Artists in the Kitchen

Auguro a tutti BUON ANNO NUOVO con la segnalazione di un curioso libro di cucina, The Modern Art Cookbook, di Mary Ann Caws (Reaktion). Ecco quel che ne dice Alex Danchev:
"Connecting the senses is what The Modern Art Cookbook is all about. For Mary Ann Caws, the larger purpose of this delectable anthology is the association of reading, looking and cooking. It is a potpourri (or perhaps a bouillabaisse) of literary texts in verse and prose, recipes and images: paintings, for the most part, spiced with photographs and film stills – Salvador Dalí photographed by Luis Buñuel, Cadaqués, 1929, opposite Pablo Picasso’s Scramble in Sea Urchin Shells (sixteen sea urchins, six very fresh eggs, two soup spoons of crème fraiche, twelve chervil sprigs, salt and pepper); Edward Weston, “Pepper No.30” (1930), opposite Nancy Willard’s “How To Stuff a Pepper”; Bogart and bottle in Casablanca, opposite a recipe for Maryse Condé’s Planter’s Punch; the servants at table, below stairs, in The Rules of the Game, opposite a recipe for Jean Renoir’s Potato Salad, from that same film".TLS.

L'aggiornamento del blog riprenderà  il 10 gennaio 2014.


La Lolita di Dorothy Parker

Auguro ai miei lettori buon Natale con un articolo interessantissimo - una sorta di giallo - su un racconto di Dorothy Parker intitolato "Lolita", uscito sul New Yorker alla fine dell'agosto del 1955, pochi giorni prima che Lolita di Nabokov uscisse in Francia, dopo esser stato rifiutato da tutti gli editori newyorchesi.
"By 1955, the writing careers of Vladimir Nabokov and Dorothy Parker were headed in opposite directions. Parker’s was in a deep slump. The New Yorker—a magazine she had been instrumental in founding—had not published her fiction in fourteen years. Nabokov, by contrast, was becoming a literary sensation. The New Yorker had published several of his short stories as well as chapters of his autobiography Conclusive Evidence and of his novel Pnin. His next novel, Lolita, would bring him worldwide recognition for its virtuosic prose and the shocking story of a middle-aged man’s relationship with his pubescent stepdaughter and her aggressive mother. It was a manuscript that Nabokov circulated very little because he feared the controversy that would erupt when it was published.
Yet three weeks before Lolita arrived in bookstores in France, where it first came out that September, Parker published a story—in The New Yorker, of all places—titled “Lolita,” and it centered on an older man, a teen bride, and her jealous mother. How could this have come to pass?" Galya Diment su vulture.


Daniel Mendelsohn on Criticism

Da un'intervista a Daniel Mendelsohn su come concepisce la critica letteraria:
I want to end by asking you about your experience of teaching. Do you think it might be worth teaching undergraduates not only how to write academic essays but also how to write criticism of the kind one finds in magazines and popular journals?

First of all, I think undergraduates should be kept away from Theory at all costs. I don’t think people should be allowed to even hear the word “theory” until they’re doing graduate work—for the very good reason that it’s impossible to theorise about texts before one has deep familiarity with them (not that that stopped anyone in the 1980s when I was in grad school). Undergraduates should be taught to have a clean appreciation of what texts say and how they say them, and learn how to write intelligently and clearly about that. If undergraduates had to have a model of criticism it ought to be popular criticism rather than traditional academic criticism. prospectmagazine.


Primo Levi: The Matter of a Life

Primo Levi: The Matter of a Life è il titolo della biografia di Primo Levi scritta da Berel Lang (Yale UP). "Lang is an emeritus professor of philosophy at SUNY Albany who has written widely on the Holocaust. His book on Levi is an intellectual biography characterized by a somewhat schematic set of speculations on some of the basic elements of Levi’s life, each one arranged around the central experience of Auschwitz. Among the questions Lang ponders: If it wasn’t for Auschwitz, would Levi have written at all? If it wasn’t for Auschwitz, would he have become a self-conscious Jew? If it wasn’t for Auschwitz, would he have killed himself? The book begins with the question of Levi’s suicide, which Lang rightly says is almost always the first thing people talk about when Levi’s name comes up". thenation.


The Most of Nora Ephron

The MOST of Nora Ephron (Knopf) racchiude tutti gli scritti, giornalistici e non, della scrittrice, che viene descritta acutamente da Heather Havrilesky, in contrapposizione a Joan Didion
"When life gave Ephron lemons, in other words, she made a giant vat of really good vodka-spiked lemonade and invited all of her friends and her friends’ friends over to share it, and gossip, and play charades. Whereas when life gave Joan Didion lemons, she stared at them for several months, and then crafted a haunting bit of prose about the lemon and orange groves that were razed and paved over to make Hollywood, in all of its sooty wretchedness—which is precisely what this mixed-up world does to everything that’s fresh and young and full of promise. ...
Didion’s preoccupation with the cultural tides might naturally seem to dwarf Ephron’s concern with the mundane dilemmas that haunt urban aristocrats—why bother with egg-white omelets, exactly? how would we live without Teflon?—but Ephron was just as skilled at identifying the ever-changing mood around her. Who else but Ephron could express the fickle tastes of the Manhattan bourgeoisie through their shifting opinions of salad? “This was right around the time endive was discovered, which was followed by arugula, which was followed by radicchio, which was followed by frisée, which was followed by the three M’s—mesclun, mâche, and microgreens—and that, in a nutshell, is the history of the last forty years from the point of view of lettuce.” bookforum.


La madre di tutte le lingue

Un eccentrico ricercatore statunitense che ora vive in Israele cerca di dimostrare che la lingua madre di tutte le lingue è l'ebraico biblico. Si tratta di Isaac E. Mozeson, fondatore del movimento chiamato "Edenics".
"It was a little birdie that whispered the Edenic concept into my ear back in 1978,” Mozeson wrote, describing a time when he was a doctoral student of literature at New York University (he never completed the degree). “I was stuck with a boring linguistics requirement. One day our professor was demonstrating the genius of what he said was the Indo-European root for the generic bird word SPER. Suddenly my mind harkened back to my second-grade Hebrew class when I first learned a similar generic word for bird … TSIPOR.”
This chance event set off in Mozeson a train of thought that would consume him for the next 35 years as he came to believe—and set out to prove—that Hebrew was the root of all languages. The lack of approval from the linguistics establishment did not dampen Mozeson’s enthusiasm for his theory, and he went on to publish two books on the subject. The Word: The Dictionary That Reveals the Hebrew Roots of English (1989), a 300-page book with some 20,000 English-Hebrew linked words, and The Origin of Speeches (2006), in which words from multiple languages are connected to Hebrew". Hezy Laing su tablet.


Stay: A History of Suicide

Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It è il titolo di un libro - sul suicidio e sulle ragioni per non commetterlo - di Jennifer Michael Hecht (Princeton UP). 
"Jennifer Michael Hecht presents two big counterideas that she hopes people contemplating potential suicides will keep in their heads. Her first is that, “Suicide is delayed homicide.” Suicides happen in clusters, with one person’s suicide influencing the other’s. If a parent commits suicide, his or her children are three times as likely to do so at some point in their lives. In the month after Marilyn Monroe’s overdose, there was a 12 percent increase in suicides across America. People in the act of committing suicide may feel isolated, but, in fact, they are deeply connected to those around. As Hecht put it, if you want your niece to make it through her dark nights, you have to make it through yours. Her second argument is that you owe it to your future self to live". David Brooks, nyt.


Il primo libro d'America

Il primo libro stampato in inglese d'America è "The Whole Booke of Psalmes". Alla fine di novembre una delle undici copie rimaste è stata venduta all'asta da Sotheby's a Manhattan per 14.2 milioni di dollari. A comprarla è stato David Rubenstein. "Rubenstein, a co-founder of the private equity firm the Carlyle Group, whose worth Forbes has estimated at $2.5 billion, has given away tens of millions, if not more, in philanthropy, and is famous for buying important copies of iconic documents such as the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence and the Emancipation Proclamation and loaning them to branches of the federal government". huffingtonpost.



Selfie” — defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website” — has beaten out “twerk,” “bitcoin” and other comers to claim the title of Oxford Dictionaries 2013 Word of the Year. ...
This year’s short list also included “binge-watch,” “schmeat” (synthetic meat), “showrooming” (the practice of inspecting items in shops before buying them online), “olinguito” (a small furry mammal discovered in the mountain forests of Ecuador and Colombia in August) and the very British “bedroom tax,” which refers to a reduction in government benefits to people who rent larger apartments than deemed necessary. nyt.



A Gutenberg Bible, a dazzlingly illuminated 15th-century Hebrew Bible from Spain and a copy of Maimonides’s 12th-century commentary on the Mishnah written in the philosopher’s own hand are among the rare bibles and biblical commentaries from the Vatican Library and the Bodleian Libraries at Oxford that have been digitized and posted online, as part of a collaboration between the institutions that went live on Tuesday. nyt.


Perché amiamo i romanzoni?

Why do readers — in defiance of conventional wisdom about shortened attention spans, small-screen devices and pinched schedules — persist in loving long, long novels?
Si chiede Laura Miller, critica letteraria di Salon?
E risponde:
"Part of the allure is simple gluttony: If you’re loving a book, it’s delightful to know that there’s plenty of it. But I believe there’s also an inherent appeal in fat novels, something that only written fiction can offer and that short stories, for all their felicities, aren’t able to provide. You can be swallowed up by a long novel, immersed in the world its author has created in a fashion that no other medium can rival. No, not even boxed sets of HBO series consumed in day-long binges! This immersion reminds many of us of our first, luxuriant plunges into books as children, and any author who can take us back to the place where we forget where we are and how much time has passed will pretty much have us eating out of her hand for good.
The pleasure readers find in this experience is often disdained by literary critics because it tends to hijack your ability to regard and evaluate the book as a work of art". salon.


Il nuovo uso di "because"

English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet. Questo è il titolo di un breve e interessante articolo di Megan Garber sulla funzione da preposizione che "because" assume sempre più spesso nell'inglese moderno.
"Let's start with the dull stuff, because pragmatism. The word "because," in standard English usage, is a subordinating conjunction, which means that it connects two parts of a sentence in which one (the subordinate) explains the other. In that capacity, "because" has two distinct forms. It can be followed either by a finite clause (I'm reading this because [I saw it on the web]) or by a prepositional phrase (I'm reading this because [of the web]). These two forms are, traditionally, the only ones to which "because" lends itself.
I mention all that ... because language. Because evolution. Because there is another way to use "because." Linguists are calling it the "prepositional-because." Or the "because-noun." theatlantic.


Alexander Payne’s Nebraska

Alexander Payne’s wonderful new movie, Nebraska, a deeply felt but—thanks to Payne’s signature drollery—never sentimental homage to a son’s relationship with his crusty father. Or, to be more precise, the relationship the son wishes he’d had with a father who might have been, as opposed to the actual one who accompanies him on a quixotic quest across Nebraska to collect a bogus sweepstakes prize. vanityfair.


Are older novels about love more powerful?

La domanda completa, che pone la scrittrice Adelle Waldman, è "Are older novels about love more powerful because their protagonists contended with societal repression, instead of merely struggling with their lovers and with themselves—with their conflicting desires and changing moods? Have the liberation of women and liberalization of divorce law really deprived the novel of its high stakes?"

E la risposta che giustamente dà è "I think the answer is no. The issue turns on where we think the narrative power of those older novels originates—whether it’s attributable to the social constraints on their characters (as well as the satisfying decisiveness of their fates—the suicides on the one hand or marriages that last “forever” on the other), or if, instead, these novels are, like so many contemporary novels, primarily dependent on psychological and internal drama". newyorker

In effetti Waldman ha scritto un bel drammone sentimentale, modernissimo e newyorkesissimo, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.  (Holt).


Find the Bad Guy

"Find the Bad Guy" è il titolo del racconto, bello, di Jeffrey Eugenides, uscito la scorsa settimana sul New Yorker. Ancor più bella, direi, è l'intervista all'autore da parte del suo editor, Cressida Leyshon. Eugenides parla del suo modo di scrivere e dice, tra l'altro, "Houses are important in fiction. “Howard’s End” is maybe the best example, but there are lots of others. Nabokov drew the floor plan to the Samsas’s apartment in his lecture on “The Metamorphosis,” and I’ve always kept that lesson in mind. If you picture a house or an apartment when you’re writing, you can see your characters more clearly. You know where they are, and you move them through a defined space. The reader can sense when a writer isn’t sure about these logistics. If you’re unsure about the room your characters are situated in, some of that fuzziness will get transmitted into the scene itself. You need to have specificity around you, even if you don’t mention one item of that specificity". newyorker.


The Twenty-Seventh City

The Twenty-Seventh City è il titolo del primo romanzo di Jonathan Franzen, uscito nel 1988 e ora ripubblicato da Picador per celebrarne il 25simo anniversario. "Some books ought to be allowed to molder in peace. Jonathan Franzen’s first novel, The Twenty-Seventh City, published in 1988, is a paranoid conspiracy novel, the kind of thing that doesn’t age well—and hasn’t. It has earned some rest. But it’s been trotted out for its 25th anniversary, and to make matters worse, saddled with a new introduction, a moist and ghastly piece of writing by an academic named Philip Weinstein. ...
The Twenty-Seventh City is one big mask,” Franzen told the Paris Review in 2010. “I was a skinny, scared kid trying to write a big novel. The mask I donned was that of a rhetorically airtight, extremely smart, extremely middle-aged writer. To write about what was really going on in me with respect to my parents, with respect to my wife, with respect to my sense of self, with respect to my masculinity—there was just no way I could bring that to the surface.” Parul Sehgal per slate.


Susan Sontag: The Complete Rolling Stone Interview

Susan Sontag: The Complete Rolling Stone Interview è il titolo di un libro di Jonathan Cott, uscito presso la Yale University Press. Contiene l'edizione completa di una famosa intervista rilasciata da Sontag alla rivista Rolling Stone nel 1978 e pubblicata, allora, solo in parte. Qui è accompagnata da una prefazione e note di Jonathan Cott, uno degli editor della rivista.
"But this long and largely genial portrait of the (not always quite so genial) intellectual in middle age also amounts to a strong and deeply personal argument about what it means to be cultured—an argument for why a middle-aged intellectual might be something worth being in the first place. Part of what is so appealing about Sontag’s thinking is the absence of any heavy intellectual machinery being brought to bear on whatever topic she happens to be considering; there is rarely very much in the way of dogma to be contended with. But there is a kind of personal dialectic at work in her attitude toward herself, toward her writing and reading and thinking and speaking. “The most awful thing,” as she puts it in the book’s final lines, “would be to feel that I’d agree with the things I’ve already said and written—that is what would make me most uncomfortable because that would mean that I had stopped thinking.” Mark O'Connell per slate.


Tama Janowitz

Tama Janowitz, ve la ricordate? L'autrice di Slaves of New York sembra dimenticata. Ho trovato questo ritratto/intervista che ci aggiorna su di lei. "Like others, I had long wondered what had happened to the author of Slaves of New York, A Certain Age, Peyton Amberg, Area 212, and other classics of this breakout star of the 1980s. Meanwhile, the rest of the Literary Brat Pack continues to be up to the usual antics. Jay McInerney has a book out on wine. Bret Easton Ellis recently wrote the script for The Canyons, a film by Paul Schrader about a porn star, starring Lindsay Lohan and James Deen. (Ellis also spent last fall hyping himself via Twitter as the right person to write the movie adaptation of E.L. James’ best-selling erotic trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey, only to lose out to British producer Kelly Marcel.) Janowitz, too, has published regularly since Slaves of New York, the collection of short stories about struggling artists that made her an overnight sensation in 1986. But unlike her counterparts who seem to court the gossip column, she doesn’t have a website or a Twitter feed, or lengthy search results on Perez Hilton. Batya Ungar-Sargon su tablet.


Alphabet Books for Adults

Per restare sull'argomento dei libri sull'alfabeto, Alphabet Books for Adults è il titolo di un corso tenuto da Jacquelyn Ardam, graduate student di letteratura inglese a UCLA. Il syllabus presenta un elenco interessante di libri sull'alfabeto, e inizia in questo modo: "Most books about the alphabet are geared toward kids; they're for pre- and early readers who are just beginning to learn about letters, the basic building blocks of language. But the last century has seen the publication of a number of alphabet-related books that appeal to adults too. Some of these books were written with an adult audience in mind, while others transcend their intended youthful audience through their innovative form and content. All of the books on this list contain adult pleasures; they use the alphabetic sequence as a means to reflect on topics as varied as globalization, mortality, modern art, and, of course, language itself. We adults may already know the alphabet, but these books insist that we have been taking it for granted for far too long". bookforum.


H, la lettera più litigiosa

Michael Rosen, scrittore inglese per bambini, ha scritto un bel libro sulle lettere dell'alfabeto, Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story (John Murray). "Actually, in the course of writing my book about the history of the letters we use, Alphabetical, I discovered that the alphabet is far from neutral. Debates about power and class surround every letter, and H is the most contentious of all. No other letter has had such power to divide people into opposing camps. In Britain, H owes its name to the Normans, who brought their letter "hache" with them in 1066. Hache is the source of our word "hatchet": probably because a lower-case H looks a lot like an axe. ". guardian.


For Who(m) the Bell Tolls

For Who the Bell Tolls, il cui sottotilo fa: One's Man Quest for Grammatical Perfection, di David Marsh (Faber) è un manuale scherzoso di stile, scritto da un editor del Guardian
"With admirable clarity, Marsh goes on to explain the gerund and subjunctive, the difference between comparing to and comparing with, and the correct use of "whom", avoidance of which has given this book its deliberately teeth-grating title. Cleverly, Marsh here inverts the usual reasons for understanding conventions. You need to know the rule for "whom" not because you should use "whom" whenever appropriate (because it will sometimes sound pompous), but because you need absolutely to avoid using "whom" when it should actually be "who", since that will sound both pompous and stupid". guardian.


The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets

The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets è il titolo di un libro di Simon Singh (Bloomsbury), un fisico laureato a Cambridge che ora si occupa di divulgazione scientifica. Qui sostiene che i Simpson siano pieni di allusioni matematiche. "But "the truth", according to Singh, "is that many of the writers of The Simpsons are deeply in love with numbers, and their ultimate desire is to drip-feed morsels of mathematics into the subconscious minds of viewers". "Ultimate desire" may be pushing it, but as Singh demonstrates in his lively book, there's no shortage of mathematical jokes and references scattered through the show. Whether or not the writers of The Simpsons are covertly using a cartoon to foist mathematical concepts on the unwary, Singh without question is". guardian.


Donna Tartt e Michael Pietsch

Donna Tartt e Michael Pietsch
Slate propone un interessante dialogo tra la scrittrice Donna Tartt (di cui è recentemente uscito il romano The Goldfinch) e il suo editor a Little, Brown and Company, Michael Pietsch.
Pietsch: The editor works in disappearing ink. If a writer takes a suggestion, it becomes part of her creation. If not, it never happened. The editor’s work is and always should be invisible.
Most writers I know have more than one editor, beyond the one who works for the publishing company that has invested in their book—a small cadre whose advice on the manuscript they solicit and listen to. Do you have such a group?
Tartt: No not a group, though I have one or two people whose opinion I trust. slate.


The Chelsea Hotel, 2

Su Vanity Fair si trovano anche delle belle foto del Chelsea Hotel come è ora, prima della ristrutturazione, e di alcuni degli appartamenti ancora abitati. "You could go to one floor and talk about theater with Stefan Brecht,” remembers former resident Scott Griffin, “and go to another floor and talk to Arnold Weinstein about poetry and then have dinner downstairs with Arthur Miller. There aren’t many buildings in New York like that". vanityfair.


The Chelsea Hotel

Il Chelsea Hotel è in fase di ristrutturazione. Perderà la sua aura? Vanity Fair gli dedica un lungo articolo, corredato da molte testimonianze. E annuncia l'uscita di un libro che ne racconta la storia, Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New York's Legendary Chelsea Hotel, di Sherill Tippins (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
"Today the halls of the Chelsea Hotel are salted with dust. The hundreds of paintings that adorned its walls have been locked away in storage. The doors to abandoned apartments are whitewashed and padlocked. Hotel operations ceased in 2011 for the first time in 106 years, and now the few remaining residents roam the echoing corridors like ghosts. They have watched workers haul out antique moldings, stained glass, even entire walls. Ancient pipes ruptured during renovations, flooding apartments, and neighbors returned home from work to find their front doors sealed in plastic wrap. The Chelsea’s new owners say that the building had fallen into dangerous disrepair, and they are restoring it to its original condition. Some residents believe that they are being forced out, and that the Chelsea as they know it—and as it was known to residents from Sherwood Anderson and Thomas Wolfe to Sid Vicious and Jasper Johns—will soon vanish before the city’s merchant greed". vanityfair.


The Perils of Precocity

"The Perils of Precocity" è una storia molto carina di Thomas Beller, uscita sul blog del New Yorker. Ha a che fare una lettrice bambina e con la lettura in generale. Ecco l'inizio, "Something strange is going on with my six-year-old daughter’s reading habits. Until a few days ago, she had no reading habits. Now she suddenly has her face stuck in all sorts of books that are not age-appropriate. This is especially striking because Evangeline has always been drawn to the screen". newyorker
Ripropongo la foto dell'articolo perché mi sembra anch'essa molto carina.


The Luminaries

The Luminaries è il titolo di un romanzone (848 pag., editore McClelland & Stewart) della scrittrice neozelandese Eleanor Catton, che è tra le finaliste del Man Booker Prize. Amazon lo definisce un "neo-Victorian murder mystery". Jenny Hendrix dice, "The Luminaries is, among other things, an experiment in predetermination. By extinguishing every coincidence, it turns literature into the same kind of problem as astrology: Do we want structural interpretation to dictate narrative, or is it best when a story’s structure, as one character puts it, “always changes in the telling”? slate.


How to Be a Person

How to Be a Person: The Stranger’s Guide to College, Sex, Intoxicants, Tacos, and Life Itself, Lindy West, Dan Savage, Christopher Frizzelle, Bethany Jean Clement, and the staff of the Stranger (Sasquatch Books). Il libro che dovrebbero leggere gli studenti di college, secondo Laura Helmuth, science and health editor di Slate. Perché:
"It’s full of funny, practical, opinionated, smart advice about everything college students are too embarrassed to ask about or don’t even know that they should ask about. How to get along with a roommate. How to get a date. How to break up. How to deal with a hangover. How to throw a party. How to come out of the closet. How to manage your finances. Plus lots of juicy sex advice from Dan Savage. Reading this book sure beats learning all about life through trial and error and lots of mortification like the rest of us did". slate.


Lore Segal

Una simpatica intervista alla scrittrice Lore Segal, di cui è appena uscito un nuovo romanzo, Half the Kingdom (Melville House). "Ms. Segal’s fifth book in a career that has spanned across five decades is called Half the Kingdom. It begins at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in New York where all the patients over the age of 62 have suddenly developed dementia; Joe Bernstine of the Concordance Institute has been tasked with figuring out why. The narrative jumps between dozens of characters that shuffle in and out, many of which appear in Ms. Segal’s earlier fiction. She has always toyed with the contradictions and overlaps of the banal and the fantastical, and here is its culmination: a fairy tale about the elderly. Ms. Segal’s writing deconstructs the very idea of aging and never shies from the embarrassment that comes with trying to fit in or bearing disappointment. Her career has been a half-century struggle with the conventions of language and the humor inherent in pain, a long meta-commentary on the role of the author herself". observer.


James Wood on Alice Munro

Molto bella l'analisi di James Wood della storia di Alice Munro "The Bear Came Over the Mountain".

"But two additional elements, both characteristic of Munro’s careful art, make it a great story. First, there is Munro’s astounding lack of sentimentality ... The second very Munro-ish element is the formal freedom of the story, which compacts a lot of life into a short space, and moves backwards and forwards over a great deal of terrain." newyorker.


Alice Munro

Parla l'editor di Alice Munro del New Yorker, Deborah Treisman, "Editing Alice Munro’s stories is sometimes a lesson in feeling extraneous. As I’m preparing to tell her that the final paragraph isn’t landing right, she is already faxing a new ending; as I mark up page 5, to show that something hasn’t been properly set up, she is calling to say that she has put a new page 5 in the mail. Sometimes I see a paragraph on page 10 that seems an unnecessary diversion and cross it out; when I get to page 32, I understand why it was absolutely crucial to the story and have to retrace my steps. As we go through the proofs by phone, Alice throws each discussed page on the floor. Going back to an earlier scene requires scavenging. ..." da leggere per intero. newyorker.


Perché così poche donne nelle facoltà scientifiche?

Chiara Daraio, prof. di areonautica  a Pasadena
Un articolo interessante sulla scarsità di donne nelle facoltà scientifiche - fisica e matematica soprattutto - nelle grandi università americane. Un articolo pieno di dati statistici e testimonianze, come sempre, ma che sembra non cogliere del tutto il punto.  
Mi sembra che in Europa - e anche in Italia, un paese apparentemente assai più sessista degli USA - le cose vadano un po' diversamente. Magari le donne non riescono a trovare lavoro (ma neppure gli uomini), ma le facoltà scientifiche ora sono piene di donne.
"Last summer, researchers at Yale published a study proving that physicists, chemists and biologists are likely to view a young male scientist more favorably than a woman with the same qualifications. Presented with identical summaries of the accomplishments of two imaginary applicants, professors at six major research institutions were significantly more willing to offer the man a job. If they did hire the woman, they set her salary, on average, nearly $4,000 lower than the man’s. Surprisingly, female scientists were as biased as their male counterparts...." Eileen Pollack, nyt.


Scrivere di sesso

Il "Sunday Book Review" del New York Times della scorsa domenica è dedicato al sesso. Tra i vari articoli scelgo le riflessioni di Erica Jong, 40 anni dopo la pubblicazione del suo Fear of Flying
"Let’s go back to when I was writing “Fear of Flying.” What an amazing time the late ’60s and early ’70s was; you could follow a plume of smoke down the streets of Manhattan and get a contact high. Primitivism was the rage. So was magic. So was feminism. So were sex, open marriage, ethnic equality. We kvelled over books like “Man’s Rise to Civilization as Shown by the Indians of North America From Primeval Times to the Coming of the Industrial State” and “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”; “The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge,” by Carlos Castaneda; “Sisterhood Is Powerful,” edited by Robin Morgan; “Couples,” by John Updike; and “Portnoy’s Complaint,” by Philip Roth. Add to that the poems of Allen Ginsberg — who was already publishing in the ’50s but was suddenly famous in the ’60s because of his public protests against the Vietnam War. And thanks to the Grove Press publisher Barney Rosset and other brave souls, literary censorship had been defeated, and we could now read “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” or “Tropic of Cancer” without going to the locked rare book room at a university library". nytbr.


The Letters of J.F. Powers

J.F. Powers è un bravo scrittore americano di racconti da noi praticamente sconosciuto. Il suo interesse narrativo era soprattutto rivolto al mondo dei cattolici americani del dopoguerra, che descriveva con eleganza e una satira bonaria. E' stato collaboratore del New Yorker. Ora è uscita una raccolta di sue lettere, Suitable Accommodations: An Autobiographical Story of Family Life (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), a cura di una dei suoi cinque figli, Katherine A. Powers. Adam Gopnik ne parla sul New Yorker, "... the book provides a wonderful picture of a now lost type: the radical-liberal Catholic of the forties and fifties, whose allegiance to the rules of the Church (all those children!) was part and parcel of his allegiance to what would now seem an extravagant, not to say extremist, egalitarian politics. Katherine Powers rightly calls this' the nearly forgotten American Catholic countercultural religious and social ferment of the mid-twentieth century'." newyorker.


Bookforum intervista Jules Feiffer

And yet he made an interesting film! And a lot of that film works. I was lucky to work with wonderful people. I also did a film with Alan Resnais.
Bookforum: That’s what I meant about the range!
Jules Feiffer: It seems like heady stuff, and of course it was heady. But primarily, it was work I was interested in and work I loved and work that was challenging, and problems that had to be solved, and how to make something better, and how you get it right, not in the first place or second, third, or fifteenth place.
What you learn when you work with first-rate people, whether it’s Mike Nichols or Arkin, is that they are, invariably, except for Altman, less temperamental and less difficult than second-rate people, who always make a problem. The first-rate people are never defensive. And they are quite willing and happy to blame themselves when things get fucked up. bookforum.


Dante narcolettico?

Vengo a sapere dalla stampa anglosassone, dal Guardian in primis, che Dante probabilmente soffriva di narcolessia, secondo il prof. Giuseppe Plazzi dell'università di Bologna.
"Now, an Italian academic has come up with an explanation for why the Florentine poet was apparently so obsessed with slumber – and it's not all about literary technique. Dante, he argues, may have suffered from the neurological disorder narcolepsy.
"I suggest that six centuries before the first scientific report, Dante … depicted narcolepsy with cataplexy (NC) in his literary works as an autobiographical trait," writes Giuseppe Plazzi of the University of Bologna's department of biomedical and neuro-motor sciences in an article for the Sleep Medicine journal". guardian.



FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. Non conoscevo questo acronimo. Lo usa Joshua Ferris (nella foto) in un'intervista sul New Yorker a proposito del suo racconto appena uscito, "The Breeze". L'intervistatore gli chiede infatti come abbia potuto scrivere un racconto sulla frenesia che prende la protagonista in una sera di primavera senza mai usare la parola FOMO. Ecco come risponde Ferris.
"I have lots of FOMO. I get FOMO just choosing what to have for breakfast. You’ve got to go outside, that’s what I’ve learned. Most of your FOMO can be taken care of just by stepping outside and looking up at the sunlight. That’s not possible at night. At night, you just have to seize hold of something or someone that seems worthy of your undivided attention regardless of where you are or what you’re doing. It’s not easy. It’s learning to reconcile yourself. Like memory: have faith you’ll remember what’s important. Have faith you’re in the right place, doing the right thing. Ain’t easy, especially when you look around and everything’s black, boring, and sucky. But it’s important for me to keep in mind: in any given situation, if I can ignore the nagging FOMO, I might make something of the experience, take something meaningful away from it no matter the circumstances". newyorker.


Pitigrilli di Alexander Stille

Molto interessante, l'articolo di Alexander Stille su Pitigrilli, in particolare su Cocaina. "Behind Italy’s official façade of bourgeois morality, traditional family life, and patriotism, Pitigrilli saw a world driven by sex, power and greed, in which adultery, illegitimate children, and hypocrisy were the order of the day and husbands and wives were little more than respectable-seeming pimps and prostitutes. nybooks.


Pet Words

The word “sweet” appears eight hundred and forty times in your complete Shakespeare. Or nearly a thousand times, if you accept close variants (“out-sweeten’d,” “true-sweet,” “sweetheart”). This level of use comes as no surprise to anyone who loves the sonnets and plays: whether in moments of fondest coaxing and chiding (“When your sweet issue your sweet form should bear”) or abject anguish and empathy (“Bless thy sweet eyes—they bleed”), Shakespeare reliably repaired to a sugared lexicon. ... 
Every poet, every novelist has his or her pet words. Which words these may be dawns on you gradually as you enter the world of a new writer. The deeper you read, the more likely it is that a fresh line in effect becomes an old line, as a signature vocabulary term rings out variations on previous usages. Of course, with many major authors this process of identifying pet words can be hastened and simplified by consulting a concordance. Either way, you’ll likely discover that your author’s personal dictionary contains an abundance of amiable acquaintances, but a select few intimate friends. Brad Leithauser, newyorker.



Bookends è una nuova "feature" (come si potrebbe tradurre in italiano? aiutatemi amiche traduttrici!) della New York Review of Books. Nell'ultima pagina sarà chiamato a dibattere di un qualche argomento provocatorio un intellettuale da un elenco di 10 che vedete nell'illustrazione in alto (sapete riconoscerli?). "... each week two distinguished columnists (from a rotating cast of 10) will address a provocative question from the world of books. First up, Zoë Heller and Adam Kirsch answer the question: “Are novelists too wary of criticizing other novelists?”. nyt.


"Brokeback Mountain" Opera

Annie Proulx ha scritto il libretto dell'opera tratta dal suo famoso racconto, "Brokeback Mountain". "Ms. Proulx has written the libretto for Charles Wuorinen’s long-awaited new opera of “Brokeback Mountain,” based on her story of the doomed love of two cowboys, which will have its world premiere Jan. 28 at the Teatro Real in Madrid. Ms. Proulx said in a statement that one of her goals in writing it was “to preserve the dry and laconic western tone” of the story", nyt.


I racconti hasidici di Woody Allen

Negli anni '70 Woody Allen scrisse per il New Yorker una serie di parodie dei racconti hasidici di Buber. Ora David Remnick le ripropone, e vale veramente la pena leggerle. "Buber has been criticized for romanticizing Hasidism, for failing to confront what critics see as its obscurantism, but his service to the literature is immense. Also, his scholarly work led to a sublime bit of parody: Woody Allen’s re-telling and parody of those knotty, earthy, enigmatic stories—“Hassidic Tales, With a Guide to Their Interpretation by the Noted Scholar”—was engaged with their zaniness and the deadpan tone of interpretation", new yorker.


Libri in uscita a settembre

Among the big works of literary fiction coming out this month is Jonathan Lethem’s new novel, “Dissident Gardens” (Doubleday, out September 10th). Set in New York City and spanning from the nineteen-thirties to the present day, it follows a mother-daughter pair—Rose Zimmer, a fierce radical nicknamed the Red Queen of Sunnyside, and her daughter, Miriam, who migrates from Queens to Greenwich Village—and their left-wing milieu. 

... e molti altri ...  newyorker.


Literary Architecture

One Friday evening in March, I took the train to Columbia University and walked into one of the strangest and most interesting classes I’d ever seen. It was the Laboratory of Literary Architecture, part of the Mellon Visiting Artists and Thinkers Program at Columbia University School of the Arts, and a multimedia workshop in which writing students, quite literally, create architectural models of literary texts. For the past four years, Matteo Pericoli has led the workshop at the Turin-based Scuola Holden creative writing school, and this year, he brought the concept to New York. While the idea seems intuitive enough—each student chooses a text he or she knows inside out, and then builds it—the challenges arise in interpretation. Sadie Stein su theparisreview.



Twerking, the rump-busting up-and-down dance move long beloved on America's hip-hop scene, has officially gone mainstream. It's got the English dictionary entry to prove it. ...
"Twerk" will be added to the dictionary as part of its quarterly update, which includes words such as "selfie," the word typically used to describe pouty smartphone self-portraits, "digital detox" for time spent way from Facebook and Twitter, and "Bitcoin," for the nationless electronic currency whose gyrations have also caught the world's eye. bigstory.


Why Teach English, 2

Ed ecco l'opinione della presidentessa di Brown University, Christina Paxson, sempre sull'importanza delle Humanities. "We don’t want a nation of technical experts in one subject. We want a scintillating civil society in which everyone can talk to everyone. That was a quality that Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of when he visited the United States at the beginning of the 1830s. Even in that era before mass communication, before the telegraph, before the Internet, we were engaged in an American conversation that stretched from one end of the country to another. In a similar manner, Martin Luther King Jr. sketched a “web of mutuality” in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” fifty years ago this year. We want politicians who have read Shakespeare—as Lincoln did. We want bankers and lawyers who have read Homer and Dante. We want factory owners who have read Dickens". newrepublic.


Why Teach English?

Si ricomincia. Da dove eravamo rimasti, in un certo senso. Dal declino delle Humanities, negli USA e un po' ovunque. Ecco un bell'articolo sull'argomento di Adam Gopnik. "Whence, and where, and why the English major? The subject is in every mouth—or, at least, is getting kicked around agitatedly in columns and reviews and Op-Ed pieces. The English major is vanishing from our colleges as the Latin prerequisite vanished before it, we’re told, a dying choice bound to a dead subject. The estimable Verlyn Klinkenborg reports in the Times that “At Pomona College (my alma mater) this spring, 16 students graduated with an English major out of a student body of 1,560, a terribly small number,” and from other, similar schools, other, similar numbers. ... So why have English majors? Well, because many people like books. Most of those like to talk about them after they’ve read them, or while they’re in the middle. Some people like to talk about them so much that they want to spend their lives talking about them to other people who like to listen. Some of us do this all summer on the beach, and others all winter in a classroom. One might call this a natural or inevitable consequence of literacy. And it’s this living, irresistible, permanent interest in reading that supports English departments, and makes sense of English majors". newyorker.


New York Arbor

New York Arbor è il titolo di un bellissimo libro di fotografie in bianco e nero degli alberi di New York. L'autore è il fotografo americano Mitch Epstein. Con questa foto - non estiva, ma suggestiva - auguro ai mie lettori una buona estate. Nei mesi di luglio e agosto non riuscirò ad aggiornare il blog con regolarità. Riprenderò a settembre.


The Simon & Schuster Suite at the Algonquin

The Algonquin Hotel, known for its rich literary roots and famous former Round Table regulars (including Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley) and Simon & Schuster announced a partnership that will bring hotel guests and New Yorkers an enhanced visit.
The two brands are celebrating the partnership by unveiling the Simon & Schuster Suite and a series of author events. A Simon & Schuster package will offer guests the chance to book a stay in the suite to enjoy its creature comforts from its well-stocked bookcase of classics and advanced copies of new releases as well as book memorabilia. pw.


Grading Higher Education

More than a century ago, the president of Harvard, A. Lawrence Lowell, issued a warning to America’s colleges and universities. “Institutions,” he said, “are rarely murdered. They meet their end by suicide … They die because they have outlived their usefulness, or fail to do the work that the world wants done.” Most of the institutions he had in mind are still around today, but the doomsday talk is back. William J. Bennett, secretary of education under President Reagan, and Jeffrey Selingo, an editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education, believe our system is self-destructing. Their tones are different — Bennett and his co-author, David Wilezol, write in an expectant mood of good riddance, while Selingo is sympathetically alarmed — but their views are grimly consistent. College costs are up. Learning and graduation rates are down. nyt.

I libri di cui si parla sono: William J. Bennett e David Wilezol, Is College Worth It? (Thomas Nelson); e Jeffrey Selingo, College Unbound (New Harvest).