Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo

Con questa foto del presidente Obama che ha portato le figlie Sasha e Malia a fare compere di Natale a One More Page, una libreria indipendente di Arlington, in Virginia, facciamo a tutti i nostri più cari auguri di Buon Natale e di un Felicissimo Anno Nuovo

Arrivederci al 2013. Il blog riprenderà gli aggiornamenti verso il 7 gennaio prossimi. mhpbooks.


Detroit City Is the Place to Be

Cass Technical High School, foto di Andrew Moore
Detroit City Is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an American Metropolis (Metropolitan Books), di Mark Benelli, parla del possibile futuro di Detroit.
Q. You write extensively about “ruin porn” — photographs of the area’s crumbling and abandoned structures. Does this trend of taking aesthetic pleasure from Detroit’s troubles offend you as a native of the place?
A. I’m not offended by photographers like, say, Andrew Moore, even though he’s not from Detroit and spent very little time in the city – technically his work is stunning, and when you see some of these buildings up close, or sneak inside, there is a majesty and an aesthetic validity. I also sympathize with the point of view of people who have lived among these ruins for years, sometimes decades, and would happily see them all bulldozed tomorrow. I just hope a balance can be struck. Some of the industrial history, especially, is worthy of preservation, and could become tourist attractions — as opposed to, say, strip malls or stadium parking lots. nyt.


Zoë Heller on Salman Rushdie

Rushdie in 1988
Zoë Heller pubblica sul New York Book Review un'affilatissima critica all'ultimo libro di Salman Rushdie, il memoriale scritto in terza persona, Joseph Anton. Tanto da meritarsi The Best Hatchet Job of 2012 (Hatchet Job of the Year is a crusade against dullness, deference and lazy thinking. It rewards critics who have the courage to overturn received opinion, and who do so with style. Most of all, it is a public celebration of that most underpaid and undervalued form of journalism: the book review).
Assolutamente da leggere. Ecco quel che dice, tra le altre cose, "At various points, Rushdie seems to grow tired of defending the special rights of fiction and moves on to advocating for the extra-special rights of serious, or important, fiction. “He hoped for, he often felt he needed, a more particular defense like the quality defense made in the case of other assaulted books, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Ulysses, Lolita….
One is struck here, not just by the implied disregard for the free speech of other writers who might not qualify for “the quality defense,” but also by the lordly nonchalance with which Rushdie places himself alongside Lawrence, Joyce, and Nabokov in the ranks of literary merit. Throughout this memoir, Rushdie claims kinship with any number of great literary men—men who, like him, suffered for their genius, but whose fame was destined to outlast that of their oppressors ..." nybooks.


Chris Hughes e The New Republic

Di Chris Hughes - cofondatore di Facebook, e ora a 29 anni, proprietario e direttore di The New Republic che spera di rivitalizzare - parla Carl Swanson sul New York magazine. "For Hughes, the advantage of trying to fix journalism by fixing The New Republic is that, in addition to its good breeding, it’s always been small and will remain small: He wasn’t taking the helm of a grand, listing superliner like, say, Newsweek. (Though, a source says, he did ask around first about buying The New York Review of Books, which isn’t for sale and is, actually, profitable.)
Certainly he can afford this experiment. But it is an experiment, his goals noble if abstract. Hughes wants to produce what thoughtful people ought to read, as opposed to churning out what most people like to “like.” And while he’s completely upfront about not having a business-side “silver bullet,” he has confidence that there’s a way to make it work and faith that the magazine’s relaunch, scheduled for February, will make enough influential people want to pay to read it on their phones. nymag.


Bad Sex in Fiction Award

Il premio per il Bad Sex in Fiction è stato vinto dalla scrittrice canadese Nancy Huston per il suo ultimo romanzo Infrared (Grove Press), in cui una fotografa fa foto a raggi infrarossi agli amanti mentre fanno sesso. Nel romanzo ci sono frasi tipo, "Kamal and I are totally immersed in flesh, that archaic kingdom that brings forth tears and terrors, nightmares, babies and bedazzlements". bbc.


In ricordo di Dave Brubeck

Desmond e Brubeck negli anni 40
During the war both Desmond and Brubeck served in army bands. Brubeck was asked to organize one, which spared him from fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. He insisted that the band be racially integrated. He had met Desmond (who had tried out for a band and was rejected) in 1944. After the war they hooked up briefly but had a falling out. Desmond had gone to New York, but then heard a Brubeck trio on the radio. He decided to seek out Brubeck in California and offer his services. It was a hard sell until Desmond offered to babysit Brubeck’s children. Eventually there were six—five boys and a girl. Their quartet began in 1951 and “Take Five” became its signature. Their sound was different from any other jazz group and was influenced by the training that Brubeck had received from people like Darius Milhaud. He named one of his boys “Darius.” Jeremy Bernstein, nybooks.


Manhattan's Forgotten Film Studio

Keaton, Arbuckle e St. John, 1917 circa
In un simpatico articolo, Charles Simic ricorda lo studio cinematografico di Manhattan di Buster Keaton: "Here, briefly, is the story. In March, 1917, while walking on Broadway, Buster Keaton bumped into a friend from vaudeville who happened to know Fatty Arbuckle, the famous silent movie comedian and Chaplin’s rival. Asked if he had ever acted in motion pictures, Keaton said no, and was invited to drop by Arbuckle’s studio on 48th Street the following Monday. Keaton first declined, because Arbuckle had stolen one of his vaudeville routines in the past, but then changed his mind because his curiosity was piqued by the opportunity to see how movies are made and especially how the gags are filmed.
The Comique Film Studio was located in a warehouse at 318-320 East 48th Street, in the tough neighborhood west of the elevated subway tracks on First Avenue. ..." nybooks.


Perché i businessmen dovrebbero leggere poesia

Ce lo spiega dettagliatamente John Coleman:
I've written in the past about how business leaders should be readers, but even those of us prone to read avidly often restrict ourselves to contemporary nonfiction or novels. By doing so, we overlook a genre that could be valuable to our personal and professional development: poetry. Here's why we shouldn't.
For one, poetry teaches us to wrestle with and simplify complexity.
Poetry can also help users develop a more acute sense of empathy.
Reading and writing poetry also develops creativity.
Finally, poetry can teach us to infuse life with beauty and meaning. ... harvardbusinessreview.


Creamy and Crunchy

Che cos'è se non il peanut butter? Se volete saperne la storia, andate a leggervi, Creamy and Crunchy: An Informal History of Peanut Butter, the All American Food, di Jon Krampner (Columbia UP).

Like other all-American foods such as the hamburger, the hot dog, and the ice-cream cone, peanut butter first emerged as a retail item at the end of the nineteenth century. With the assistance of corporations like ConAgra and Procter & Gamble, it was transformed into a billion-dollar business in the middle of the twentieth century. Peanut-butter sales, which dipped in the nineteen-eighties and nineties, because of health concerns, have steadily risen in recent years, particularly since the start of the recession. Cheap and nutritious, it’s the perfect food for hard times. The twenty-first century has also seen the increasing popularity and availability of alternatives to peanut butter’s Big Three: Jif, Skippy, and Peter Pan. Artisanal and organic varieties are easier than ever to find as food entrepreneurs try to do to peanut butter what Starbucks did to coffee. newyorker.



Il 19 novembre Michiko Kakutani, critica letteraria del New York Times, ha pubblicato la sua recensione al libro di Calvin Trillin, Dogfight (Random House) - una divertente satira delle ultime elezioni americane in versi - anch'essa in versi. Eccone un assaggio:

This book lacks a certain je ne sais quoi
Some Trillin rhymes are unnecessarily blah.
Maybe the poet’s tired of pols and their game
And so fallen back on lines that are lame.
Still, a weary Trillin is better than none,
So this isn’t a book the reader should shun. nyt.


Shani Boianjiu

Di Shani Boianjiu avevo parlato in un post del 19/6/12. Avevo presentato un suo racconto uscito sul New Yorker del 25/6/12, "Means of Suppressing Demonstrations". Mi era piaciuto molto, parla di una ragazza e un ragazzo israeliani che prestano servizio militare a un checkpoint. Ora di Shani Boianjiu è uscito un libro (di cui quel racconto era una parte, come spesso avviene per i racconti del New Yorker), The People of Forever Are Not Afraid (Hogarth). Secondo un'amica americana che ha consciuto bene Shani quando studiava a Harvard, sia la giovane scrittrice che il suo libro sono stati molto osteggiati a Harvard. 
In occasione dell'uscita del libro, lo scorso settembre, il New York Times intervista la scrittrice. Per leggere l'intervista cliccare qui, per leggere o rileggere il racconto qui.