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Posts Tagged ‘Lorin Stein’

Boule de Suif

August 5, 2014 | by

Boule_de_Suif 

Let’s talk about Guy de Maupassant, because he was born today in 1850 and because—why not? He’s Guy de Maupassant. As our own Lorin Stein wrote in 2010,

In a career that spanned barely a decade—the 1880s and early 1890s—Maupassant produced some 300 stories, 200 articles, three travel books, a collection of poems, three plays, and six novels, and the bulk of this production was consumed with the pursuit of illicit sex. His specialty was the conte leste, a kind of bawdy comic story we have very little of in English after Chaucer (think Boccaccio or The Arabian Nights). Maupassant modernized this tradition, testing the boundaries of what was permissible even in the Paris tabloids, where many of his stories first appeared. He was the best-selling writer of his generation.

Maupassant’s early story “Boule de Suif,” from 1880, remains a hallmark and a natural starting point. It’s about a prostitute whose refrain, like Bartleby’s, is that she would prefer not to—in this case, a Prussian officer asks repeatedly for the pleasure of her intimate company, and she invariably denies him. Unlike Bartleby, though, Boule de Suif must eventually give in, not by any defect of will but because of peer pressure.

This Prussian guy, you see, has detained her and several of her countrymen at a local inn. He’ll only allow the group to leave if Boule de Suif (or “Dumpling,” should that translation suit you, or “Butterball,” or most literally “Ball of Fat”) surrenders to his advances. And so her fellow travelers, all of whom disdain her for her occupation, find themselves begging her to succumb. Read More »

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Daymares, and Other News

June 12, 2014 | by

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Arthur Tress, Child Buried in Sand, Coney Island, 196o, black-and-white photograph. Via Gothamist.

  • Charles Wright will be America’s next poet laureate. “I really don’t know what I’m supposed to do … But as soon as I find out, I’ll do it.”
  • Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch is the literary novel of the moment—but it is any good? Many, including our own Lorin Stein, respond with a resounding no. “A book like The Goldfinch doesn’t undo any clichés—it deals in them … Nowadays, even The New York Times Book Review is afraid to say when a popular book is crap.”
  • Every moment of serious reading has to be fought for, planned for … A prediction: the novel of elegant, highly distinct prose, of conceptual delicacy and syntactical complexity, will tend to divide itself up into shorter and shorter sections, offering more frequent pauses where we can take time out. The larger popular novel … will be ever more laden with repetitive formulas, and coercive, declamatory rhetoric to make it easier and easier, after breaks, to pick up.”
  • A portfolio of Arthur Tress’s photographs, from the late sixties and seventies, of children at play in Coney Island: “Tress spoke with children about their dreams—often nightmares that involved falling, monsters, that buried alive scenario—and would then photograph them experiencing it in a safe, staged setting.”
  • New! From the makers of “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” it’s “Morrissey Has an Infection.”

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Tonight: Jenny Offill in Conversation with Lorin Stein

February 24, 2014 | by

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This evening at seven, join us at McNally Jackson, where our editor, Lorin Stein, will be in conversation with Jenny Offill. Jenny’s excellent new novel, Dept. of Speculation, is out now; Vanity Fair calls it “a startling feat of storytelling—an intense and witty meditation on motherhood, infidelity, and identity, each line a dazzling, perfectly chiseled arrowhead aimed at your heart.” (I hasten to assure you that no arrows, perfectly chiseled or otherwise, will be aimed at anyone at tonight’s reading.)

Jenny’s name should sound familiar: her story “Magic and Dread,” an excerpt from the novel, appears in our Winter issue. If her name doesn’t ring a bell, it probably means you haven’t read our Winter issue—get on that!

 

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Attention, Angelenos: We Are in Your Fair City

February 20, 2014 | by

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Photo: John Taylor

As New York’s brutal winter wends its way onward, ever onward, two among us have had the good sense to go West: our John Jeremiah Sullivan and Lorin Stein have absconded to LA, which reliable sources indicate is sunny, balmy, and unspeakably pleasant. The two of them are probably, at this very moment, tooling around in a slick late-model convertible and soaking up rays, the reflection of the Hollywood sign visible in the lenses of their Wayfarers.

But they have a job to do: tonight, at 7:30 P.M., Sullivan will give a reading as part of the Hammer Museum’s Some Favorite Writers series, where he’ll be joined by Stein. The event is free, and given how wonderful it must feel to be in Los Angeles, you can expect both gentlemen to be in top form. Go!

 

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Tonight: Elif Batuman and Gary Shteyngart at 92Y

February 3, 2014 | by

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Join us this evening at 92Y, where, snow be damned, Gary Shteyngart and Elif Batuman will take the stage to read from their latest work. They’ll be introduced by Sloane Crosley and our very own Lorin Stein, respectively. The night begins at 8:15; those unable (or unwilling) to face the slush can watch a free livecast here. (If last night’s Super Bowl was any indication, it will be much better than whatever’s on TV.)

 

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The Ghost of Christmas Past

December 9, 2013 | by

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This Saturday marks the fourth iteration of what is becoming a beloved holiday tradition: the marathon reading of A Christmas Carol at the Housing Works Bookstore. From one to four P.M., a series of readers—including Jami Attenberg, Saeed Jones, Téa Obreht, and our very own Lorin Stein—will read aloud the classic tale of Christmas redemption. Caroling starts at noon!

 

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