The Paris Review Daily

This Week's Reading

What We’re Loving: Nutcrackers, Louie, Bing

December 21, 2012 | by

“He is at once too cynical, too sincere, and too weird for schmaltz”: Paris Review special Mad Men correspondent Adam Wilson turns his gaze on Louie over at the L.A. Review of Books. —Lorin Stein

This hallucinatory Christmas duet between David Bowie and Bing Crosby has become, thank God, an improbable standard, but the story behind it deserves some extracurricular reading. Peruse to deepen your experience of this seasonal wormhole as it collapses the distance between genres and generations and renders our edgy Ziggy saccharine as a candy cane. That snow-white tan is just snow, and the only things that look especially well hung are the stockings. —Samuel Fox

The Clock is back in New York. Newly ensconced in its permanent home at MoMA, Christian Marclay’s filmic marvel will be on view throughout New Year’s Eve and Day. So if you don’t have plans for the big night, head over to early to grab a couch. The best part—though also the hardest—is that you can leave whenever you want, for as Marclay says, “You don’t have to see it from beginning to end, because there is no beginning and no end.” How appropriate for close of one year and the start of another. —Nicole Rudick

Every Christmas Eve, once all the preparations for the following day have been made, I perch in front of the tree and the unopened presents and read E.T.A. Hoffmann and Maurice Sendak’s Nutcracker. It is perfectly tense for the night before a long-anticipated day. Sendak’s magnificent illustrations are largely drawn from scenery he designed for a 1983 production of the story; reproduced in a large, rectangular format, they are stage backdrops waiting for the action to begin. And the text—Hoffmann's unabridged original, translated by Ralph Manheim—is dark and brooding, full of conflict and violence. It's also quite long. I rarely finish it before falling asleep next to a smoldering pile of logs. —Clare Fentress

In my final week at The Paris Review I think it only appropriate to be brief and elegiac. I’ll let Willie Nelson say good-bye for me better than I ever could. So go ahead, Paris Review, “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.” —Graham Rogers

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