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Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

Staff Picks: Mortar, Machine Guns, Manuscript Porn

October 21, 2016 | by

Marc Yankus, Haughwout Building, 2016.

When the paleologist Christopher de Hamel first conceived Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts, he wanted to call it Interviews with Manuscripts, but his publisher wouldn’t let it fly. His pitch, eccentric though it may be, was that encountering texts like The Copenhagen Psalter and The Hours of Jeanne de Navarre in their original forms, deep in the bowels of the world’s most esoteric and inaccessible libraries, is not unlike interviewing famous celebrities in their current homes. “The idea of this book, then,” he writes in the introduction, “is to invite the reader to accompany the author on a private journey to see, handle and interview some of the finest illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages.” For how seriously De Hamel takes the premise—and he takes it, like, aggressively seriously—Meetings can feel, somewhat hilariously, like big-league manuscript porn: “As you sit in the reading-room of a library turning the pages of some dazzlingly illuminated volume,” he says, “you can sense a certain respect from your fellow students on neighboring tables consulting more modest books or archives.” Each of the book’s twelve studies is meticulously researched, and De Hamel showcases them with such self-evident joy that they’re irresistibly immersive. —Daniel Johnson

We featured a portfolio of the artist Marc Yankus’s “Secret Lives of Buildings” series in our Winter 2014 issue. Last week, Yankus packed the newly relocated ClampArt gallery for his fifth solo show, up through November 26. His new work furthers his obsession with New York’s architecture; once again, Yankus plays with geometry, texture, and ornament, tricking the eye with his masterful and often painterly attention to brick and mortar—obsessively blurring the lines between photography and illustration. Yankus seems to bring out the very best in these buildings, some that we’re so familiar with that we have ceased really seeing them. His work asks us to take a second look—and the images are imbued with optimism and splendor at a time when it’s often difficult to feel uplifted. Yankus has left behind the sandpaper tones and textures from his last body of work, introducing more light through a whitewashing effect. The sheer scale of some of the prints gives the impression that you could easily step, like Alice through the looking glass, from the gallery floor into one of Yankus’s deserted streets. —Charlotte Strick Read More »

A Little Fable

October 13, 2016 | by

From the cover of Bright Magic.

The German writer Alfred Döblin (1878–1957) is best known for his novel Berlin Alexanderplatz; Bright Magicout this month from New York Review Books, is the first collection of his stories to appear in English. In this later story, an imaginary citizenry surrenders their rights with glee. 

Once upon a time there was a continent called Allbark and Nobite, and in it a country called the Kingdom of Tongue-Tied. The sun and the moon shone their light upon it, in their customary alternating fashion, but mighty rivers flowed through and rugged mountains towered above it, giving rise to a sense of the exceptional and heroic. The kingdom was named Tongue-Tied following the wishes of its own people, since there was nothing they respected as much as language. Because of their idolatrous worship of language, they used it as little as possible. Education was therefore directed primarily toward vigorous exercise, business, and sports, and also music, and noise, but with no words or meaning. Language, they taught, was not worthy of a true Tongue-Tiedian; precise thinking was likewise not held in very high esteem. People made themselves understood with looks, short nods, or hand gestures, and deaf-mutes enjoyed great honor throughout the land. Read More »

Introducing the NYRB Classics + Paris Review Book Club

October 3, 2016 | by

Get twelve books and four issues for $140.

It’s no secret that we at The Paris Review admire New York Review Books, the imprint known for “rescuing and reviving all kinds of ignored or forgotten works … by writers renowned and obscure” (the New York Times). We’ve interviewed their founder, Edwin Frank. We’ve published their insightful introductions and raved about their translations. We’ve offered to wash their cars, pick up their dry cleaning, and house-sit for them.

Now we’ve decided to formalize the arrangement with a new book club. Sign up and you’ll get a one-year subscription to The Paris Review plus one new book from NYRB Classics every month. That’s four issues of the best new fiction, poetry, and interviews, plus twelve books, bringing you the best new and rediscovered classics: a $260 value, for just $140.

The book club kicks off this month with Ge Fei’s The Invisibility Cloak, a Chinese novel about a fortysomething loser in contemporary Beijing:

He’s divorced (and still doting on his ex), childless, and living with his sister (her husband wants him out) in an apartment at the edge of town with a crack in the wall the wind from the north blows through while he gets by, just, by making customized old-fashioned amplifiers for the occasional rich audio-obsessive. He has contempt for his clients and contempt for himself. The only things he really likes are Beethoven and vintage speakers. Then an old friend tips him off about a special job—a little risky but just don’t ask too many questions—and can it really be that this hopeless loser wins?

We’ll be discussing these titles and more here on the Daily in the months to come. We hope you’ll join us in reading along. Subscribe now!

Where Nothing Can Go Worng

September 29, 2016 | by


We’re not spying, but it feels like we are. Each moment is tracked on surveillance monitors, recorded, studied. On one screen, a man, dressed moments ago in cowboy gear, is now postcoital with a robot prostitute. She soon makes herself scarce, heading back to recharge her circuits in the break room. The cowboy stares up at the ceiling, his six-shooter cooling in a holster draped over a chair. He’s luxuriating inside a simulacrum of an 1880s Western whorehouse, one situated within a network of amusement parks in an unnamed desert expanse. It’s the end of the first act of the 1973 film Westworld, written and directed by Michael Crichton, a master of the techno-thriller novel whose occasional forays into filmmaking—he directed a half dozen features over two decades—yielded more modest, earthbound results than the fantastical predictions he packed into his paperbacks. But Westworld, his feature debut, continues to haunt. Its vision of a pleasure dome with exploited, humanlike robots as moving targets has been reprogrammed into a highly anticipated HBO series, premiering Sunday. Read More »

Chris Bachelder’s The Throwback Special Nominated for National Book Award

September 16, 2016 | by

An illustration by Jason Novak for The Throwback Special.

Earlier this week, we announced that several of our writers have been nominated for this year’s Man Booker Prize, and more still for the National Book Award in poetry. Now we’re thrilled to report that Chris Bachelder’s novel The Throwback Specialwhich was serialized in The Paris Review and won our Terry Southern Prize for Humor this year—has been longlisted for the National Book AwardRead More »

The Power of Perfect Park Pics, and Other News

September 14, 2016 | by

Roger Minick, Woman with Scarf at Inspiration Point, Yosemite National Park, 1980. From the series ‘Sightseers’. Courtesy of the artist and George Eastman Museum. Via Hyperallergic.

  • Every morning I wake up and I turn to the computer and I ask it, Did they turn a Thomas Bernhard novel into an opera today? The answer has historically been no, which brings me down. But today the answer is yes: David Lang’s opera adaptation of The Loser made its world premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and it is, apparently, good. Francine Prose writes, “The beauty of the music makes us more intensely aware of the grief and disappointment that fuel the narrator’s anger. [Conrad] Tao’s marvelous performance and Lang’s restrained and gorgeous score are haunting reminders of what the narrator has given up. This is, after all, his whole life that he is talking about: his blighted dreams, his unrealized hopes.”
  • A new book, Picturing America’s National Parks, lives up to its name: it’s full of useful park pics, many of them perhaps not as rugged and authentic as you might expect: “Even in the nineteenth century, photographs were more propaganda than truth, conveying an idealistic vision of these ‘untouched’ lands. Eadweard Muybridge, for instance, added perfectly wispy clouds to his wet-collodion images. And notably, these landscapes were usually completely void of people, suggesting another West to be won and protected. If a person does appear, they are a tiny specter dwarfed by the grandeur of nature, and they are certainly not indigenous. There are plenty of ladies in full skirts strolling with parasols among the burbling springs of Yellowstone or the mountains of Yosemite, but no images of the tribes that had inhabited many of these regions for centuries.” 

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