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Posts Tagged ‘New Yorker’

Rare Beasts, Birds, and the Calaboose

September 22, 2016 | by

A brief history of London’s Tower Menagerie.

royal-menagerie

Royal Menagerie, 1812.

It was New Year’s Eve 1764, and John Wesley—founding father of Methodism, horseback proselytizer, teetotaler—stood before the structure now known as the Tower of London, accompanied by a flautist, who was, in turn, accompanied by his flute. Wesley had traveled to this sprawling complex in the hope of testing a hypothesis. Could music soothe the most savage of beasts? If it did, Wesley might clear up a burning theological ambiguity—the question of whether nonhuman animals had souls. With his contracted companion in tow, he marched through the tower, determined to find some big cats and to smother them with song.

Zoos, as we know them today, did not exist in Wesley’s lifetime—the zoological garden is a distinctly modern phenomenon. Even the London Zoo, one of the oldest “scientific” outdoor sites for animal rehoming, opened six decades after his tower trip. If Wesley wished to glean the spirituality of lions firsthand, the infamous citadel, all arched cages and grilles, was his best bet in England. (Spoiler: the reaction to a live flute performance was mostly lukewarm—only one out of five lions stirred and stood up on all fours—not quite what our preacher had been hankering for.)

For those unfamiliar with the capricious usage history of the Tower of London, it might be hard to imagine parts of the site used as a full-blown menagerie—one that lasted about six hundred years. But through its almost thousand-year history, the place has morphed like a sort of Room of Requirement, having served variously as a palace, a public-record office, an armory, a torture chamber, a private ground for beheadings, and the Royal Mint. Its most recent incarnation is as a magnet for jewel-ogling, cash-happy tourists. Today the tower’s official website reflects this diversity—it includes a Peasants’ Revolt Quiz (“Are you revolting?”), details on venue hire for weddings, and an e-shop peddling miniature armor and replica Lionheart shields. Read More »

Wrestling with the Angel of Language, and Other News

September 2, 2016 | by

Alexander Louis Leloir, Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, 1865, oil on canvas.

Alexandre Louis Leloir, Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, 1865, oil on canvas.

Father Daniel Berrigan: Poet, Priest, Prophet

August 29, 2016 | by

What We’re Loving: Oology, Impostors, Sweden

July 26, 2013 | by

Lord Walter Rothschild, founder of England’s Natural History Museum at Tring, home of the world’s largest bird-egg collection, in his zebra-drawn carriage.

Lord Walter Rothschild, founder of England’s Natural History Museum at Tring, home of the world’s largest bird-egg collection.

Julian Rubinstein’s “Operation Easter,” in last week’s New Yorker, has been my breakfast reading and dinner conversation most of this week. Concerned with the obsession for collecting birds’ eggs—a mania that dates back almost to the mid-nineteenth century—the article relates lurid tales of collectors falling off cliffs in pursuit of nests, hiding amassed collections in secret compartments in their beds, and donning guises to steal eggs from a museum (the party in question pinched ten thousand eggs in some three years). When investigators from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds apprehend a suspect in his apartment, the man tells them, “Thank God you’ve come … I can’t stop.” With investigators jumping into cars, busting down doors, and engaging in two-day island-wide manhunts, this article reads more than a little like a thriller. I’d love to see Gary Oldman in a starring role when it hits the big screen. —Nicole Rudick

I can’t help seconding Sadie’s recommendation of In Love, a novella by Alfred Hayes that has just been reissued by New York Review Classics. The story of a casual love affair that becomes serious as soon it starts to fall apart, In Love harks back to a classic French tradition—what you might call the Novel of Disillusionment—perfected over a century by Constant, Flaubert, Turgenev, and Proust, among others. At the same time, in its use of one-sided dialogue, its film noir sensibility, and its evocation of New York life, this 1953 masterpiece also seems utterly modern—a culmination and a book utterly at home in its moment. —Lorin Stein

This month I had a particularly blue moment. I returned to an old favorite, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye , and then immediately afterward read Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, a book that had been recommended to me several times by fellow students and professors alike. It would be difficult for me to state, with confidence, what exactly Bluets is about. The book-length essay is written in vignettes, each numbered and varying in length. Nelson begins with a captivating proposition: “Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color.” Something that began as “[a]n appreciation, an affinity” became something “more serious” and then “it became somehow personal.” I drifted easily into Nelson’s world of blue, in which she seamlessly strings together personal narratives, quotes, and facts, each poignant sketch its own bluish jewel. —Jo Stewart Read More »

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Urban Renewal: An Interview with Adrian Tomine

October 29, 2012 | by

In “Missed Connection,” Adrian Tomine’s now-famous New Yorker cover illustration, a boy and a girl spot each other through the windows of subway cars headed in opposite directions. They’re both reading the same book—potentially perfect for each other, they’re destined not to meet. The image sums up what makes city life frustrating but also thrilling: the possibility of romance around every corner, the sense of isolation in a crowd, the higher-than-usual incidence of bookish hotties. Tomine began contributing crisp, colorful artwork to the magazine in 1999 and has continued to produce covers that often gently send up urban reading habits. The newly released New York Drawings collects the entirety of Tomine’s New Yorker work, along with his illustrations for other periodicals, book jackets, and album covers.

But commercial illustration is only one part of Tomine’s career. The thirty-eight-year-old artist began publishing comics as a teenager. His stories of young misfits and malcontents, serialized in his semiregular comic book, Optic Nerve, have been collected in book form as Sleepwalk and Other Stories, Summer Blonde, and a full-length graphic novel, Shortcomings. His short, funny, loose autobiographical comic strips pop up throughout his books; last year’s Scenes from an Impending Marriage narrated Tomine’s wedding preparations in the style of classic newspaper funnies.

A West Coast native, Tomine moved to Brooklyn eight years ago. We met one evening at a pastry shop near his home in Park Slope.

It seems obvious that by now your New Yorker work has given you more visibility than your comics. How do you feel about that?

It definitely reaches a broader audience. At this point there are a lot of people who know me through The New Yorker and have no idea about the comics I do. I guess that shouldn’t be surprising to me. I’ve separated the two jobs in my mind quite a bit, and that’s been useful. I’m sometimes a cartoonist and there’s an audience for that, and I’m sometimes an illustrator and there’s an audience for that.

But there must be some relationship between the two.

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TPR Softball: Failure’s No Success at All

July 5, 2012 | by

Somewhere a Hadada quietly weeps.

It’s been a rough two weeks on the diamond for The Paris Review, culminating in an extra-inning loss to a venerable (cough) Harper’s side—a loss that had the ghost of George Plimpton clucking in disapproval. As the calendar flips to July and a once promising season slowly turns to shit, it has become apparent that we are simply not to be trusted. The talent is there, but it’s mercurial, slave to whim and whimsy. As a team we’ve adapted an identity that is generously enigmatic: although capable of lighting up any softball scoreboard in greater Manhattan, lately it seems that we are just trying to get our jerseys on.

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