Posts Tagged ‘journalism’
August 15, 2013 | by Molly Crabapple
Somewhere, on an NSA server in Utah, there sits an email from Warren Ellis threatening to strangle me to death with my own intestines.
Our all-caching surveillance state is something that might have been thought up by Ellis himself. A writer of novels, comics, essays, and movies starring a machine-gun-toting Helen Mirren, Ellis looks more deeply than most into our potential futures. Born in working-class Southend-on-Sea, he is best known as the writer of the canonical graphic novel series Transmetropolitan. A decade before the Internet-enabled explosion of independent journalism, Transmet corrupted a generation of young reporters, giving them the notion that journalism was the bullet that could “blow a kneecap off the world.” In January, he published bestselling Gun Machine, which exploits genre conventions to explore the ghost cities that exist in both high finance and the minds of the insane. Most recently, Ellis released Dead Pig Collector, a novella about love and body disposal, as a Kindle Single with FSG. He is currently at work on his first book of nonfiction.
We’ve been friends and sometime collaborators for a decade. When I told him I’d like to interview him for The Paris Review, he demanded proof that the editor hadn’t confused him with the violinist Warren Ellis of The Bad Seeds. When Sadie emailed to confirm that she realized he was, in fact, the bestselling author, he wrote me back: “I DIDN’T SAY ‘BEST SELLING’ YOU HORRIBLE INFANT!”
Ellis wears a field hat, drinks very old whisky, and chain-smokes Silk Cut cigarettes. He is forty-five years old.
You’re semi-crack-addicted to information. Whenever we talk, you have a podcast, the Economist, some ambient drone music, and a reader full of links open. Dead Pig Collector was inspired by an article you read on Chinese garbage disposal. Tell me about your information consumption.
This is going to be just another way for you to insist I listen to the sounds of insects having sex and calling it music while you pollute your apartment with the strains of some idiot with a ukulele wailing about consumption and sodomy.
We call that culture. As an Englishman, you wouldn’t understand.
What would you know about culture? You come from the town that gave the world the cronut.
August 7, 2013 | by Sam Stephenson
For the past thirty years, the photographer Hiroshi Watanabe has split his time between Tokyo and Los Angeles. I met him at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park when he reported for his first day of work on the Bull City Summer project. He’s a compact man who moves carefully but fluidly; at age sixty-two, he resembles a boxing trainer or a retired gymnast. On meeting, he said to me, “I have a question—why did you invite me? I don’t follow baseball and I’ve never photographed it.” He already knew the answer—I think he wanted to find out if I did.
A few days later, during one of that week’s many rain delays, Hiroshi wandered into the dark, narrow room inside the left-field wall, behind the manually operated scoreboard on the thirty-foot Blue Monster. In this barnlike storage space, placard numerals are lifted and installed in the appropriate slots, facing outward into the stadium, to indicate runs, hits, and errors during games. Here’s how Hiroshi described what he found there:
I saw all these panels with numbers on them. I realized that the number zero had a certain translucent quality the other numbers didn’t have. The paint on the zero has been faded by more exposure to sunlight. This fading has made beautiful patterns—maplike, veinlike cracks. The passage of time offers different textures on different materials. In the scoreboard numbers, it’s just faded paint. Only zero shows the passing of time I’m looking for. Read More »
January 8, 2013 | by Michael Lipkin and Sophie Pinkham
On the afternoon of October 1, 1810, people started gathering in front of Berlin’s Hedwigskirche, where a new paper would be selling its first issue. By evening the crowd had grown so large that guards were posted to maintain order. The whole city, it seemed, had turned out for the launch of the paper, the Berliner Abendblätter. Even the king had asked for a copy.
Officially, the Abendblätter was edited anonymously. Among the city’s literary elite, however, it was widely known that the paper was written almost single-handedly by Heinrich von Kleist, a young writer. Kleist’s plays and novellas were written with exceptional elegance, but were preoccupied with rape, war, and natural disaster. Kleist had once enjoyed the patronage of Goethe, but after a disastrous theatrical collaboration the two writers found it impossible to continue working together. Goethe admitted that his protégé filled him with revulsion and horror, “as though a body nature had intended to be beautiful were afflicted with an incurable disease.”
June 28, 2012 | by Matt Weinstock
In April The Believer declared Nora Ephron “the original Tina Fey.” This week, an obituary on The Daily Beast said that she was bigger than Twain. Both superlatives gloss over the fact that Ephron’s work was widely reviled (a Village Voice review of Bewitched even argued that “the Ephrons should have to sharecrop, for all the good they've done for the culture”) and that, even for Ephron devotees, part of the charm of seeing her latest flick was wondering whether it’d be typical Burbank dung (Mixed Nuts! Michael!) or a piece of deathless Hollywood legend.
Ephron kept dice in her purse, was willing to “teach almost anyone how to play craps at a moment’s notice,” and her writing had a gambler’s unevenness. The rambling digressiveness, along with the faint datedness, of her worldview only intensified your shock when Ephron arrived, seemingly by accident, at an incisive thought. Here she is in her 1983 roman à clef Heartburn, recounting a speech she often made while preparing Lillian Hellman’s pot roast recipe:
I have no problem with her political persona, or with her insistence on making herself the centerpiece of most of the historical conflicts of the twentieth century; but it seems to me that she invented a romantic fantasy about her involvement with Dashiell Hammett that is every bit as unrealistic as the Doris Day movies feminists prefer to blame for society’s unrealistic notions about romance … it occurred to me as I delivered [the speech] yet another time that I had always zipped through that part of the speech as if I had somehow managed to be invulnerable to the fantasy, as if I had somehow managed to escape from or rise above it simply as a result of having figured it out. I think you often have that sense when you write—that if you can spot something in yourself and set it down on paper, you’re free of it.
As someone who was corn-fed on her movies as a child, the passage seems eerily prophetic. Seeing Ephron gab about “unrealistic notions about romance” in 1983 is rather like hearing those reports that the young L. Ron Hubbard told friends, “If you want to get rich, you start a religion”—and it hints at the nagging contradictions of Nora Ephron’s life.
October 21, 2010 | by Carolyn Kellogg
This is the second installment of Kellogg’s culture diary. Click here to read the first.
7:00 A.M. I wake up to finish Bound by Antonya Nelson, and then spend the rest of the day running errands, sorting through books that have arrived, and trying to wrap my head around what to say in my review. It’s due Monday and runs next Sunday.
1:00 P.M. It’s back to Book Soup, this time for my friend Cecil Castellucci’s midday reading from her young-adult novel Rose Sees Red. I give Cecil a ride to the airport—she’s off to Wordstock in Portland—and head right back to Book Soup. There are plenty of other places to go for readings and signings in Los Angeles, I swear, but it’s become Book Soup week. This time, Lorin Stein talks to a full house about The Paris Review with David L. Ulin. Nobody gets punched in the nose.
5:00 P.M. Leave the paper to drive the hour-plus to UCLA for the Look at This F*ing Panel: A Sociological Discussion on the Hipster, a follow-up to one held last year in New York. The audience, mostly students, is not overly hipsterized, except for the proliferation of crocheted hats, which can only be an unfortunate fashion statement on an eighty-degree day.
6:00 A.M. Writing up the hipster panel for Jacket Copy, Tao Lin and his fans in the audience look good, and my admiration for Gavin McInnes, shirtless and full of counterintuitive interruptions is too subtle. Alas, McInnes, a cofounder of Vice Magazine, later tweets that my review is “wimpy,” which I tell myself is marginally better than “boring,” his other critique.
11:30 A.M. At my desk at the paper, trying to sort out ongoing login problems and prepping for the Man Booker Prize announcement. There are people in London gathered at a gala event; me, I’m frustrated that the BBC, which is broadcasting it, isn’t making the stream available in the U.S. Luckily, someone tweets a version of the feed I can see. It’s jittery, a hack I think, but it does the trick. Read More »
August 30, 2010 | by Stephanie LaCava
Proust’s Overcoat tells the story of Jacques Guérin, a Parisian perfume magnate, who was obsessed with the works of Marcel Proust. In 1929, through a chance connection, he met Proust's family, only to discover that they intended to destroy the author's notebooks, letters, and manuscripts. Guérin ingratiated himself with Proust's heirs, and through bribery and kindness, amassed a collection of Proust's belongings and manuscripts, saving it from destruction. I recently exchanged e-mails with Lorenza Foschini, an Italian journalist, about her book.
Why was Proust’s overcoat so special?
Proust's contemporaries, like Jean Cocteau, described his style as embodying an old, refined elegance. He was a real dandy, always dressed in large silk shirtfronts by Charvet, a double-breasted waistcoat, very light colored gloves with black points, a flat-brimmed top hat, a rose or an orchid in a buttonhole of his frock coat, and a walking cane. But even on the hottest days, Marcel didn’t remove his heavy fur-lined coat. This became legendary among those who knew him.
How did you discover this story?
Those who love Proust know that such passion often becomes a mania. This was so in my case. When interviewing the well-known Visconti costume designer, Piero Tosi, I could not resist the temptation to ask him if he knew the reason why the great filmmaker (Luchino Visconti) stopped production on his beloved project, bringing In Search of Lost Time to the big screen.
In the early seventies, the American studios allocated a lot of money for this project and there was talk of casting actors like Laurence Olivier, Marlon Brando, Dustin Hoffman, even Greta Garbo. Tosi was invited to Paris to go over production plans. It was there that he met a very special person. My book comes from the extraordinary story that Tosi told me about this man, Jacques Guérin.
I can understand the need to collect the letters, diaries, and notes of a writer. But can you explain our obsessions with a writer's personal objects? Why a bed? A rug? A coat?
It's because of Guérin that a draft of Swann's Way became available to us. The same goes for several versions of the last volume of In Search of Lost Time.
My book is a story about the incredible efforts of a great bibliophile. Guérin was able to save important papers that offended the bourgeois respectability of Proust’s prude sister in law. After Proust’s death, his family began to deliberately destroy and sell his notebooks, letter, manuscripts, furniture, and personal effects.
Proust's homosexuality surrounded him like an invisible and insurmountable wall. His family's unwillingness to understand this led to a history of silence that mutated into rancor. This transformed into acts of vandalism as his papers were destroyed and his furniture abandoned. Finding the coat is only the conclusion of a series of adventures and coup de théâtre that Guérin had to face. I do not want to reveal them now; you have to read the book.
Of all of Proust's objects collected by Guérin, which is your favorite? Read More »