus Buskirk de Graaf's Discount Furrier since he was nine, said that he was angry about the unfair wages, disproportionately distributed wealth, and the torpor of New Amsterdam director general Peter Minuit. ..." vanityfair.


Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

E' il titolo dell'autobiografia, se così si può chiamare questa raccolta di vignette sulla sua vita, di Mindy Kaling, la simpatica attrice e scrittrice comica di The Office. Uscirà a giorni presso Crown Archetype. Il New Yorker intervista l'attrice:
You write in the book about some of your less positive experiences writing for “The Office.” Do you worry about what your co-writers will think?
Comedy writers have the most fragile egos. It's not that they're offended by what you say, but more that you omitted sparkling parts of their résumés. I'm used to showing everyone what I write, but this had to be more private, because, inevitably, they just wanted to see the stuff about them. newyorker.


Jill Abramson

At nine o’clock on the morning of September 6th, Jill Abramson was riding the subway uptown from her Tribeca loft. It was her first day as executive editor of the New York Times, and also the first time in the paper's hundred and sixty years that a woman's name would appear at the top of the masthead. Abramson described herself as "excited," because of the history she was about to make, and "a little nervous," because she knew that many in the newsroom feared her.
Abramson, who is fifty-seven, wore a white dress and a black cardigan with white flowers and red trim. Her usually pale complexion glowed from summer sun, but there were deep, dark lines under her eyes. ... e segue un interessante profilo della nuova direttrice del NYT e dei suoi piani di rinnovamento del giornale. Ken Auletta sul newyorker.


Starting from Happy

Starting from Happy (Scribner) è una storia d'amore - molto divertente - scritta a fumetti da Patricia Marx. Ecco quel che dice di sé e del libro l'autrice:

Starting from Happy is your first illustrated novel; your cartoons are speckled throughout its pages. Can you tell me about your process?

Oh, I am not good enough to have a process. I made a lot of mistakes, so I wasted about a rain forest of paper. I used computer paper and magic markers with thin points. My father sold stationery when I was growing up, so it kind of kills me that I have to pay for office supplies. 

Per saperne di più cliccare qui.



Twenty-five years ago, Art Spiegelman's "Maus" was published, opening a window into the depth and seriousness that comics as a form could tell. A chronicle of World War II in which the Jews are mice and the Nazis are cats, Spiegelman and his father, a Holocaust survivor, both figure in the text. After the conclusion, "Maus II," came out five years later, Spiegelman was awarded a special Pulitzer Prize.
But that was not the end of "Maus," which has been repackaged as a box set and as a single book. Now ... is "MetaMaus," a stunning hardcover book from Spiegelman about the making of "Maus," which includes a multimedia DVD. LAT.


Freethinker of the Year Award

Quest'anno è stato assegnato a Christopher Hitchens. "Mr. Hitchens was flattered by the honor, he said a few days beforehand, but also a little abashed. 'I think being an atheist is something you are, not something you do,' he explained, adding: 'I’m not sure we need to be honored. We don't need positive reinforcement. On the other hand, we do need to stick up for ourselves, especially in a place like Texas, where they have laws, I think, that if you don't believe in Jesus Christ you can’t run for sheriff". nyt.


The Thurber Prize

The Thurber Prize for American Humor viene attribuito a un libro particolarmente comico. E' un premio benemerito, rivolto a un genere di solito sottovalutato. Quest'anno è stato vinto da David Rakoff per la sua raccolta di saggi Half Empty (Anchor). In Half Empty's essays, Rakoff applies his signature wit to a range of wildly depressing subjects, including Sept. 11, AIDS and cancer.
To settle into this grim worldview, Rakoff had to transcend his "indulged, privileged" early years. "I was cursed with a very lovely childhood," he laments. nprbooks. A dir la verità gli esempi che si possono leggere nell'articolo citato sopra mi sembrano tristissimi.



Negropedia: The Assimilated Negro's Crash Course on the Modern Black Experience è il titolo del libro di Patrice Evans, pubblicato da Three River Press. Derivato da un blog molto bizzarro, The Assimilated Negro, questo libro è una raccolta di saggi divertenti e assurdi. Ecco quel che ne dice l'autore, intervistato da Jason Parham, "I pitched the book during the peak of Obama-mania, so there was a lot of that energy going around. As a writer and blogger, I felt like there was a need for a voice speaking about race without the earnestness that accompanies politics or an Oprah show". newyorker.


Ancora sul Grande Gatsby

First published in 1925, The Great Gatsby has never lost its allure. Last year "Gatz", a six-and-a-half-hour stage adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, was a sell-out hit at New York's Public Theatre. Everyone is now buzzing about Baz Luhrmann's screen remake of "Gatsby", now being filmed in Australia with Leonardo di Caprio in the title role that was once Robert Redford's [nell'immagine]. A musical adaptation of the novel is set to premiere on September 30th at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in Manhattan. Professor friends of mine tell me that no American work of literature excites their students so much as Fitzgerald’s rueful romantic taxonomy of American dreams and fantasies.

A romantic outsider, Gatsby is both admired and mistrusted. As Nick Carroway - Gatsby's tenant, new friend and the novel's narrator - tells us, rumours depict Gatsby as related to Kaiser Wilhelm, a German spy during the first world war, a bootlegger and a murderer. Outsiders like Gatsby are quintessential figures of American democracy, a system designed to welcome outsiders by elevating individual will over group affiliation. They can redeem, but they can also unsettle. Gatsby had to escape his humble origins in order to conquer society, yet in remaking his life he generated an aura of mysterious menace. Everyone attended his parties. Hardly anyone came to his funeral. 

Un bell'articolo di Lee Siegel sull'Economist.


Bloomsbury Reader

Per gli amici publishers, Bloomsbury ha creato un nuovo marchio - solo digitale - per rilanciare libri usciti dal mercato. Si chiama Bloomsbury Reader.
The imprint will focus on books where English language rights have reverted back to the authors or their estates. Actor turned author Dirk Bogarde, poet Edith Sitwell and Irish-born playwright and children's writer Bill Naughton are among the other deceased writers whose work will be revived. bbc.


Stazione centrale di Milano, Binario 21

E' il binario da dove partivano i treni per Auschwitz. In questo luogo stanno costruendo un Memoriale della Shoah che dovrebbe essere pronto per il giorno della Memoria, il prossimo 27 gennaio. Ma per ora ne parlano di più in America che in Italia. "For nine years, a foundation and a pair of Milanese architects have been working to transform the grim, cavernous depot - all but abandoned after the war - into the Memorial of the Shoah.
When finished, the project will take up 75,000 square feet and will include a Jewish-themed library rising three stories within the vast space, as well as an auditorium, a room for silent contemplation and a cluster of open-sided cubes for showing video testimonials by European Holocaust survivors.
The names of deportees from the station, about 2,000, will be inscribed on a wall behind a preserved track from the depot, and four windowless wooden train cars will sit atop a second track. An elevator platform that was used to lift such cars up to the main station will be visible at one end of the track, as will the opening in the ceiling far above it, an ominous rectangle of light the exact dimensions of a train car. It was through this opening that the cars would emerge into the busy station before setting off unnoticed for Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen or Italian camps like Fossoli, near Modena.
The memorial, which is about a third built, has been plagued by delays. But Roberto Jarach, vice president of the Foundation for the Memorial and the head of Milan’s Jewish Community, a membership organization, said plans called for part of the site to open to the public in time for International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27". nyt.


Blue Nights

Joan Didion fotografata da Annie Leibovitz
E' il titolo del nuovo libro di Joan Didion (Knopf), che parla della morte della figlia Quintana Roo Dunne Michael. Lo recensisce, con commozione e intensità, Christopher Hitchens su Vanity Fair, "In this supremely tender work of memory, Didion is paradoxically insistent that as long as one person is condemned to remember, there can still be pain and loss and anguish". vf.


The Marriage Plot

E' il titolo del nuovo romanzo di Jeffrey Eugenides, in uscita presso Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Il romanzo è ambientato negli anni Ottanta tra neo-laureati idealisti appena usciti da Brown (il mio libro!). "In the book, Eugenides delves into the psychology of three college seniors (who, like the author, went to Brown) as they graduate in 1982 into a recession and a love triangle. There's Mitchell, who loves Christian mysticism and his classmate Madeleine Hanna; Madeleine, who loves romantic idealism and her classmate Leonard Bankhead; and Leonard, a polymathic biology student and manic-depressive, who loves lithium". Cliccando qui si legge un'intervista all'autore.


La prima copertina del Grande Gatsby

La prima copertina del Grande Gatsby è molto bella, rara e preziosa. Il prossimo 20 ottobre uno dei pochi esamplari verrà messo all'asta a New York da Sotheby's, che prevede di venderla a un prezzo tra i 150.000 e i 180.000 dollari. E' stata disegnata da Francis Cugat, fratello maggiore di Xavier, il "Rhumba King". Eccola nella foto a sinistra. booktryst.


Flann O'Brien

October 5th will mark the hundredth anniversary of the birth of one of the great comic geniuses, and one of the most inspired literary minds, of the twentieth century. He was born Brian O'Nolan in 1911, but is now most widely remembered as Flann O'Brien, the pseudonym under which he published At Swim-Two-Birds and The Third Policeman, two uniquely strange and formally inventive novels. Edna O'Brien (no relation, obviously) once wrote that "along with Joyce and Beckett, Flann O'Brien constitutes our trinity of great Irish writers". newyorker.

Ma in Italia non è tradotto!!!