In Cold Blood

Un bell'articolo di  Patrick Radden Keefe su Capote e the making of In Cold Blood. "But what is interesting, given that Capote omitted any mention of himself from the narrative, is the degree to which we remain fascinated not just by In Cold Blood, but by the process of its creation. Along with these periodic revelations about Capote’s novelistic license, two films in recent years were based not on the book, but on its making.
Some of this persistent interest in the backstory of In Cold Blood may simply be a product of its greatness: even detractors who would like to see it plucked from the True Crime section and reshelved permanently in Fiction still tend to concede that the book was a major literary achievement. But Capote’s infractions also raise enduring questions about the slippery boundary between truth and fiction in narrative journalism, and the relationships that develop between a reporter and his sources. newyorker.


Founding The New York Review

Jason e Barbara Epstein
Continuiamo con la serie di articoli sugli inizi della New York Review of Books, che risalgono a 50 anni fa. Qui è uno dei fondatori, Jason Epstein, l'unico sopravvissuto, a ricordare i fatti: "Of the four friends who met for dinner fifty years ago in Barbara’s and my apartment on West Sixty-Seventh Street during the New York newspaper strike, I am the sole survivor. Though we had no such plan in mind beforehand, it was at that dinner that Elizabeth Hardwick, her husband Robert (Cal) Lowell, Barbara and I saw all at once the opportunity that would become The New York Review of Books. The dinner was impromptu, a last minute plan of Lizzie and Barbara’s, who had met unexpectedly on Columbus Avenue that afternoon; we sat around a makeshift table in our as yet barely furnished apartment, which, with its double-height living room and huge north-facing window, had been designed at the turn of the century for artists. The Lowells also lived on West Sixty-Seventh Street, an easy walk from our own building. ..." nybooks.


Anne Carson

Anne Carson was uncomfortable with the idea of a traditional profile: a journalist following her around for a few days, like a private detective, noting her outfits and mannerisms, shadowing her on errands, making lists of furniture and wall decorations and pets, quizzing her students, standing behind her holding his breath while she tried to write in her journal. Carson is a private person. She prefers to be alone. (When her husband is traveling, Carson will call and tell him, “I miss you, but I’m having a great time.”) Her book jackets have no author photo. Her back-flap biography — “Anne Carson was born in Canada and teaches ancient Greek for a living” — is so minimalist that it sounds like a parody of a back-flap biography. ...
In the end, she agreed to exchange some e-mails.  ...
Here, just to give the flavor, are some excerpts from the e-mails of Anne Carson. ...
On teaching: “when i began to be published, people got the idea that i should ‘teach writing,’ which i have no idea how to do and don’t really believe in. so now and then i find myself engaged by a ‘writing program’ (as at nyu, stanford) and have to bend my wits to deflect the official purpose.” dall'intervista via e-mail di Sam Anderson ad Anne Carson. nyt.


Harlem Rent Party Advertisements

Langston Hughes faceva la collezione dei biglietti che pubblicizzavano i rent parties. "Hosts of these gatherings opened up their apartments for a night, charging a fee to guests in return for live music, dancing, and socializing. Food was extra, and the accumulated cash went to help the hosts pay their rent". slate.


I am a thief

In 1902, Mary MacLane, a nineteen-year-old-girl from Butte, Montana, published a book detailing her fantasies, her outrageous philosophical ideas, and intimations of her own genius. The book was a sensation, selling a hundred thousand copies in its first month, and launching her into a short but fiery life of writing and misadventure. A template for the confessional memoirs that have become ubiquitous, I Await the Devil’s Coming, is being published in a new edition by Melville House this week.

I am a thief.
It has been suggested to me that I am a kleptomaniac. But I am sure my mind is perfectly sane. I have no such excuse. I am a plain, downright thief.
This is only one of my many peculations. I steal money, or anything that I want, whenever I can, nearly always. It amuses me—and one must be amused.
I have only two stipulations: that the person to whom it belongs does not need it pressingly, and that there is not the smallest chance of being found out. (And of course I could not think of stealing from my one friend.)


Marie Ponsot

Marie Ponsot, a poet known for her bold reimaginings of traditional forms, has been awarded the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, one of the most prestigious (and richest) in poetry, which comes with a $100,000 award.
Ms. Ponsot, 91, joins John Ashbery, W.S. Merwin, Lucille Clifton, Adrienne Rich and others on the list of winners of the prize, which was founded in 1986 to honor lifetime achievement. Her work includes the collections “Easy,” “Springing” and “The Bird Catcher” (winner of the 1998 National Book Critics Circle Award), as well as translations of more than 30 books from French.
As part of the honor, Poetry magazine will publish 11 of her poems in its May issue. nyt.


J. M. Coetzee e Paul Auster

Tra il 2008 e il 2011, J. M. Coetzee e Paul Auster hanno intrattenuto una fitta corrispondenza che verteva soprattutto sullo sport. Ora è pubblicata in Here and Now: Letters (2008-2011), da Viking.
"December 30, 2008
Dear Paul,
...  It is high summer in this hemisphere, and I spent most of Sunday sitting in front of a television screen (shades of Wall Street!) watching the third day of a five-day game of cricket between the national teams of Australia and South Africa. I was absorbed, I was emotionally involved, I tore myself away only reluctantly. In order to watch the game I put aside the two or three books I am in the middle of reading". newyorker.


Renata Adler

Renata Adler fotografata da Avedon
Renata Adler è una brava scrittrice, da noi poco cosciuta (mi risultla che solo il suo romanzo Speedboat, Fuoribordo, sia stato tradotto in italiano, nel 1983, da Giancarlo Buzzi per Guanda). Tra l'altro è nata a Milano, nel 1938, da genitori tedeschi in fuga dal nazismo. E' poi approdata in America. Ora i suoi romanzi - scritti negli anni '70 - sono riproposti da Nyrb Classics. "What is amazing about Adler’s novels is the way that they integrate cultural analysis with telling details of social nuance. Speedboat, like Pitch Dark, has just been republished by NYRB Classics, after years of being passed along to new readers like samizdat pamphlets. Both novels have more in common with the New Novel than with the thrillers that Adler has said she loves. Both are written in a “discontinuous first-person” (in Muriel Spark’s phrase) that cumulatively conveys what it is like to be a female intellectual in the world of publishing in the nineteen-seventies. These are not works of realism—they have a dreamlike quality— but they contain as much reality as a Balzac novel does. It’s just that their reality is incantatory, sparse, periodically blazing, and not a little self-consciously neurotic". Meghan O'Rourke, newyorker.


I Do and I Don't

I Do and I Don't è il titolo di un libro di Jeanine Basinger sulla storia dei matrimoni al cinema, edito da Knopf. "Romance movies may demand chemistry, but movies about marriage demand something more difficult to create — a sense that a couple are simpatico, that however much they may bicker and snipe, their deep understanding and feeling for each other will ultimately keep them together" ... Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy worked so well as a married couple not just because they were known to be an off-screen pair, but because, as Basinger explains, they “generated a sense of incompatibility, competition, class difference and underlying tension.” Beyond attraction, there was respect: each saw the other as the most interesting person in the room.. nyt.


Sui sogni nei romanzi

Francine Prose parla dei sogni nei romanzi in un bel saggio sul blog della New York Review of Books. "The most sustained and artful literary recreations of the dream state I know occur in Bruno Schulz’s stories, especially in “Sanitorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass, ” which, in Celina Wienewska’s elegant translation, unfolds in the present tense and in the straightforward tone of someone describing a dream on the psychoanalyst’s couch or at the breakfast table. Consider this summary of the story’s opening sections: Joseph, the narrator, sets out on a long, halting, and peculiar train journey, then arrives in a desolate landscape and finally at the sanitorium, where he has booked a room. He is eyeing the cakes in the restaurant when he is called to see the doctor. It turns out that Joseph has come to see his father. But there is some uncertainty, as there so often is in dreams, about whether his father is living or dead. Joseph’s father is dead, the doctor says, but not to worry, all of the sanitorium patients are also dead, and none of them know it". nybooks. (Nella foto un disegno di Bruno Schulz)


The Bully Problem

Del bullismo parla un nuovo libro di Emily Bazelon (giornalista di Slate e ricercatrice alla Yale Law School), Sticks and Stones (Random House). Andrew Solomon dice, "If charity begins at home, then so, too, does brutality: at home and early, and Bazelon looks for the seeds of troubling behavior in the home lives of bullies". nyt.


How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia è il nuovo romanzo di Mohsin Hamid (Riverhead), e pare sia uno dei grandi romanzi scritti in seconda persona (quali sono gli altri?). O anche il nuovo Grande Gatsby. "... is narrated as though it were a self-help book: it is written in the second person, and follows a protagonist who is never referred to as anything but “you.” In questo articolo del New Yorker sono segnalate anche altri nuovi libri in uscita a marzo. newyorker.


Il primo romanzo scritto con un word processor

Would best-selling novelist Len Deighton care to take a walk? It was 1968, and the IBM technician who serviced Deighton’s typewriters had just heard from Deighton’s personal assistant, Ms. Ellenor Handley, that she had been retyping chapter drafts for his book in progress dozens of times over. IBM had a machine that could help, the technician mentioned. They were being used in the new ultramodern Shell Centre on the south bank of the Thames, not far from his Merrick Square home.
A few weeks later, Deighton stood outside his Georgian terrace home and watched as workers removed a window so that a 200-pound unit could be hoisted inside with a crane. The machine was IBM’s MTST (Magnetic Tape Selectric Typewriter), sold in the European market as the MT72. “Standing in the leafy square in which I lived, watching all this activity, I had a moment of doubt,” the author, now 84, told me in a recent email. “I was beginning to think that I had chosen a rather unusual way to write books.” Matthew Kirschenbaum su slate
Nella foto Len Deighton e il suo word processor IBM, Londra, 1968.


The book beside the book

La giovane critica Claire Barliant parla dell'importanza del "libro accanto a un altro libro" nelle ricerche accademiche. E quindi dell'importanza del libro cartaceo e delle biblioteche aperte. Ecco quel che dice Barliant, "A few months ago I was talking about research with a friend who is an academic. I told her I’d found a crucial text at the library: it was adjacent to the book I’d gone there to find. “Yes,” she concurred, “it’s never the book you want, it’s the book beside the book.” ... I’m sure some people think of browsing as an invitation to distraction, but I like to think of it an intellectual stroll. Some paths lead to meaningless cul-de-sacs, others to revelations". newyorker.


Lost New York

Di una New York perduta parla Cynthia Zarin - poetessa e autrice di un libro di saggi uscito di recente presso Knopf, An Enlarged Heart - in un'intervista.
Q. In a few essays, particularly in “Restaurants,” there’s an elegiac sense of what disappears from New York over time. Having lived here a long time, is there a particular closed-up place you miss the most?
A. The other day I was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and I found myself thinking about the pool in the cafeteria. It was made of green marble, I think, and when I was a child we used to throw pennies into it — that’s a real loss; it was magic: a lagoon in the center of the museum! And the Éclair Bakery on West 86th Street; in my twenties, when I was feeling blue, I used to walk over there and eat — what else? — éclairs. Isaac Bashevis Singer lived down the block and I often saw him there. And Zito’s on Bleecker Street — I was there on the day they closed and I asked if I could have the bread board and Zito said, “what do you want that for?,” and I have it in my kitchen. And Café des Artistes, and the old movie theaters, the Thalia and The New Yorker, which was like walking down into a nautilus … nyt.



Laura Dern
Enlightened è una serie televisiva americana ideata da Laura Dern - che è anche l'interprete della protagonista - e Mike White. Francine Prose ne parla in questi termini: "Compared to flashier series such as Girls and Homeland, Enlightened, now finishing its second season, has been slow to find its audience. People complain—understandably—that the show makes them anxious, and few viewers may want to admit to having anything in common with a forty-year-old, divorced, basement-level coporate worker, living at home with Mom. But what’s most surprising about Enlightened is the intensity with which Amy and her friends get to us, how much of ourselves we may see in them, if we only have the temerity to allow it.
Amy is a tightly wound, rubber-band ball of contradictions: she’s determined but self-sabotaging, perceptive but solipsistic, generous but self-involved. She’s not stupid, but she is goofy and naive. It’s rare to see someone so deeply conflicted and ambiguous on TV, or even in contemporary film; a character plagued by so many warring impulses is more likely to be diagnosed (like Carrie Mathison, the heroine of Showtime’s Homeland) as bipolar. But Enlightened makes you conscious of how many people like Amy you know". nybooks.


"Biker" sull'Oxford English Dictionary

L'Oxford English Dictionary aveva dato la seguente definizione di "biker": "A motorcyclist, especially one who is a member of a gang: a long-haired biker in dirty denims". I motociclisti si sono indignati, sostenendo che si trattava di una descrizione obsoleta, e il dizionario ha modificato la voce in questo modo: "A motorcyclist, especially one who is a member of a gang or group: a biker was involved in a collision with a car." telegraph