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Author Archive

Fur

January 28, 2016 | by

Quentin Blake’s illustration for Kitty-in-Boots. Image via Penguin

Earlier this week, many of us were electrified by the announcement that an unpublished Beatrix Potter book, The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots, would come out this September. The story was discovered in a cache of papers by the editor Jo Hanks. And Penguin has already released a tantalizing teaser: Read More »

Gothic Tale

January 27, 2016 | by

I don’t believe in evil, I believe only in horror. In nature there is no evil, only an abundance of horror: the plagues and the blights and the ants and the maggots. —Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)

This is my second post about Karen Blixen this week, and you’d be forgiven, when you see that I’m about to share a Karen Blixen documentary, for thinking I’ve really fallen down a rabbit hole. You’d also be correct. I’ve long been an admirer of her work, and I find her personal history fascinating, but this film is something different entirely; I had to direct your attention to it. Read More »

TLC

January 26, 2016 | by

Photo: Anthony Quintano/@anthonyquintano

A snowstorm brings with it an abundance of opportunities for philanthropy: neighbors with walks to shovel, older people to help over drifts, cars to dig out, shut-ins to visit and feed. You see the best of humanity, a hundred times a day, at relatively low risk. Conversely, of course, there are plenty of opportunities for good men to stand by and do nothing. You know what happens then. Read More »

The Gayety of Vision

January 25, 2016 | by

Karen Blixen in Copenhagen, 1957.

INTERVIEWER

What is your favorite fruit?

DINESEN

Strawberries.

INTERVIEWER

Do you like monkeys?

DINESEN

Yes, I love them in art: In pictures, in stories, in porcelain, but in life they somehow look so sad. They make me nervous. I like lions and gazelles.

—Isak Dinesen, the Art of Fiction No. 14, 1956

When Isak Dinesen gave her 1956 Art of Fiction interview, she was into her seventies. It’s one of the strangest entries in the Review’s Writers at Work series. While the focus is, naturally, on Dinesen’s work as an author, the artist, also known as Baroness Karen Christentze Blixen-Finecke, addresses her career as a painter, too: Read More »

Let Me Entertain You

January 22, 2016 | by

Larry Salk, Summer Cocktail Party with English Butler, 1961, watercolor, gouache, ink on paper.

Among my other compulsions, I have an addiction to books about entertaining. Specifically, I suck at cooking but here are my tricks for impressing everyone books. This category encompasses titles like Peg Bracken’s classic The I Hate to Cook Book, but my favorites are less defiant and more conspiratorial. I think it all started with a copy of the food stylist Kevin Crafts’s Desperate Measures: 90 Unintimidating Recipes for the Domestically Inept, which was in my house when I was growing up. It contains fabulous chapters like “Entertaining Is a Self-Inflicted Wound,” “Remedial Entertaining,” and “Patsy Cline Memorial Chili Dinner.” The pictures are, needless to say, outstanding, and I still like his ice-cream-cake recipe. My addiction was hastened by Sally Quinn’s The Party (in which she’s always passing bought food off as her own) and over the years bolstered with any title containing the words entertaining, secrets, trickery, and stylish solutionsRead More »

Relativity

January 21, 2016 | by

Einstein with puppet.

I inquired about the mechanism of these figures. I wanted to know how it is possible, without having a maze of strings attached to one's fingers, to move the separate limbs and extremities in the rhythm of the dance. His answer was that I must not imagine each limb as being individually positioned and moved by the operator in the various phases of the dance. Each movement, he told me, has its center of gravity; it is enough to control this within the puppet. The limbs, which are only pendulums, then follow mechanically of their own accord, without further help. He added that this movement is very simple. When the center of gravity is moved in a straight line, the limbs describe curves. Often shaken in a purely haphazard way, the puppet falls into a kind of rhythmic movement which resembles dance. —Heinrich von Kleist, “On the Marionette Theatre”

Before there was Charlie Kaufman, there was Forman Brown. And there was Albert Einstein, holding an Albert Einstein marionette. The marionette in question was a member of the cast of Brown’s Yale Puppeteers, who performed a special for the physicist in 1931 at Los Angeles’s Teatro Torito.  Read More »