April 29, 2016 | by Robert P. Baird
Jenny Diski died yesterday. You might have discovered that fact if you happened to visit the London Review of Books, where Diski published essays, reviews, and blog posts for nearly twenty-five years. Or maybe, like me, you learned it on Twitter, where, hours before the obituaries arrived, old tweets of Diski’s, some of them years out of date, started swirling back into circulation. They joined a tumble of appreciative links and quotations, an accumulation whose size quickly disqualified the possibility of happy coincidence. This is how death announces itself now, at least for the artists who don’t rate a breaking-news alert on our phones: a surge of mentions on social media, a collective attempt to plug up the vacuum of absence with digital abundance. For a moment you think you’ve lucked into an outpouring of spontaneous enthusiasm. Finally! you tell yourself. We’re talking about her now! But then quickly enough the rational brain reasserts itself and begins working down the checklist: Are they handing out Nobels today? A genius grant, maybe? Was someone quoted by Beyoncé? No? Oh. Oh, no. Read More »
April 8, 2016 | by Lorin Stein
Ever since I started editing The Paris Review, I’ve wished we could interview Merle Haggard. No songwriter means as much to me. Unfortunately, the Review doesn’t have a series on the Art of Songwriting (and for good reasons), so for the past six years I just wished. Then last Friday, at a friend’s wedding, I met a country deejay named Rebecca Birmingham. We happened to start talking about Merle and how much his songs moved us both, how true they were to experience, how original they sound even now. We both knew he was in poor health, he’d been in poor health for years, but she had a friend who’d know how to get in touch … Four days later we got the news that he was dead. Read More »
March 29, 2016 | by Terry McDonell
The arts are our wild edge, the wilderness areas of the imagination …
Jim Harrison gained international renown as a storyteller of literary genius, but through all the novels and novellas and films that made him a celebrity, he remained a poet. His first book of poems, 1965’s Plain Song, came out a half century and a year ago. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship for his poetry in 1969—before he began writing anything else. That “anything else” turned into twenty-one volumes of fiction, two books of essays, a memoir, and a children’s book; and there were fourteen books of poetry, too. During some weeks and months of his life, he wrote poetry every day. Read More »
March 14, 2016 | by Brian Cullman
George Martin, 1926–2016.
In the summer of 1971, I got a lift to Marblehead, Massachusetts, to audition for George Martin. It wasn’t my idea. I wasn’t ready; musically I was barely ambulatory, but my friend Dick Shapiro had dropped out of school a few months earlier and landed a gig with a mobile recording service who’d set up shop in an old house on the Cape to record Seatrain. George Martin was producing, and had agreed to see me.
When Martin walked in, he filled the room. He was trim and neatly pressed, gracious, with just a hint of malice behind his poise, like an assistant principal making a surprise visit to the classroom. I got the sense that he’d rather be sharpening pencils. Read More »
February 18, 2016 | by Alex Abramovich and Emily Barton
Denise Matthews—aka Vanity—died this week, at the age of fifty-seven. In memoriam, we’re sharing this ’06 exchange from the late, lamented Moistworks, the music blog founded by James Morris and more or less edited by Alex Abramovich. Read Part 1 here.
From: Emily Barton
To: Alex Abramovich
Subject: Down on my knees
February 17, 2016 | by Alex Abramovich and Emily Barton
Denise Matthews—aka Vanity—died this week, at the age of fifty-seven. In memoriam, we’re sharing this ’06 exchange from the late, lamented Moistworks, the music blog founded by James Morris and more or less edited by Alex Abramovich.
From: Alex Abramovich
To: Emily Barton
Subject: Hello, Nasty
Read More »