Posts Tagged ‘Ann Beattie’
September 28, 2016 | by Ann Beattie
No, not dying. Not just yet.* But already, still at home, the feeling of jet lag begins. Time seems omnipresent, yet too brief. Birthday presents are opened early. I stare at the bag from the pharmacy. Is this any time to try the antipsychotic? (Prescribed for sleep. All doctors hate Ambien, and respond to hearing the name of the drug the way bushmen respond to the scent of wild boar, unless they’re otherwise occupied by appearing on a reality show.) Required reading has been abandoned; already playing hooky by substituting reading one writer for another. I believe myself to be the only writer now reading John O’Hara instead of Peter Taylor, which says nothing about either man, much about me, and has nothing to do with the antipsychotic, as I have yet to work up the courage to ingest a pill.
Fondly, I observe the hummingbirds in the garden: “Greenie” has been feinting during its swirl upward, plotting its faux midair crash into “Blackie” (we aren’t very original in our nicknaming). They sink rapidly, like floaters in opposite eyes, then rise again, in a complex spiral. We’ve been stumped about what to call the almost equally dark hummingbird who has two white spots on its back wings, if you call them wings. This one, we merely call, “the one with white.” (Move over, Wilkie Collins.) Read More »
September 6, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
Have you heard about this election? It feels fun now, but give it time. There will come a moment when you long to escape the never-ending concussion that is electoral politics, and our new Fall issue is here for you. It’s full of the best new fiction, poetry, interviews, and art—and it contains precisely zero instances of the word election. That’s our guarantee.
In the Art of Poetry No. 100, Ishmael Reed discusses growing up in Buffalo, the search for “new mythologies” that led him to write Mumbo Jumbo, and his concerns for young writers of color: Read More »
May 10, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
- So you’ve bought an English country house—great! And you have a time machine, allowing you to choose when you’ll reside at said country house—great! May I recommend the interwar period? It was a truly exceptional time to own an English country house. Adrian Tinniswood has a new book about the era, arguing that it was “a world of energy, invention, and change … The loosening bonds between family, mansion and local community meant the country house was changing, but it was not dying … A ‘spirit of restlessness’ characterized the age. Country-house parties could last from forty-eight hours to three weeks. The word week-end entered common usage as expanding rail networks and car ownership meant that people could dash to the country on Friday and return on Monday exhausted after a race, a ball, a shoot, or a political gathering … Women, in particular, were confronted with grueling social expectations: a seven-day shooting party, for example, would require multiple outfits for every day of the week.”
- The photographer Bob Adelman has died at eighty-five. “In his college years, he studied philosophy to try to figure out the point of being alive,” Ann Beattie wrote of him in 2014. “In the civil rights movement, he found his answer.” Mary Reinholz remembers him as “your quintessential New York Jewish intellectual turned artist and activist … For me, Adelman was also a big daddy figure, a superman at the supermarket who always seemed to be there for this lowly scribe, offering sensible career advice, recommending prospective employers he knew, warning about a sportswriter boyfriend who had broken my heart. I wondered why he chose to live alone after the breakup of a relationship with a much younger woman … He didn’t drink or smoke but struggled for years with his weight and photographed his ‘shrinking’ size in nude pictures he took of himself for Esquire magazine. He once said in an interview: ‘When I photographed, I was intent on telling the truth as best I saw it and then to help in doing something about it.’ ”
- Ian Penman on Patti Smith’s new memoir, M Train, which finds her visiting writers’ graves a bit too fashionably, if not too regularly: “The spell-casting mood of M Train demands that Smith fly off on a moment’s whim, spurred on by nothing more than a lovely line in a new book she’s picked up: she realizes she loves Writer A, who either lives or is now buried in City B, decides she has to be there NOW, and before you know it she’s graveside again, the Intercity angel of death in dark Helmut Lang pants and Ann Demeulemeester cloak. It’s all so smooth and hassle-free … There are things in M Train that niggle at me in the same way [Bruce] Chatwin’s work often did: the feeling that for all their much vaunted ‘realism’ these treks occurred in a rather privileged sphere. There’s always a rich pal to provide a bed, a dinner table, a handy castle to stay at for the season; there’s always someone in the background to make sure the plane tickets arrive; fresh figs on the bedside table. Special people, living by special rules. Like Chatwin, Smith is also a bit of a consumer fetishist: the simplest things have to have a special aura or signature—or, let’s get real, a high-toned brand name. It has to be a certain Moleskine notebook. The pencil has to be Conté. The ink has to be from a little shop no one knows in the backstreets of Florence.”
- The landscape architect Adriaan Geuze (pronounced “Huh-zaa”) is changing our notions of what a park can be. But to understand his work it helps to understand his past in the Netherlands—unless you’ve never wondered about the formative years of an influential landscape architect: “‘Ecology in Holland is in grids,’ Geuze said. ‘Every frog in Holland is in a line, because all the water is linear … The smell of the tide near Dordrecht, it intoxicated my brains … All the boys were into soccer, but I could not play soccer.’ Waiting out the school day, he would think, he said, ‘I have a tree hut. I have secret places you don’t even know where they are.’ When Geuze was a teenager, his father took him along to international industry and agricultural shows. ‘We went to the German Hanover machinery expos, where there would be not five machines but five thousand machines. He took me on very big boats, at least in my imagination—ocean steamers—and even an oil platform. Even into the engine rooms, where the violent noise was there. When I am romantic, I am thinking about these things.’ ”
- Ben Jones and Christopher Forgues, cartoonists who collaborate under the name Paper Radio, have been quietly breaking the mold since 1999: “Working together, often under pseudonyms, they changed the form and content of comics as few other artists have, radically distorting extant storytelling genres and emphasizing experimental approaches to drawing and printing … A Paper Radio publication could contain subversive fan fiction about the Muppet Babies, elaborate fantasy adventures, psychedelic space operas, or crude slapstick gags. All of these works circulated in small editions among an audience of like-minded artists and musicians, members of a largely unchronicled New England subculture whose aesthetic continues to seep, credited or not, into popular visual forms, from music videos to subway advertisements.”
June 23, 2015 | by Dan Piepenbring
The narrator of “Yancey,” Ann Beattie’s story in our new Summer issue, is an aging poet; she tells of her encounter with an IRS agent who shows up to audit her. Toward the end, she recites a poem to him—James Wright’s famous “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota”:
Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
Blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
The droppings of last year’s horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.
As it turns out, that poem first appeared in The Paris Review; it was published some fifty-four years ago alongside his “How My Fever Left” in our Summer-Fall 1961 issue. Since then, that last line has inspired reams of analysis and debate—is it a lament? Is it a joke, a kind of boast? Did Wright intend to undercut or to bolster his pastoral scene with it? Could it be a winking response to Rilke, whose “Archaic Torso of Apollo” concludes with the imperative “You must change your life”? Beattie’s IRS agent isn’t sure what to make of it: Read More »
June 1, 2015 | by The Paris Review
Our new Summer issue features work in and about translation. There’s a story from Andrés Neuman and a sneak peek at Michel Houellebecq’s controversial novel, Submission, plus poems by Coral Bracho, Xi Chuan, Radmila Lazić, and Iman Mersal. At its center are two interviews in our Art of Translation series—first with Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, who have been married for thirty-three years and whose thirty-odd translations include The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment, War and Peace, Anna Karenina, and Chekhov’s Selected Stories. “Very naive readers think you take the Russian and you put it in English, and then you’re done,” Pevear says. Read More »
February 21, 2014 | by Ann Beattie
Bob Adelman’s amazing photographs—the majority of them black-and-white prints—fill the second floor of the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, where they will be on display until May 17. He photographed what came to be significant moments in the civil rights movement as they were happening. As a photographer for CORE, SNCC, Life magazine, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, he was on the scene for moments both momentous and not, to photograph Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. and also never-to-be-famous individuals, families, children—people we wouldn’t have seen again, had Adelman not been there to show them on the sidelines as well as in the forefront, their eyes their own camera lenses, looking back; exiting “White Men Only” bathrooms at the courthouse in Clinton, Louisiana; and then kids who climbed up in a tree to view the memorial service of Dr. King, attended by Robert Kennedy (what a portrait of grief), who’d be dead himself only months later. As a documentary photographer, nothing stopped Bob. It was dangerous work, as was pointed out by one of the speakers at the January 19 museum opening, but Bob found inequality inexplicable and insupportable. In his college years, he studied philosophy to try to figure out the point of being alive. In the civil rights movement, he found his answer.
Don’t miss (not that you could) the enormous enlargement of the contact sheet from when Bob was first focusing on the police’s attempt to blast away protestors in Birmingham by aiming fire hoses at them. It gives you a chance to see the photographer’s mind at work, frame after frame, and is unforgettable as an image, the people holding hands, some with their hats not yet knocked off, in Kelly Ingram Park, struggling to remain upright in the blast, a fierce, watery tornado that obliterates the sky as it seems to become a simultaneously beautiful and malicious backdrop that obliterates the world. The large photograph in the museum took two days to print. Dr. King, upon first seeing Bob’s photograph: “I am startled that out of so much pain some beauty came.”
Ann Beattie’s story “Janus” was included in John Updike’s The Best American Short Stories of the Century.