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Posts Tagged ‘flowers’

Queen o’ the May

May 1, 2015 | by

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The Elfin May-Pole, a Mardi Gras float design for Krewe of Proteus, New Orleans, 1887.

The other day, I received the sweetest note from an old neighbor of my family’s commenting on the beauty of spring in the town where I grew up. She recalled something I’d done many years ago: “The first year I lived here, you walked up and down the street, perhaps alone, perhaps with a friend, on May 1, to celebrate May Day. Perhaps you left a little bunch of flowers by my door?”

Perhaps I did. In any case, I’m going to guess that I was alone. I can’t imagine anyone joining me in this practice. I’d like to say it was rooted in some precocious notion of workers’ solidarity, but in fact my touchstone was more Kate Greenaway than International Socialism. (Especially given the maypole and hurdy-gurdy I requested for my eighth birthday.) Read More »

Now in Bloom: Our Spring Issue

March 2, 2015 | by

212The cherry blossoms on the cover of our new Spring issue augur the end of winter—even if they’re made of paper. They’re part of a portfolio by Thomas Demand, accompanied by poems from Ben Lerner.

We also have the first-ever in-person interview with Elena Ferrante, on the art of fiction:

As a girl—twelve, thirteen years old—I was absolutely certain that a good book had to have a man as its hero, and that depressed me … At fifteen I began to write stories about brave girls who were in serious trouble. But the idea remained—indeed, it grew stronger—that the greatest narrators were men and that one had to learn to narrate like them … Even when I wrote stories about girls, I wanted to give the heroine a wealth of experiences, a freedom, a determination that I tried to imitate from the great novels written by men.

And Lydia Davis, on her approach to the short story, to translation, and to naming:

I’ve always felt that naming was artificial. I’ve done it. I wrote about one woman and called her Mrs. Orlando, because the woman I based her on lived in Florida. Recently I wrote a story called “The Two Davises and the Rug” because I have a neighbor named Davis and he and I were trying to decide which one should end up with a certain rug, and I was very fond of using that name, even though it wouldn’t make much difference to anybody if I called it “The Two Harrises and the Rug.”

Plus, Hilary Mantel discusses her Cromwell books and the difference between historians and novelists:

Nobody seems to share my approach to historical fiction. I suppose if I have a maxim, it is that there isn’t any necessary conflict between good history and good drama. I know that history is not shapely, and I know the truth is often inconvenient and incoherent. It contains all sorts of superfluities. You could cut a much better shape if you were God, but as it is, I think the whole fascination and the skill is in working with those incoherencies.

There’s new fiction by Angela Flournoy, Ken Kalfus, and Mark Leyner, the winner of this year’s Terry Southern Prize; a novella by James Lasdun; and poems from Charles Simic, Peter Gizzi, Major Jackson, Stephen Dunn, Susan Stewart, Shuzo Takiguchi, Craig Morgan Teicher, and Sarah Trudgeon.

Mel Bochner, who designed a cover for the magazine back in 1973, is back with a portfolio of thesaurus paintings. And last, there’s “Letter from the Primal Horde,” an essay by J. D. Daniels about a fateful experience at a group-relations conference.

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Winter Blossoms

February 3, 2015 | by

Photographs of the placards at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden by Jan Baracz.

lotus

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Walking and Talking

September 3, 2014 | by

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“Hot enough for ya?” Detail from Florine Stettheimer’s Heat, 1919.

Growing up around wisecracking old relatives, you learn early how to craft a comeback. It doesn’t need to be that witty. It doesn’t even need to make sense. It just needs to be kind of sassy and really fast, to show you’re wise to the game or something.

“Just who do you think you are?” an elderly uncle might demand, inexplicably. Or, “I bet you think you deserve some candy!” In such situations, you can show no fear. When you’re a small child, this kind of obligatory badinage is awful. But it’s a skill—if you can call it a skill—that stands you in good stead as an adult.

However, even those of us trained to keep our cool in the face of faux-belligerent idiocy are occasionally stumped. Despite my years of experience and calibration, there are, specifically, three situations that leave me mute and baffled. Read More »

Any Nosegays, You Blockhead?

January 27, 2014 | by

Severin Roesen, Still Life—Flowers in a Basket, ca. 1850s.

Severin Roesen, Still Life—Flowers in a Basket, ca. 1850s.

The British dramatist Samuel Foote was born today in 1720. Foote was a playwright in the snickering, rabble-rousing tradition—a dry wit who was always getting himself into trouble. He performed plays without licensing them, basically the eighteenth-century equivalent of smuggling your camcorder into a movie theater; he went riding and was thrown from his horse, resulting in the loss of one of his legs; he spent some time in debtors’ prison; he’s rumored to have made passes at a footman or two in his day; and much of his writing features withering, thinly veiled caricatures of wealthy people, which really pissed off those wealthy people, to say nothing of their wealthy coteries. Most important, Foote is responsible for having coined the phrase “the Grand Panjandrum,” as refined a piece of nonsense as I can remember having heard. (He did it off the cuff, having faltered in the recitation of a text he’d “memorized.”)

What better way to pay tribute to the man than with an excerpt? Two centuries before Spiro Agnew’s “nattering nabobs,” there was simply The Nabob, Foote’s 1772 comedy about an aristocrat newly returned to London from the Orient. You could dip into the play anywhere and come up with comic gold; its brand of buffoonery is never out of fashion. Read More »

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Read Your Flowers

February 14, 2013 | by

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You’ll view that bouquet with new eyes! See more here.

 

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