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There are several things I miss about living in Louisiana, one of them being its proximity to Mississippi and the strange wonder of the Ohr-OKeefe Museum of Art, the Frank Gehrydesigned pottery museum across the street from the Gulf in the south of the state. There resides a permanent collection of George Ohr, the Mad Potter of Biloxi, an artist who did strange and amazing things with form (some critics say he anticipated abstraction), wonderful and wonky things with color (see the shimmering multicolor glazes), and generally elevated mud into fine art. Lucky for melucky for all of us within spitting distance of West ChelseaKathy Butterlys ceramics are on display at James Cohan Gallery through October 20 (with an artist talk this Saturday). Citing Ohr as an influence, Butterly takes familiar formsshe starts by pouring clay into casts made from store-bought vesselsthen she smashes and smooshes them, layering on more clay, adding arms and antennae and other bits until shes crafted a different sort of delight. Note the nooks and crannies of her pieces, the piping and edging and little leaflike appendages that dress her human-scale ceramics. And the colors: I held my nose close to a piece that was bubble gum and seafoam and moss, with these little rivulets of Gatorade orangea swirl of glazes achieved by firing her creations again and again (sometimes upwards of thirty times). Pro tip: dont miss the nail polishits another way into the head of a master colorist. Emily Nemens
Inflatable pools, plastic flamingos, tea leaves, and trains: all these objects (and wait, theres more!) are packed into David Orrs debut poetry collection, Dangerous Household Items. With his trademark drollery and endlessly perceptive wit, Orr explores the more sinister aspects of suburban life. Abandoned tools are imbued with nefa...
In 1905, the Swedish female artist Hilma af Klint began cleansing herself, in preparation for a series of artworks that would be executed at the directives of someone named Amaliel. More than a century later, those paintings would force a rewriting of the history of abstraction. According to the notebooks the artist left behind, Amaliel was one of several guiding spirits who spoke to her from above (and within), instructing her and even leading her hand. During her lifetime, at the behest of the spirits, af Klint produced more than one thousand works, but they remained largely within the confines of her studio. Even though she toiled as a commercial artist, painting portraits and landscapes, she exhibited only a few of the abstract paintings and drawings she created. She worried that the world wasnt ready to see them, and when she died in a tram accident, in 1944, at the age of eighty-one, her will ordained that they not be shown for at least another twenty years.
Af Klint got her wishand then some. She remained unknown until 1986, when she was included in the show The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1985, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I first encountered her art at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin in 2013 as a traveling retrospective, which began at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. A number of her furtively made paintings were shown there for the first time, almost seventy years after her death. Now, finally, five years later, an American institution is holding the first major exhibition of af Klints work in the U.S. In Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future, opening October 12, the Guggenheim is presenting a hundred and seventy-five of her paintings and drawings, and seven of her notebooks.
Wassily Kandinsky has long been widely regarded as the forefather of abstraction, but a...
Still Life with Figs and Apples, Johann Matthias Wurzer, ca. 1810
It has been said of Anthony Trollope that as soon as he finished a novel, he turned to a fresh page and started on the next, and its tempting to think that Javier Maras enjoys a similarly unstoppable flow of invention. The Spanish author has published more than a dozen novelsone of which, Your Face Tomorrow, comprises three volumesplus a book of stories, countless translations, a work of literary biography, and a weekly column for El Pas. Because his digressive, intellectual, and liquid style is among the most consistent in contemporary literature, and because his fiction shares characters and thematic concerns, it sometimes seems as if Maras has been writing one very long book for his entire career. But in fact, as he told me in our recent conversation, his process of writing is far from preordained. I always feel as insecure as if it were the first book Id written, he said.
His most recent novel is Berta Isla, which will be published in an English translation by his longtime collaborator, Margaret Jull Costa, in the UK this fall and in the U.S. next spring. Partly narrated by its eponymous heroine, Berta Isla returns to the milieu of espionage from Your Face Tomorrow. Maras has a persistent fascination with those who renounce their lives in order to work in the shadowy wings. As in several of his recent novelsThe Infatuations and Thus Bad BeginsBerta Isla probes the nature of historical memory, asking what should be remembered, and what forgotten. Those questions are ultimately unanswerable, but as in the best of Marass fiction, its captivating to watch the minds of Berta Islas characters work them over.
I reached Maras by phone at home in Madrid on the eve of his sixty-seventh birthday. His characters can speak at length on virtually any topic, and while this is a literary effect he achieves painstakingly, its true that I had no difficulty in prompting him. Our conversation wandered from Brexit to Balzac, from his apartments balconies to the distant kingdom of Redonda, a barren island off the coast of Antigua that through a series of bizarre events (catalogued in his ...
Based on last months poll, you voted to combine two of the options into a single approach for our November 2018 Readathon. The winner is: Cozy Mystery Series. Many thanks to all the voters and promoters for the readathon. Im very excited to choose a series with 4 or 5 books that we can read all throughout November and post our reviews. Some of the suggestions may have more than 5, but we will only read the first 5. A few have less than 5, so we will just read 3 or 4 depending on what wins. Ive also chosen authors Ive never read before but have on my TBR.
You can choose your top 3 series to read. The poll is open today through 10/12 (one full week). On 10/13, Ill announce the book series with the most votes. Well have three weeks to buy or borrow the books and se...
Earlier this year, I had the privilege to read two fantastic books by Didi Oviatt. Im going to be reading a third sometime in the next three months, too, once its ready to launch. While this prolific and creative writer works on that next book, shes also signed on with a new publisher and has re-issued her earlier books its makeover time! And what gorgeous covers theyve come up with.
In todays post, Im sharing the new covers, new blurbs, some updated special scenes, and the links to get everything when its re-published this month. If youve missed out in the past, nows your time to jump on the bandwagon because once it gets rolling, you might not catch up! Heres a link to her dedicated author page on my blog very few have earned this spot but shes definitely one of them!
Constitutions and Laws of the Royal Arcanum, Governing the Supreme, Grand and Subordinate councils, As Amended at the Third Annual Session of the Supreme Council, in Detroit, Mich., April 27th to May 3d, 1880 (Royal Arcanum) New Online Books
Constitutions and Laws of the Royal Arcanum, Governing the Supreme, Grand and Subordinate councils, As Amended at the Third Annual Session of the Supreme Council, in Detroit, Mich., April 27th to May 3d, 1880 (1880), by Royal Arcanum (page images at HathiTrust)
The Seasons (based on the 1847 second edition, with additions from other editions), by James Thomson, ed. by Bolton Corney, contrib. by Patrick Murdoch, John Aikin, and William Collins (illustrated HTML with commentary at fiftywordsforsnow.com)
A Survey of LGBT Americans: Attitudes, Experiences and Values in Changing Times (Washington: Pew Research Center, 2013), ed. by Paul Taylor (illustrated HTML and PDF with commenntary at pewsocialtrends.org)
The Ancestry and Posterity of John Lea, of Christian Malford, Wiltshire, England, and of Pennsylvania in America, 1503-1906 (Philadelphia and New York: Lea Bros. and Co., 1906), by J. Henry Lea and George Henry Lea (stable link)
The Boke of the Tales of Canterburie (title taken from text on the first page; London: R. Pynson, 1491), by Geoffrey Chaucer (multiple formats at archive.org)
Patterns of Change in 18th-Century English: A Sociolinguistic Approach (Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Pub. Co., c2018), ed. by Terttu Nevalainen, Minna Palander-Collin, and Tanja Sily (PDF and Epub with commentary at John Benjamins e-Platform)
The Habsburg Monarchy's Many-Languaged Soul: Translating and Interpreting, 1848-1918 (Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Pub. Co., c2015), by Michaela Wolf, trans. by Kate Sturge (PDF with commentary at John Benjamins e-Platform)
Tales from the Trobriand Islands of Papua New Guinea: Psycholinguistic and Anthropological Linguistic Analyses of Tales Told by Trobriand Children and Adults (Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Pub. Co., c2015), by Gunter Senft (PDF with commentary at John Benjamins e-Platform)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
When it comes to reading cozy mysteries, I enjoy interesting settings and sometimes even a little magic. Theres something fun about the lighthearted mystery combined with witchcraft or the occult. One of the first series I began reading years ago was the Ophelia & Abby mystery series by Shirley Damsgaard. I read two back in 2015/16 but then got pulled into a different direction. Im on a quest to catch up on all series Ive started so that I am current, then Ill take on a few new ones. This month, I went back to it with the third installment, The Trouble With Witches. It was a good, solid mystery with a likable cast and setting, but I remember it being a bit better in the earlier two.
Abby and Ophelia are grandmother and granddaughter who are also modern day witches. They solve crimes and butt heads with the local police in an Iowa town. In this caper, theyre pulled to Minnesota to investigate a possible disappearance when a news reporter whom Ophelia has a little crush on asks for their help. A girl has gone missing and might be in a cult of witches. Rick, the news reporter, knows Abby and Ophelias secret, but hes careful not to tell anyone else. The ladies take a road trip and discover a nice family, a mean family, Native American on a walkabout of sorts, and a poor almost-orphaned girl. How does it all come together? Someone ends up murdered. A past magicians secrets are revealed. But whos connected to whom in this scheme?
Overall, it was a good read and took about 3 hours to finish today. I like the magical aspects of it as theyre mostly about spells and mental connections. It challenges readers to think outside the box, but it also offers an opportunity to see a different approach to solving a puzzle. I was a little thrown off that they went to a different state, and there werent any normal characters from their town in this one other than the policeman and the news reporter on a couple of occasions. In the end, it was a good read, but I preferred the earlier ones. I will pick up another one next month to see if Im ready to finish the series or say Im done for now. Ive given this one 3.5 stars and will round up or down on various sites to balance it out.
Palanquin in the Night (Two Palanquin Bearers and a Man Holding a Torch by a River), Ohara Koson, ca. 1910
Author: Nancy Cole Silverman
Hardcover; Trade Paperback: Digital Book
ISBN: 9781635114256; 9781635114225
Henery Press Publishing
$29/46; $$14.90; $4.99 Amazon
November 6, 2018
Everybodys a critic, but in the past hundred years, few have reached the heights of Lionel Trilling. When he died in 1975, his obituary ran on the front page of the New York Timesa rarity for those in the thankless field of criticism. Through his essays for the Partisan Review and his booksincluding The Liberal ImaginationTrilling shaped and prodded the currents of American thought in a time of great social change. As Trilling himself once put it, his writing lies at the bloody crossroads of literature and politics, and this devotion to grounding literary criticism in real-world concerns made him one of the premier intellectuals of the twentieth century. Trilling was also a prolific writer of letters. By his own estimation, he wrote at least six hundred every year. In September, Farrar, Straus and Giroux published Life in Culture: Selected Letters of Lionel Trilling, edited by Adam Kirsch. Below, we present a selection of Trillings choicest opinions, which show that even in his correspondence, the critic was always at work.
On Allen Ginsbergs Howl and Other Poems
Im afraid I have to tell you that I dont like the poems at all. I hesitate before saying that they seem to me quite dull, for to say of a work which undertakes to be violent and shocking that it is dull is, I am aware, a well-known and all too-easy device. But perhaps you will believe that I am being sincere when I say they are dull. They are not like Whitmanthey are all prose, all rhetoric, without any music. What I used to like in your poems, whether I thought they were good or bad, was the voice I heard in them, true and natural and interesting. There is no real voice here. As for the doctrinal element of the poems, apart from the fact that I of course reject it, it seems to me that I heard it very long ago and that you give it to me in all its orthodoxy, with nothing new added.
On Eugene ONeill
I never can feel that ONeill is writing about menjust about the abstracted damp souls of undergraduates. It is not that he cannot thinkit is that he cannot touch: for all that fine experience of his young manhoodsea and saloons and sanitariumsthe immediacy of life has never reached him. You can see this in his language, that dreadful, dreadful soggy language, which sounds like and has in it the slang of two decades ago. The loss of the sense of touch: it marks more and more of our thought and literature. Even our language to describe it is out of touch: we say...
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Under normal circumstances, its easy for me to write a review directly after Ive read a novel. Occasionally, the book is so strong, I need time to think about what I want to say. I only finished Exaltation of Larks, the first in the Venery series by Suanne Laqueur, last night but feel compelled to get some of my thoughts down before I have so many, I cant organize a review. This book was recommended to me by a very generous blogger who wrote a stellar review of one of my books. Given how much she thought Id like Laqueurs work, I accepted the recommendation and got a copy of the book to read. I allotted it as an October read, slightly nervous that it was ~550 pages and Ive been focusing on other genres lately. After 30 minutes in, I couldnt stop reading it and thats just how it kept on going until I devoured the entire tome in 2 1/2 days.
Do not be fearful of the page count, or that its only the first in a series. I havent read the others (definitely will this year) but even if you only stopped at the first one, it would be the kind of read you always remember. It goes extremely quickly Im a quick reader but I was flipping pages so fast and connecting with the story on a different plane than normal. Id read 25% before bed the first night and still wanted to keep going despite how late itd gotten. I finished 50% the next day and then the final 25% before bed last night.
The book was written in a way that I couldnt help but feel part of it. Between physical and emotional attraction to the main characters, a thirst for something ravenous to happen, a moment or two of crying in pain, and a recognition of things I have and might be missing in my own life, this book kept pushing me to want to climb inside the spine and become one with it. Those are some powerful words, images, and thoughts, but Alex, Val, and Jav are truly the kind of characters I navigate toward. Throw in a dysfunctional set of families, cliffhangers, over-coincidences (which ultimately I love), and a statement about the value of life, I am in awe of Laqueurs plot and character development to the umpteenth degree.
Im sure Ill come back to write more you dont need me to describe the plot, just read the summary and youll get it. If youre comfortable with LGBTQ stories, s...
Portrait of a Girl from Retuna, Louis Lopold Robert, 1822
Beowulf Sheehan is the master of the literary portrait. His new book, AUTHOR, collects his photographs of two hundred writers, historians, journalists, playwrights, and poets from thirty-five countries, from Roxane Gay to Masha Gessen, Patti Smith to Zadie Smith, Karl Ove Knausgaard to J.K. Rowling, and Jonathan Franzen to Toni Morrison. Here, he was generous enough to share some moments from behind the scenes:
Margaret Atwood radiates grace. Ive felt it from her each time Ive been in her presence. In 2012, I photographed her in the greenroom of the New Schools Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall for PEN America. She was, as she had been previously, the brightest light in the room. I broke the ice by recalling the last time I was with her. Our short conversation took a turn as she brought up social media and her elation at how many people were following her on Twitter. I replied that many people adored her work and her. Then we made our pictures. I didnt know, however, that the door to the room was unlocked. Not one but two people who werent meant to be there came in while we were working. I was a bit less than graceful in redirecting them. When I turned back to Margaret, her warmth and her smile were unchanged. Of course.
I am just a speck of stardust
drifting in never-empty space
faintly lit by distant suns
do I lie by pretending to be normal
though creative kind light-hearted cheerful warm
or am I really
even the good like my mother
have mean streaks
the bad like dad more likely good
doing their best
in a complicated situation
the results inevitably beyond their control
not that there isn't evil
but it's never me if I can help it
realize other people are equally real
what I didn't actually forget
not doing what I was doing at the time
Cyclopaedia, or, An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences: Containing an Explication of the Terms, and an Account of the Things Signified Thereby, in the Several Arts, Both Liberal and Mechanical, and the Several Sciences, Human and Divine (sixth edition, 2 volumes; London: Printed for W. Innys et al., 1750), by Ephraim Chambers (stable link)
Lee of Virginia, 1642-1892: Biographical and Genealogical Sketches of the Descendants of Colonel Richard Lee (1895), by Edmund Jennings Lee (multiple formats at archive.org)
Holographic Quantum Matter (prepublication version; 2018), by Sean Hartnoll, Andrew Lucas, and Subir Sachdev (PDF at arxiv.org)
The ABC of Soils (New Brunswick, NJ: Pedology Publications, 1949), by Jacob S. Joffe (page images at HathiTrust)
Florilegio de Escritoras Cubanas (3 volumes in Spanish; 1910-1919), ed. by Antonio Gonzlez Curquejo (page images at HathiTrust; US access only)
Machineries of Oil: An Infrastructural History of BP in Iran (Cambridge, MA and London: MIT Press, c2018), by Katayoun Shafiee (PDF with commentary at MIT Press)
Shadow Libraries: Access to Knowledge in Global Education (Cambridge, MA and London; et al: MIT Press, 2018), ed. by Joe Karaganis (PDF with commentary at MIT Press)
Magazine of the Society of the Lees of Virginia, by Society of the Lees of Virginia (partial serial archives)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
One things for sure, Im a fan of mystery series. When I find a new one I like, such as the Mersey Murder Mysteries, I have to devour them all. I usually read in order, but I found this one after several books had been published, so now Im backtracking to catch up before #6 comes out soon. Today, Im reviewing A Very Mersey Murder by Brian L. Porter.
The series focuses on a core group of British policemen and policewomen who handle special crimesusually ones with complexity and longevity. In this edition, the first series of crimes happen in 1966 when three women were brutally attacked and killed. We read in the first few chapters what happens to one of the victims after she leaves a pub to walk home in a very quiet town. Its not so quiet anymore. Then we jump 39 years later to when the murders start happening again in the same exact method and order. If what happened in the past rings true again, the third victim will be a policewoman. Will one of our beloved Mersey heroines say a final goodbye? Add in a few chapters where someone in the current time frame has found the killers old journal and shares a little about the creepy nuts imagination and emotional state. Is it the killer reading from the journal, or just someone else who found it? Youll never guess until the very end!
Of the three Ive read, this is by far my favorite in the series. Porter adeptly creates a believable and charismatic set of characters who work together to solve major crimes. Sometimes they fight, sometimes they bond. But they always try to find the killer in as little time as possible. When we meet some of the victims and her friends, colleagues and acquaintances, we feel a connection to the story and the lives being impacted by the crime. Add in some side stories with adoption, illegitimate children, gender identity issues, unrequited love, and friendship, the entire book is so well-rounded, I found it hard to put down.
At times, Porters story is visceral and graphic, but also tasteful. Some readers may shy away from the gory details and delicate topics being covered, but if you can handle them, youll be thrilled with how this comes together. Just when you think youve figured out who the culprit could be 39 years ago and who it is today, youre thrown another curveball. Up until the very end, you...
Broken Heart Attack, the second book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, a light investigative / cozy mystery series, is ready for a beta read. Im looking for readers in this sub-genre whove read the first book or are interested in reading the first book (for free) and then being a beta reader on the second book over the next few weeks. It will be available on Fri 10/12 and Id want to collect all feedback on Broken Heart Attack by Fri 10/26 so that I can revise and edit by November 1st for the next review round. If youre interested, message me at email@example.com. A description of the books plot is below as well as details on the first book which is available for purchase starting 10/15.
Author: Barbara Early
Hardcover; Digital Book
ISBN #: 9781683317029
Crooked Lane Books
$17.70; $9.99 Amazon
October 9, 2018
Votive relief of a Hellenistic ruler on horseback, possibly Demetrius Poliorcetes (337-283 BCE). Now in the Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg, MA.
All of us have been thinking about this kind of thing for years, here at the Department of Ordinary Magic. We are very, very interested in supernatural phenomena that are entirely natural and that everyone ignores.
Take magnets. If they didnt really exist, they would surely exist anyhow in the imagination. They are exactly the kind of thing some kid would make up. The magical force is strong, invisible, and it only works under certain circumstances. For example, you cannot use a magnet on wood. Superman cant see through lead, and magnets dont work on wood.
There are many things like this. Telepathy, for instance. That shit exists. Everyone knows this and uses it all day long. Its just not like in the movies. I cant simply close my eyes and know what any random person is thinking. But all day long, people know what Im thinking, just by glancing at my face and posture. Half the time, they know my thinking better than I do myself! They can see right through me. However, they dont have the last laugh, cuz I can see right through them just as well, if not better. It just doesnt work on wood.
Magical spells. How do people not know this exists? You wanna be on somebodys mind, you wanna wreck their day, you wanna make their life worth living, you want em to serve you? You just say some magical words and its just exactly as if you sent Puck to sprinkle spacejuice on their eyes.
Language, radio, photographs, television glass, buoyancy, the fact that wood can be carved all these things are magic, if you just think about it for a second.
Our monthly column Feminize Your Canon explores the lives of underrated and underread female authors.
O darling, arent you glad you arent me? wrote Violet Trefusis to her pined-for lover, Vita Sackville-West, in the summer of 1921. It really is something to be thankful for. On the face of it, Trefusisne Keppeldidnt deserve anyones pity. At twenty-seven, she was brilliant, beautiful, and privileged beyond compare. Both her grandfathers had titles: an earl on one side and a baronet on the other. She had grown up in various grand homes with frequent foreign trips, spoke French and Italian fluently, and planned to be a novelist. Influenced by Oscar Wilde and Christina Rossetti, she was an aesthete whose god was Beauty. If ever I could make others feel the universe of blinding beauty that I almost see at times, she wrote, I should not have lived in vain.
The only black mark on Trefusiss illustrious background was the question mark over her fathers identity. As was then customary among the upper classes, her parents had an open relationship. All through Trefusiss childhood her mother, Alice Keppel, was the mistress of Edward VII, whom the young Violet knew as Kingy. But he wasnt her father: her birth predated the relationship, a fact that didnt stop Trefusis dropping hints about her royal lineage. Nor was Alices complaisant husband, the Honorable George Keppel, the father. The likeliest contender was William Beckett, a banker and Conservative MP whose nose Trefusis apparently had. Who was my father? A faun undoubtedly! she joked to Sackville-West. A faun who contracted a msalliance with a witch.
Though monogamy wasnt prized by the Edwardian nobility, marriage was obligatory. Shortly after her twenty-fifth birthday, in June 1919, Violet was all but frog-marched down the aisle. The groom, Denys Trefusis, was a tall, blue-eyed war hero who, at least in the eyes of society, was a peerlessly desirable match. Violet liked him well enough. But wifedom held little allure, especia...
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