The Daily

This Week’s Reading

Staff Picks: Lucian Freud, Beryl Bainbridge

August 5, 2011 | by

Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, 1952, oil on metal.

Let America wonder about Untitled by Anonymous—I got my Madoff fix in Paris, from a profile in XXI magazine. A quarterly devoted to long-form journalism, with generous helpings of fact-based bandes dessinées and photo essays reminiscent of the old National Geographic, XXI has been a somewhat unlikely hit with readers and bookstores. The magazine runs no ads, has no publicity department, conducts no market research, has minimal Web presence, and offers no discount to subscribers. As cofounder Patrick de Saint-Exupéry explains, “The magazine’s worth what it’s worth.” —Lorin Stein

I’ve been reading Beryl Bainbridge’s last novel, The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress, which was published posthumously this year. It’s strange and bleak and interesting, a little disturbing. It’s apparently based on Bainbridge herself, as well as the mysterious woman rumored to have been involved in Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination. —Sadie Stein

This weekend I plan to check out the Lucian Freud show at the Met. Freud, who died in July, once said, “I paint people, not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be.” He’s not for everyone, and that’s a good thing. —Cody Wiewandt

I’m currently working my way through this little audio treasure: forty years of Polish experimental radio. —Natalie Jacoby

I’ve been flipping through Nabokov’s annotated copy of Madame Bovary at the Berg Collection in the New York Public Library. If Flaubert’s prose doesn’t astound, then Nabokov’s illustrations of Emma Bovary’s chignon, his passing jibes at less than adequate translators, and the chronological maps of the author’s life will. —Mackenzie Beer

The relaunch of Take the Handle—an “online hub of rascalism, repartee & recreation”—includes short pieces by former Review editor Nathaniel Rich as well as an interview with the makers of Plimpton!, the forthcoming documentary of the Review’s first editor. —Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn

In Paris I found myself reading several postbreakup novels: After Claude (thanks, Sadie!), plus two books by Jean-Philippe Toussaint about a recurring ex-girlfriend named Marie. (My favorite, The Truth About Marie, comes out next month.) Toussaint has been described as a writer of nouveaux nouveaux romans, but he is dreamy and funny and haunted in a way all his own. —L. S.

The New York Post outdid itself with this piece of reportage.S. S.



  1. A | August 5, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    My college boyfriend was a painter. He got Lucian Freud’s number and called. A young British woman answered.

    My friend introduced himself as a young painter, and said he was hoping to speak to Mr. Freud. The girl put the phone down. She said, “There’s a man on the phone who says he’s a painter, from America'” etc.

    A grumbling old voice said, “Hang up on him,” and the line went dead.

  2. M.M. | August 5, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Not surprising, Lucian Freud only spoke to a very few of his own children, let alone “a painter, from America, etc.”

  3. John Williams | August 6, 2011 at 12:46 am

    After Claude is great. I’m in the process of writing about it in concert with another reissue coming out soon. And just a friendly note: there’s an italics coding issue going on that’s making most of the site slanted.

  4. Jim Holt | August 6, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Beryl Bainbridge
    Went to Cambridge
    On the morning train.
    She met Cornel West
    And was so distressed
    She never went there again.

  5. A | August 6, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    I once met Cornell West at an airport sports bar. He said, “You must be an artist or something.”

    I was twenty-one at the time. I said, “Why do you say that?”

    “Because you look like you’re suffering. It’s like, if Brother Eugene [O’Neill] were here, he’d be like…”

    West assumed a stony expression, and ate a potato chip, very seriously.

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