Arts & Culture
May 16, 2016 | by Jonathan Lippincott
The art and life of Mark di Suvero
Three decades ago, long before the development of the High Line, the sculptor Mark di Suvero led an effort to transform an illegal garbage dump in Long Island City into a vast green space devoted to large-scale sculpture. Di Suvero was fifty-three years old at the time, and already a veteran of the public-art movement. During the sixties and seventies, he had taken part in several outdoor sculpture exhibitions—in Cincinnati, Houston, and Grand Rapids—and he later created citywide solo shows of his work across the United States and Europe. By 1980, he was working out of a studio in Long Island City, not far from the four-acre landfill, and it wasn’t long before he was dreaming about alternative uses for the neglected riverfront parcel. In 1986, di Suvero arranged to lease the property from the city for a dollar a year. Working with the Athena Foundation, an organization he had created nearly a decade earlier, he employed members of the community to clean up and replant the site. That fall, the newly christened Socrates Sculpture Park held its first public exhibition, which included work by Vito Acconci, Bill and Mary Buchen, Rosemarie Castoro, di Suvero, and others. Read More »
April 21, 2016 | by Matthew Thurber
April 20, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
Longtime readers of the Review will recall our 1997 interview with Barney Rosset, the irrepressible publisher of Grove Press and the Evergreen Review. In the fifties and sixties, Rosset brought scores of ostensibly obscene books to the U.S., often to the gross offense of the era’s leading fuddy-duddies. The unexpurgated Lady Chatterley’s Lover? A Grove title. Tropic of Cancer—also Grove. American editions of Waiting for Godot, Our Lady of the Flowers, Naked Lunch, Last Exit to Brooklyn—all Rosset’s doing. Even I Am Curious (Yellow), everyone’s favorite X-rated Swedish art-house flick, was a Rosset import. As he says in his Art of Publishing interview, all this illicit material came with its share of trouble—some of which he sought out willingly. When he published Chatterley, for example, Rosset was so eager to strike a blow against censorship that he used the book as bait, getting himself hauled into court: Read More »
April 20, 2016 | by Carson Vaughan
A brush with the Sage of Baltimore.
For better or worse, I am a child of the Plains, and so my first experience with H. L. Mencken was less an introduction than a confrontation. I first learned of the Sage of Baltimore during his cameo appearance in a Great Plains history course, at the University of Nebraska. Henry Mencken considered us part of a large and ever-growing species he called homo boobiens, my professor explained. Wedged between the Omaha race riots and the Agricultural Marketing Act of ’29, Mencken showed up during the Scopes Monkey Trial to wield his pen against William Jennings Bryan, whom he described as “one of the most tragic asses in American history.” What a dick, I thought. I liked him immediately.
I liked him so much that I bought The American Language, the pillar of his bibliography, and never touched it again. Unaware of my purchase, my girlfriend gave me a copy of the same book as a gift, but not before gluing the pages together and carving out the middle to camouflage my secrets. Later I purchased a used copy of The New Mencken Letters and schlepped that 635-page tome around wherever I went, reading a letter or two here and there, recklessly quoting from it in term papers.
From the letters, I became smitten with Mencken’s verbal gymnastics, his apparent refusal to say something plain when it could be said with the cocksure verbosity of a Southern lawyer. Perhaps, too, I was charmed by that most convenient of facts: he was dead. Had Mencken still been alive, I have no doubt I’d have raised my guard, but that is the gift of hindsight. Instead I accepted him the way he accepted himself, disregarding the imperfections—of which, I would later find out, there were many.
April 19, 2016 | by Daniel Kehlmann
In this conversation—first published last month in the German magazine Cicero—Daniel Kehlmann and the Nabokov scholar Michael Maar discuss one of Maar’s most unlikely discoveries about Lolita.
In your book The Two Lolitas, you made an intriguing discovery—it started to obsess me a bit. What’s equally interesting, and kind of outrageous, is that most Nabokov scholars ignored your finding. Maybe they felt they ought to shield Nabokov from charges of plagiarism. So let’s get this out of the way first—is this about plagiarism?
Of course not. The word came up in the press when I published my first article about the discovery, but that’s not what this is about at all. Read More »
April 18, 2016 | by Shelley Salamensky
In the early sixties, Don Wilen had just one tax client—Mrs. Sheftel, who ran the candy store on his corner. When Paul Krassner, radical prankster and editor of the satirical journal The Realist, printed an interview with George Lincoln Rockwell, the American Nazi Party founder, Wilen wrote in to complain.
“I said,” Wilen recently recalled, “ ‘I’m a Jewish accountant, and respect your right to free speech, but hate—’ ”
Krassner rang him up. “An accountant! I need an accountant.” Now Wilen had two clients.
One day Wilen’s mother, babysitting, picked up the phone. “Some friend of yours, making believe he’s the famous poet Allen Ginsberg.” Wilen now had three. Read More »