Posts Tagged ‘Herman Melville’
October 18, 2012 | by Sadie Stein
August 27, 2012 | by Charlotte Strick
Joanna Neborsky is a book lover’s illustrator. She may be as passionate and romantic about books and bookmaking as anyone I’ve met. She also draws the kind of pictures I’ve always wanted to make. They are deceptively simple due to the naive charm of each wobbly line, and they owe a great deal to the inspiration of mid-twentieth-century illustration—an obsession she and I both share. A few years ago Joanna and I collaborated on the cover of John Bowe’s Americans Talk About Love. A recent art school grad, she was willing to endlessly modify caricatures of the people interviewed for the book. The final package made for a witty and accessible take on social history. I always urge the artists I work with to keep me apprised of new projects, and so a few weeks ago I was tickled to discover a jpeg of Joanna’s poster “A Partial Inventory of Gustave Flaubert’s Personal Effects, As Catalogued by M. Lemoel on May 20, 1880, Twelve Days after the Writer’s Death” in my inbox. We had to share it with readers of The Paris Review, and now I wanted to share a little about how it came to be.
August 24, 2012 | by Sadie Stein
July 27, 2012 | by Anna Altman
I recently picked up a copy of Sheila Heti’s How Should a Person Be?, out last month from Henry Holt, to find a favorite passage. It appeared at the beginning of the novel’s fifth act, or at least it had in the first copy I had read, a Canadian version published by Anansi in September 2010. But flipping through this new edition from Heti’s American publisher, I couldn’t find it. I felt disoriented and wondered if my memory was failing me, and as I looked more closely at the American version, I saw that much else had changed: passages had been deleted or transposed; new characters appeared; objects changed value and form.
After a few minutes of searching, I found the passage I was looking for. It hadn’t changed much between the first publication and the second, but its new placement left me confused, and surprisingly disappointed. I wanted to find the book exactly as I’d left it, and felt the same as Jonathan Franzen, who recently expressed his misgivings about e-books: “When I read a book, I’m handling a specific object in a specific time and place. The fact that when I take the book off the shelf it still says the same thing—that’s reassuring.” Books often feel like restorative, reliable old friends—and although Heti’s book hadn’t forfeited its material qualities, my assurance of its fixity had been shaken.
May 2, 2012 | by Sadie Stein
March 29, 2012 | by Jason Novak
Bartleby is a law clerk on Wall Street who one day refuses a demand from his startled boss with the words “I’d prefer not to.” Over time, he prefers to do less and less, confounding the lawyer, until at last he is taken to prison, where he refuses to eat. At the end of the story, we learn that Bartleby worked in the Dead Letter Office, burning people’s unclaimed letters.
I drew this as a break from struggling with a larger piece I’ve been working on, so I was amused to learn that Melville wrote “Bartleby” while struggling with Moby Dick. Indeed, some of the details in this story are reminiscent of Melville’s sea fiction: there are no women; the world outside Bartleby’s office is murky, like the sea; he stares out the window at a brick wall for hours on end, like a weary mariner gazing at an endless horizon. The prevailing tone is one of destruction, so I used the flame from my kitchen stove to burn the bottom edge of the panel.
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