Gli aggiornamenti riprenderanno a metà gennaio 2015


Un appartamento a NY

Ho scelto questo post per la foto. E per l'argomento: gli appartamenti di Manhattan. "And yet apartments nevertheless share certain qualities with stage sets—each room, even a bathroom, is a scenario into which people exit and enter. The sense of performance and audience—and, by extension, voyeurism—is built into the landscape. To glance at the façade of an apartment building, especially at night, when the windows are a crossword puzzle of light and dark boxes, is to be reminded that there may be someone looking back at you. This tension—between the apartment as a redoubt and source of privacy and as a place of performance, where privacy is relentlessly invaded—is further amplified by the fact that apartment buildings are filled with spaces that are public and yet, in some ways, especially private, because you never expect to see someone there: places like the laundry room, the storage room, the roof, or the backstairs". Thomas Beller, newyorker.


Several years later, I noticed a disturbing pattern: many of the things I wrote about in my first three novels later came true in my life. For example, in my first novel, I wrote about a character getting a fatal brain tumor, and soon afterward, one of my best friends got a brain tumor and eventually died. I almost felt as though I had caused this tragedy by simply writing about it. In my second novel, my main character falls in love with a weather scientist who looks like Jon Bon Jovi. They have a strange and tumultuous relationship. Not long afterward, I was at a literary party and in came a man who looked like Jon Bon Jovi. I introduced myself. He was an astrophysicist. We had a passionate but stormy romantic relationship for a year. And in my third novel, the main character suffers from an ailment I’d never experienced nor heard of and thought I’d made up: she finds herself, to a painful degree, wanting nothing; she has lost her desire for all things. Soon after, the same disorder befell me—turns out it’s a symptom of depression, called anhedonia.
None of my novels had been autobiographical, but after writing them, I was starting to feel that while I wasn’t writing from life; life was writing from me. Amanda Filipacchi sul newyorker.

Anche a me è successo.



"Wikipedia is amazing. But it’s become a rancorous, sexist, elitist, stupidly bureaucratic mess" dice il sottotilo di un'attenta analisi dell'enciclopedia online. "Unlike pretty much every other website of note, Wikipedia really is an experiment in controlled anarchy, and its strengths and weaknesses stem largely from the fact that there is no central authority with its hand on the tiller". David Auerbach, slate.


Verrua Savoia sul NYT

Qualche giorno fa il NYT ha dedicato un lungo articolo a Verrua Savoia, il villaggio piemontese (provincia di Torino) più cablato d'Italia.
"After all, roughly a third of Italians have never used the Internet, giving the country one of the lowest rates of usage in Europe. Residents can recall providers laughing over the phone at their request for an Internet hookup, or the perplexed look of technicians upon arriving in Verrua Savoia, where just 1,500 residents live in dozens of small settlements spread over nearly 20 miles of valleys and steep hillsides in northern Italy.
Even so, some here believed they had the right to join the digital world, to pay their bills, do their banking or make a doctor’s appointment online.
One was Daniele Trinchero, a professor at the nearby Polytechnic University of Turin, who helped set up a nonprofit association that started last week and that offers fellow citizens what both the state and telecommunications companies have so far failed to deliver. The group may be the first of its kind in Italy". Gaia Pianigiani, nyt.


Una lezione di stile

Alfred Bendiner: Sweet Innocence, 1936
For some time, I’d wanted to teach these two texts, both of which I’d long admired: the opening twenty-five pages of Rebecca West’s Greenhouse with Cyclamens I (1946), an excerpt from the first section of her lengthy report on the Nuremberg trials; and William Finnegan’s 1994 account of a trial in Manhattan in which he sat on the jury. Both had appeared in The New Yorker. It was partly a coincidence that we were reading them when so much national attention was focused on the Brown and Garner cases. ...
I’d thought it would be fun and interesting to teach these essays in a course on literary style, as a very general lesson about how two different styles can be used to portray a similar setting: in the texts in question, courtrooms in which cases of vastly unequal magnitude were being tried. Francine Prose, nybooks


Colonel Harland Sanders

Colonel Harland Sanders, the fried-chicken magnate, who seems in public to be as jolly and serene as Santa Claus, is actually one of the world’s foremost worriers,” William Whitworth wrote in The New Yorker in 1970. “The Colonel maintains a vigilant fretfulness in the face of overwhelming good fortune. He has won money, fame, and the affection of his fellow-citizens”—and yet, all the same, he is “haunted by the fear that someone, somewhere, is doing something to hurt his chicken.” Such is the life of the businessperson. The competition never ends. Success leads to fear. Then, ideally, fear leads to invention". 

Dura è la vita di Colonel Harland Sanders ... e dei suoi polli.

Il New Yorker propone dei vecchi articoli su businessmen. newyorker.



Devo ammetterlo, ho scelto questo articolo per via della parola important-itis. Come potremmo tradurla in italiano? Perché mi sembra urgente introdurla. Qui questa malattia viene attribuita a Leonard Bernstein da Stephen Sondheim, lo sceneggiatore di West Side Story, che una volta disse, ‘Lenny had a bad case of important-itis.’  Christopher Bray, spectator.

By the way, è uscita una biografia di Bernstein, Leonard Bernstein di Allen Shawn (Yale).


L'evoluzione dell'inferno

"Hell has changed a lot over the years. The Old Testament refers exclusively to sheol, the traditional Hebrew underworld, a place of stillness in which both the righteous and the unrighteous wander in shadows. There’s no fiery torment, no wailing or gnashing of teeth. In the New Testament, several writers refer to this place under its Greek name, hades. There’s also a number of passages about Gehenna, literally “the Valley of Hinnom”, which was a real area outside Jerusalem that served as the city dump. Fires burned there constantly, to incinerate the garbage; it was also a place where the bodies of criminals were burned. The Jewish rabbinical tradition envisioned Gehenna as a purgatorial place of atonement for the ungodly. Another Greek term, tartarus, appears only once, when the author of 1 Peter writes about the angel rebellion that took place before the creation of the world. ...
Like so many formerly oppositional institutions, the church is now becoming a symptom of the culture rather than an antidote to it, giving us one less place to turn for a sober counter-narrative to the simplistic story of moral progress that stretches from Silicon Valley to Madison Avenue. Hell may be an elastic concept, as varied as the thousands of malevolencies it has described throughout history, but it remains our most resilient metaphor for the evil both around and within us". 


Campus Novels

Un genere che mi appassiona, non solo perché mi ricorda anni molto divertenti passati in diversi campus degli USA come studentessa e come prof., ma anche perché il campus rappresenta un microcosmo adattissimo alla creazione di storie, un villaggio protetto e privilegiato abitato da gente interessante, vitale e molto disposta a intrecciare ogni genere di rapporto reciproco. 
Un articolo raccoglie la voce di cinque prof. di letteratura che analizzano cinque campus novels: "Former Wellesley College and Cornell University lecturer Vladimir Nabokov is cited twice, for two different books, while ex-University of Sydney, University of Cambridge and Wolverhampton Polytechnic academic Howard Jacobson also figures prominently". timeshighereducation.


The Forever Professors

Il sottotitolo dice: "Academics who don’t retire are greedy, selfish, and bad for students". Anche in America il corpo docenti sta invecchiando. In America i professori non hanno limiti d'età per andare in pensione e di solito tendono a continuare a insegnare fino a tarda età. Secondo Laurie Fendrich, prof. emerita di arte a Hofstra University questo è un gran problema:

"The average age for all tenured professors nationwide is now approaching 55 and creeping upward; the number of professors 65 and older more than doubled between 2000 and 2011. In spite of those numbers, according to a Fidelity Investments study conducted about a year ago, three-quarters of professors between 49 and 67 say they will either delay retirement past age 65 or—gasp!—never retire at all. They ignore, or are oblivious to, the larger implications for their students, their departments, and their colleges". chronicleofhighereducation.


La storia delle password

Le password dicono molto di noi, creano problemi e li risolvono, sono sbarramenti o porte di accesso a mondi segreti. Possono avviare storie... come questa: "Howard Lutnick, the chief executive of Cantor Fitzgerald, one of the world’s largest financial-services firms, still cries when he talks about it. Not long after the planes struck the twin towers, killing 658 of his co-workers and friends, including his brother, one of the first things on Lutnick’s mind was passwords. This may seem callous, but it was not ...". Ian Urbina, newyorktimesmagazine.


When Did the Art World Get So Conservative?

Un titolo interessante, che pone una domanda che anch'io mi sono chiesta molte volte (in Italia il clima intellettuale è particolarmente soffocante). Vale la pena leggere l'articolo del critico d'arte newyorkese Jerry Saltz.
"First and foremost, the art world is a place that says it wants people to be free. This extraordinary openness is what gives art its ever-changing adaptable agency. Or gave.
Flexibility is life, but lately I keep thinking that the art world has gotten a lot less flexible, and the freedom that I've always thought of as completely foundational — freedom to let our freak flags fly and express ourselves, even bizarrely — has constricted considerably. And it’s happening at such mutated and extreme rates that we must ask if the art world is not now one of the more self-policing areas of contemporary culture. How did we come to live in an insular tribal sphere where unwritten rules and rigid moralities — about whom to like and dislike, what is permissible to say and what must remain unsaid — are strictly enforced via social media and online disapproval, much of it anonymous? When did this band of gypsies and relentless radicals get so conservative?" volture.


La Moby Dick Marathon

La "Moby Dick Marathon" si è tenuta dal 14 al 16 novembre in vari locali di Manhattan dove scrittori e non hanno letto l'intero romanzo di Melville. A Joshua Ferris è toccato leggere un punto particolarmente ostico. "The novelist Joshua Ferris was standing in the basement of the Ace Hotel in Midtown on Friday night, looking frustrated. He had just read ten minutes of “Moby-Dick” to a crowd of more than a hundred devotees. He was pretty sure he hadn’t nailed his passage. “I was confronted with a shit-ton of tribal names!” Ferris said. He opened his copy of the book and pointed to the passage, which read: “But, besides the Feegeeans, Tongatobooarrs, Erromanggoans, Pannangians, and Brighggians, and, besides the wild specimens of the whaling-craft which unheeded reel about the streets, you will see other sights still more curious, certainly more comical.” He shook his head. “That word has three ‘g’ ’s in it and only three consonants! And this one has four ‘e’ ’s in it.” newyorker.


Internet of Things

Jeremy Rifkin, The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism (Palgrave Macmillan)

David Rose, Enchanted Objects: Design, Human Desire, and the Internet of Things (Scribner)

Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy (Patrick Brewster)

Jim Dwyer, More Awesome Than Money: Four Boys and Their Heroic Quest to Save Your Privacy from Facebook (Viking)

Strano non ci sia Morozov. Comunque, se volete saperne di più sull'argomento, leggetevi Sue Halpern,  nybooks.


Elogio del pettegolezzo

Social topics—personal relationships, likes and dislikes, anecdotes about social activities—made up about two-thirds of all conversations in analyses done by evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar. The remaining one-third of their time not spent talking about other people was devoted to discussing everything else: sports, music, politics, etc.
“Language in freely forming natural conversations is principally used for the exchange of social information,” Dunbar writes. “That such topics are so overwhelmingly important to us suggests that this is a primary function of language.” He even goes so far as to say: “Gossip is what makes human society as we know it possible.”  Julie Beck, theatlantic.


First Editions/Second Thoughts

PEN America has launched a new website for First Editions/Second Thoughts, for which seventy-five authors and artists personally annotated their own books. Highlights include Philip Roth’s American Pastoral, Angela Davis’s If They Come in the Morning, John Ashbery’s The Tennis Court Oath, Robert Caro’s The Power Broker, Don DeLillo’s Underworld, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and Ed Ruscha’s Past Stuff. Some of the handwritten annotations are quite elaborate, such as the ones on the TOC page of George Saunders’s Civilwarland in Bad Decline, which incorporates footnotes and various colors of ink. The works will be auctioned at Christie’s on December 2.


Richard Ford parla del suo nuovo libro

Richard Ford parla del suo nuovo libro, Let Me Be Frank with You (Ecco) con Deborah Treisman. 

Eight years ago, you thought “The Lay of the Land” would be the final book in the Frank Bascombe series. What do you think has made you go back to Frank again (and again)?
A number of forces were acting on me. First, of course, was the force that Thoreau was referring to when he said that a writer is someone with nothing to do who finds something to do. I qualified, as I mostly have for years. Second was that during the promotional tour for my last novel, “Canada,” a surprising number of people who showed up to have books signed said, quite touchingly (to me), that they wished I’d write another Frank Bascombe book. Now, neither of these things ought to compel anybody to write a book, and they probably didn’t. But they affected me.

What did compel me was Hurricane Sandy. My wife, Kristina, and I were in New York when the storm came along, though we didn’t suffer. Afterward, we drove down to the Jersey Shore—the scene of many Bascombe episodes—and I was so affected by the storm’s destruction of human life and expectancy. I drove home that day with sentences skirling in my head—sentences that I recognized as Frank Bascombe sentences. Neruda said of the instigating experience of a piece of imaginative writing, “Something kicked in my soul.” And, although I don’t believe in souls, I do believe in something kicking somewhere that becomes a call to language. That happened to me. And what that kicking was about, I decided, was a curiosity regarding the effects of the storm on peoples’ lives—effects that the broadcast media wouldn’t uncover. And that’s what I set out to do with these four stories. Emerson said that “nature does not like to be observed.” I thought that the imagination—mine, in this case—could perhaps do some observing of what otherwise wouldn’t be noticed. newyorker.


Philip Roth rilegge Portnoy's Complaint

Rereading “Portnoy’s Complaint” 45 years on, I am shocked and pleased: shocked that I could have been so reckless, pleased that I was so reckless. I certainly didn’t understand while at work that henceforth I was never to be free of this psychoanalytic patient I was calling Alexander Portnoy — indeed, that I was on the brink of swapping my identity for his and that, subsequently, in many minds, his persona and all its paraphernalia would be understood to be mine and that my relations with people known and unknown would shift accordingly. Philip Roth, nytimesmagazine.


Letters to Véra

Letters to Véra è una raccolta di lettere di Vladimir Nabokov alla moglie da poco sposata e ricoverata in una casa di cura nella Foresta Nera per un esaurimento nervoso. Sono tradotte dal russo da Olga Voronina e Brian Boyd e sono uscite presso Penguin Classics. Contengono delle bellissime descrizioni del paesaggio, del tempo, di animali. “The weather this morning was soso: dullish, but warm, a boiled milk sky, with skin – but if you pushed it aside with a teaspoon, the sun was really nice, so I wore my white trousers”. Eric Naiman, tls.


La storia dello slang

Jonathon Green, The Vulgar Tongue: Green's History of Slang (Oxford UP), "But what counts as slang? Where does it come from? And why does it exert such a powerful hold on the middle--class imagination? Jonathon Green sets out to answer these questions in the course of charting the development of slang as it is recorded in literature, from medieval beggar-books to World War II soldiers’ pornography". Sara Lodge, weeklystandard.


Primum Non Nocere

Deborah Treisman intervista Antonya Nelson sul suo ultimo - bel - racconto per il New Yorker.
Your story in this week’s issue, “Primum Non Nocere,” is about the teen-age daughter of a therapist, who is surprised at home by one of her mother’s former patients. Why throw these two characters—the disgruntled “borderline” and the vulnerable adolescent—together? 

The teen-ager, Jewel, is at her own “borderline”—of burgeoning adulthood—and the fact that she’s ready to transform, willingly or not, makes her ripe for exposure. Her transformation is less dramatic than her brother’s was, which also means that it’s more surprising—to her, and probably to her parents. I like the way that psychological extremity can illuminate more “normal” characters by forcing a comparison. How is adolescence a borderline experience? To be poised between worlds, to be “teetering” and vulnerable to forces beyond one’s control? The two characters seem, to me, complementary. newyorker.


We tell ourselves stories in order to live

We tell ourselves stories in order to live” is one of Joan Didion’s most resonant lines and it is now also the name of a documentary in progress about her life. The movie is being made by her nephew, Griffin Dunne, the longtime actor and filmmaker, together with the documentarian Susanne Rostock. Dunne began filming his aunt Joan a few years ago, when he made the short for her latest book, Blue Nights. Fortunately for us he kept on filming. Today Dunne is releasing a trailer for the documentary on Vogue.com, above, to coincide with the launch of a Kickstarter campaign to help complete the project. Abby Aguirre, vogue.



Bitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor, With Recipes di Jennifer McLagan (Ten Speed Press) un libro di cucina che celebra quel che sembra la nuova moda in cucin in America, l'amore per quel che è amaro. "But this is a peculiar moment in American culinary life. We no longer flee from the taste of bitter. We fête it: hop-fueled beers, single-origin coffees, intensely dark chocolates, imported amaros, foraged wild greens. These are not peripheral tastes in modern America. They’re the tastes that people who get excited about food and drink are apt to get most excited about. The modern American food movement is bitter at its core". Nicholas Day, slate.


Being Mortal

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (Metropolitan), l'ultimo libro Atul Gawande - un medico che scrive per il New Yorker e si occupa di problemi di medicina sempre molto interessanti - qui parla di come in America si affronta la vecchiaia - quella estrema. "Gawande begins by contrasting the final years of his wife’s grandmother in America with those of his own grandfather in India. These two stories illustrate the central paradox that runs throughout “Being Mortal”: Sophisticated medical care does not guarantee and often actually prevents a good end of life. His wife’s grandmother, living in a country where old age is treated as a medical problem and independence is often overvalued, spent a lot of time in hospitals or home alone. Gawande’s grandfather lived on his beloved farm, surrounded by family until his death". Suzanne Koven, bostonglobe.


Fire Shut Up in My Bones

Charles Blow è il visual op-ed columnist del The New York Times. E' stato lui a ideare questa nuova forma di giornalismo. Fire Shut Up in My Bones (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) è la sua autobiografia e sembra molto interessante. Blow ha infatti un background piuttosto complesso.
"Charles Blow was only 24 when he was asked by The New York Times to direct its graphics department — apparently the youngest department head in the paper’s history. His elegant charts, distillations of political and social complexity, jolted readers with their logic, lucidity and sheer beauty. Before long, he ascended yet again, reinventing himself — and configuring a new genre of journalism — as the paper’s “visual Op-Ed columnist.”
Now Blow has written a complex bildungsroman of a memoir. “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” begins with the author’s childhood as the youngest son within a turbulent yet essentially loving household in the small, segregated town of Gibs­land, La". Patricia J. Williams, nytbooks.

(Nella foto: Charles Blow, con la camicia rossa, e i fratelli)


Haruki Murakami's "Sherazade"

Sempre belle - molto - le storie di Haruki Murakami, come l'ultima apparsa sul New Yorker e intitolata "Sherazade". Parla di un uomo - Habara - costretto a stare in casa e di una donna che va a trovarlo, fa l'amore con lui e gli racconta delle storie. Sono le storie della donna che l'uomo attende con particolare piacere. 

Deborah Treisman intervista Murakami: We never learn, in the story, why Habara can’t leave the house. Do you know?
Sorry, but I don’t know the exact circumstances that brought about the situation, either. Of course, I have a few ideas about what might be the cause, but I expect my readers do as well. I’m not trying to make a big secret out of it—in fact, I think if you took their hypotheses and mine and stacked them on top of each other you’d have an important form of author-reader communication. Because what’s important isn’t what caused Habara’s situation but, rather, how we ourselves would act in similar circumstances. newyorker.



I computer riusciranno a scrivere un romanzo? Diventeranno dei computhors? Finalmente una scrittrice che non si piange addosso e non celebra i bei tempi andati.
"Nostalgia, not the internet, is killing literature. Even if the surfing and grazing and browsing we do online have ruined us for anything longer than a blog post – and I’m not convinced that sustained attention is altogether a lost cause – the cure does not lie in longing for some half- invented time when serious people lost themselves in novels.
We need to move beyond the fear that the digital era will destroy the serious business of books". Jennifer Howard, tls.


Intellectual cowardice

Ricomincio con grande ritardo e poca convinzione. I miei post saranno, d'ora in poi, più degli appunti, visto che comunque la stampa estera la devo sfogliare e che comunque - nonostante il panarama generale sia piuttosto piatto - qualcosa di curioso salta sempre fuori. Come quest'articolo sulla vigliaccheria degli accademici.
"Timidity may be especially characteristic of the scholar. As Peter Elbow notes in his essay “Being a writer vs. being an academic: a conflict in goals”, the writer comes to the reader exclaiming, “Listen to me, I have something to tell you!”, while the academic asks meekly, “Is this okay?”. The bespectacled professor citing great thinkers, hedging with “perhapses” and “I would suggests”, and lining the bottom of the page with footnotes to pad against a hard fall: he makes a fine figure of a coward". Chris Walsh (acting director of the College of Arts and Sciences’ writing programme at Boston University), timeshighereducation.



Vado in vacanza. Riprenderò a pubblicare i miei post su novità varie nel mondo dei libri in USA, e nel mondo anglofono in generale, all'inizio di settembre.

Buone vacanze a tutti!


Nuovi libri sulla matematica

Nuovi libri sulla matematica di Jordan Ellenberg, David J. Hand, Michael Blastland e David Spiegelhalter, Amir Alexander, e Alex Bellos. "Every math teacher cringes at the inevitable question from students: “When am I ever going to use this?” Ellenberg, a math professor at the University of Wisconsin, admits that even though we’ll never need to compute long lists of integrals in our daily lives, we still need math. It’s “a science of not being wrong about things,” he writes, and it gives us tools to enhance our reasoning, which is prone to false assumptions and cognitive biases". nytbooks.


Avoid the Ivy League

William Deresiewicz consiglia di evitare le Ivy League e sull'argomento ha scritto un libro che uscirà ad agosto, Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and The Way to a Meaningful Life (Free Press). "I taught many wonderful young people during my years in the Ivy Leaguebright, thoughtful, creative kids whom it was a pleasure to talk with and learn from. But most of them seemed content to color within the lines that their education had marked out for them. Very few were passionate about ideas. Very few saw college as part of a larger project of intellectual discovery and development. Everyone dressed as if they were ready to be interviewed at a moment’s notice.
Look beneath the façade of seamless well-adjustment, and what you often find are toxic levels of fear, anxiety, and depression, of emptiness and aimlessness and isolation. A large-scale survey of college freshmen recently found that self-reports of emotional well-being have fallen to their lowest level in the study’s 25-year history". newrepublic.


Il piacere della risata

Una bella risata, c'è poco di più piacevole. Eppure la risata pare sia ancora un mistero. Ne parla Mary Beard, prof. di Classics all'University of Cambridge e autrice del libro Laughter in Ancient Rome: On Joking, Tickling, and Cracking Up (University of California Press). "The pleasure and excitement of studying laughter, for a historian, is that it generates many more questions than answers. Theories of laughter have always been "theories of theories," a way of talking about laughter and "something else." Recent neurological advances in understanding which bits of the brain generate laughter (and how) are, of course, important, and not to be dismissed by decidedly nonexperimental historians.
But in historical terms, culture almost always trumps nature. Laughter has been a key marker of what we feel about other cultures, about our own past and our views of the "progress of civilization." chronicle.


Freaky Friday

Freaky Friday è il titolo di un libro del 1972 di Mary Rodgers Guettel, scrittrice e compositrice inglese morta il mese scorso a 83 anni. In italiano si intitola A ciascuno il suo corpo, ma non si trova più. Sembra carino. "Mary Rodgers Guettel, who died at the end of June, was not a household name like her father, the composer Richard Rodgers, but she had legions of fans—among them her lifelong friend Stephen Sondheim; Leonard Bernstein; the legendary children’s-book editor Ursula Nordstrom; Juilliard students, who chanted her name affectionately when she addressed them, as the chair of the school’s board in recent years; and a great many children. Rodgers published “Freaky Friday,” her freewheeling mother-daughter body-switch novel, in 1972, and followed it with two enjoyable sequels, “A Billion for Boris” and “Summer Switch.” Sarah Larson, newyorker.


Libri che fanno piangere

Un interessante articolo su quali sono i libri che fanno piangere, e come e perché. Pelagia Horgan, "Tears have had a surprisingly prominent place in the history of the novel. Readers have always asked about the role that emotion plays in reading: What does it mean to be deeply moved by a book? Which books are worthy objects of our feelings? In different eras, people answered those questions in different ways". newyorker.


Privacy secondo Virginia Woolf

Joshua Rothman discute della privacy e soprattutto di quel che significava per Virginia Woolf, "Woolf often conceives of life this way: as a gift that you’ve been given, which you must hold onto and treasure but never open. Opening it would dispel the atmosphere, ruin the radiance—and the radiance of life is what makes it worth living. It’s hard to say just what holding onto life without looking at it might mean; that’s one of the puzzles of her books. But it has something to do with preserving life’s mystery; with leaving certain things undescribed, unspecified, and unknown; with savoring certain emotions, such as curiosity, surprise, desire, and anticipation. It depends on an intensified sense of life’s preciousness and fragility, and on a Heisenberg-like notion that, when it comes to our most abstract and spiritual intuitions, looking too closely changes what we feel. It has to do, in other words, with a kind of inner privacy, by means of which you shield yourself not just from others’ prying eyes, but from your own. Call it an artist’s sense of privacy". newyorker.


The Children of Silicon Valley

Robert Pogue Harrison, prof. di letteratura a Stanfod, sulla Silicon Valley, "In truth Silicon Valley does not change the world as much as it changes my way of being in it, or better, of not being in it. It changes the way I think, the way I emote, and the way I interact with others. It corrodes the worldly core of my humanity, leaving me increasingly worldless. (I do not consider the Internet’s Borg collective, with its endless drone of voices, a world, any more than I consider social media a human society; those who do not see the difference have already been assimilated.). nybooks.


The Last Literary Taboos

Questo è il tema discusso da due scrittori questa settimana sul New York Times. Gli scrittori sono Francine Prose e James Parker. Francine Prose, "One hears about manuscripts turned down for being too this, too that, too dark, too cerebral, too unsympathetic, too strange; about editors rejecting books that kept them awake all night reading — but in the cold light of morning, they couldn’t convince their colleagues that an audience for such a book existed". nyt.


Life at 60

My generation, the postwar baby-boomers, are over the meridian of our vital parabolas. We’ve done our best and our worst, overachieved and underperformed, are either preparing to bask on the sun loungers of our success or suck our bruised fingers in the waiting rooms of failure. So 60 is both a personal summit from which to look back, breathing heavily, hands on my knees, and a generational one. ... 
How do I feel having reached 60? Well, surprised, mostly. And grateful. When I was 30, a doctor told me that I had a dangerously damaged liver and, all things considered, I probably wouldn’t see another Christmas. I am an alcoholic and a drug addict but, with a lot of help, I stopped. I haven’t had a drink or picked up a drug since. AA Gill (nella foto con il padre) e i suoi primi sessant'anni. thesundaytimes.


The Apthorp

The Apthorp è un palazzo nel West Side di Manhattan. Per un periodo ci ha vissuto Nora Ephron, che l'ha meravigliosamente (come suo solito) descritto in un racconto sul New Yorker, "Moving On". Nora Ephron è morta due anni fa e il New Yorker la ricorda, riproponendo questo racconto. new yorker.


Libri in uscita a luglio

“Preparing the Ghost: An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and Its First Photographer” (Liveright), by Matthew Gavin Frank, out July 7th. This strange, innovative book-length essay is, like the squid that serves as its emblematic center, slippery and many-armed. 

Questo e altri i libri in uscita a luglio, newyorker.


Apple Cake

"Apple Cake" è il titolo del racconto di Allegra Goodman uscito sull'ultimo numero del New Yorker. Si svolge intorno al letto di Jeanne morente e ha una delle più belle scene di morte che abbia letto, "She wanted to open her eyes, to rise up from her bed. She wanted music and she wanted apples. She wanted to touch the sandy beach, to feel summer's heat. She wanted all this, but she couldn't have it. She died because she couldn't breathe". 

In un'intervista Goodman fa anche una considerazione molto interessante tra letteratura e cibo, "My mother Madeleine’s rugelach were unbelievable. I could not use them here because they would have upstaged everything and everyone else. Apple cake is food for a short story. Rugelach require a novel". I rugelach sono dei dolci ebraici, delle specie di croissant (v. foto). newyorker.


Trigger Warning

Un altro attacco della political correctness ... alla letteratura, naturalmente. "Colleges across the country this spring have been wrestling with student requests for what are known as “trigger warnings,” explicit alerts that the material they are about to read or see in a classroom might upset them or, as some students assert, cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in victims of rape or in war veterans. ... At Oberlin College [nella foto] in Ohio, a draft guide was circulated that would have asked professors to put trigger warnings in their syllabuses. The guide said they should flag anything that might “disrupt a student’s learning” and “cause trauma,” including anything that would suggest the inferiority of anyone who is transgender (a form of discrimination known as cissexism) or who uses a wheelchair (or ableism). nyt.


Leavitt on Leavitt

Leavitt parla di sé e dei libri che legge:
What books are currently on your night stand?
Dorothy L. Sayers’s “Gaudy Night,” Georges Simenon’s “The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien” and Gretchen Rubin’s “Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill.”
Who is your favorite novelist of all time? And your favorite novelist writing today?
Penelope Fitzgerald. “The Beginning of Spring,” “The Gate of Angels” and “The Blue Flower” are novels I return to again and again, with joy and awe.
Among writers working today, I have the greatest admiration for Norman Rush. I also admire John Weir, who deserves to be far better known than he is. And I was floored by Edward St. Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose novels. nyt.


Translating Proust

Yale UP ripropone l'opera di Marcel Proust, che compie 100 anni. E' da poco uscito Swann's Way, nella traduzione degli anni '30 di C. K. Scott Moncrieff, ma con note aggiornate di William C. Carte. Una traduzione bella, ma controversa. Ne parla Leland de la Durantaye (una bella lezione di traduzione):
"The translation Moncrieff produced was a masterpiece. That said, it was not without its share of controversial choices—beginning with the very title. Faced with the formidable challenge of rendering the supple À la recherche du temps perdu, with its final words meaning both lost and wasted time, Moncrieff decided simply to rename the book. The title Remembrance of Things Past was one he took, as more than a few authors of the period were inspired to do, from Shakespeare. (William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury is from 1929, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World from 1932.) Moncrieff renamed Proust’s work after Shakespeare’s Sonnet 30 (nowhere referred to in Proust’s novel), going so far as to add Shakespeare’s lines as an epigraph. In a letter written from his deathbed, Proust thanked Moncrieff for his efforts but took issue with the title, pointing to the lost register of lost time—the past the narrator is trying, through the magic of memory, to recover". bostonreview.


Becoming Freud

E' uscita una nuova biografia di Freud, Becoming Freud: The Making of a Psychoanalyst, di Adam Phillips (Yale UP). Ce la presenta, di nuovo, Joshua Rothman, "Becoming Freud, by the British psychoanalyst Adam Phillips, is short for a biography—less than two hundred pages—and it contains no startling revelations. But, in its own way, it’s an audacious book. It’s a revisionist history of Freud and his enterprise; its implicit goal, never stated but always clear, is to help us salvage the best parts of Freud’s work while leaving behind the rest—the outmoded theories and unwieldy jargon that make Freud a caricature rather than an intriguing thinker. (Whether that’s a worthy goal is an open question.)"

Poi Rothman continua, in modo un po' inquietante (e ci fa venir voglia di leggere il libro), "Phillips is probably today’s most famous psychoanalyst, and a quietly controversial figure. For seven years, he was the principal child psychologist at Charing Cross Hospital, in London. (He’s now in private practice.) Famously, he spends most of the week with his analysands and writes only on Wednesdays; somehow, on that schedule, he’s produced eighteen books. Phillips is obviously brilliant—John Banville has called him “an Emerson of our time”—and yet it’s never quite clear how seriously you should take his writing". newyorker.


Harvey's Dream

Una vecchia storia di Stephen King, "Harvey's Dream", adatta all'estate. La ripresenta Josua Rothman, "Like many stories in The New Yorker, “Harvey’s Dream” takes place in Connecticut. That said, Stephen King’s Connecticut is very different from John Cheever’s. As the story begins, Janet Stevens is in her kitchen, making hard-boiled eggs on “a summer morning in late June.” Her husband, Harvey, is also there—a sixty-something guy in a T-shirt and boxers, a little worse for wear. (“He looked like what the goons on ‘The Sopranos’ called a mope,” Janet thinks.) She’s ruminating about how well she sleeps in summertime, when, because of her allergies, she and Harvey sleep in separate beds. Then Harvey pipes up. He had a bad dream last night, he says; in fact, “I screamed myself awake.” He continues..." newyorker.


I nuovi scrittori di racconti

Il racconto, dopo essere stato dominato da Updike, i minimalisti, ecc. sta ora esprimendo toni e forme nuove. "... it’s been a thrill in the last five years or so to watch the revitalization of the genre by writers with more various and daring emotional aims. There was the shock of seeing Lydia Davis’ unprogrammatic shorts collected in a single volume, for instance, and one reason I think George SaundersTenth of December was embraced with such joy, in fact nearly relief, is because it was full of stories in which stuff actually happened (serial killers! lottery victories!), with a kind of tender irony cutting back against any resulting hazard of melodrama". 
Poi Charles Finch passa a parlare - molto bene - di questo scrittore, Stuart Dybek (nella foto), che non conosco neanche di nome e di cui FS&G sta pubblicando una serie di raccolte di racconti. slate.


Two Serious Ladies

Two Serious Ladies è il titolo del romanzo scandaloso di Jane Bowles, la moglie di Paul Bowles. Uscito originalmente nel 1943, parla della relazione di una donna borghese di mezz'età con una giovanissima prostituta a Colon, Panama. "The recent reissue of the novel by HarperCollins, the second since Bowles’s collected works were released in 1967, provides an occasion to revisit the underknown half of a famous couple—she was married to the considerably more prolific and ultimately more celebrated Paul Bowles. Hard drinking, hard living, and neurotic, the outlines of Jane’s exhaustingly dramatic persona very often overshadowed her art. At forty, while living in Tangier, she suffered a debilitating stroke that would send her into premature convalescence. She died sixteen years later, alone, in a Spanish convent. And yet her literary output, small but perfect, puts her on a stylistic planet all her own". Negar Azimi, newyorker.


Do Fathers Matter?

Do Fathers Matter? è il titolo di un libro di Paul Raeburn, giornalista scientifico e padre di cinque figli (FS&G). Il punto del libro sta tutto nella domanda del titolo, la cui risposta in parta è ovvia - se non ci fossero i padri non esisteremmo - in parte molto complicata. Per es. "Raeburn’s book aims to dispel this uncertainty about fathers’ roles in their children’s lives. It turns out, for example, that, just as the healthfulness and mental state of a pregnant mother can influence her child’s health and wellness, a father’s health at the time of conception can affect his children’s health: stressed-out fathers tend to produce more stressed-out children". Joshua Rothman, newyorker.