- Everyone loves a good international children’s-lit imbroglio, all the more so when K-pop stars enter the fray. Please note, then, that Korean pop legend IU stands accused of sexualizing the story of My Sweet Orange Tree, a Brazilian novel more than forty years old, which she recently adapted for her song “Zeze.” The book concerns a kid—yes, it’s Zeze—who gets into a lot of innocent trouble and faces corporal punishment as a consequence. But IU’s lyrics tell a different tale: “Zeze, come on up the tree quick and kiss the leaves, don’t be naughty and don’t hurt the tree, come up the tree and get the youngest leaf … you are innocent but shrewd, transparent but dirty and there is no way of knowing what’s living inside.”
- Christopher Logue was a fine poet, but I’ll always wonder what might’ve been if he’d stayed the course as an actor: “His considerable work in theatre and film as actor, playwright and screenwriter nourished the poetry, much of which was dramatic in nature … Rather pleased with his performance as Cardinal Richelieu in Ken Russell’s 1971 film The Devils, Logue boasted to the director Lindsay Anderson that he had a future as ‘the only English poet / film star.’ To which Anderson responded, sighing: ‘You will never be a star. You might become a featured player specializing in intellectual villains, artistic misfits, et cetera.’ ” (He did, it must be said, score the role of “Spaghetti-eating fanatic” in Terry Gilliam’s Jabberwocky, from 1977.)
- The great irony of psychoanalysts is that many of them, despite the depth of their insights into filial relations, were shitty parents. Reading their family memoirs is an illuminating experience, especially in the case of Franz Alexander, whose granddaughter Illonka has written a book about him: “Her grandfather declined to house her, as if, she said, he was punishing her for her mother’s choices. She wound up in a Catholic residence for girls in downtown Los Angeles. She didn’t know that she had family in San Diego, Cleveland, New York, Chicago, Madison, and Dallas. No one told her. When Franz Alexander died, in 1964, two years later, Ilonka was adrift. Although she had two half-sisters, she thought of herself as an only child … The biggest lie: Franz told everyone that he didn’t know where Ilonka’s mother’s was. He was embarrassed, Ilonka said, analyzing him.”
- Today in publishing-industry nostalgia: Remember when magazines were rolling in the dough, and when their words-to-pictures ratio was nearly one-to-one? I don’t, either. But Robert Hughes does—he was Time’s art critic for thirty-one years, and it was, he says, good: “Being the art critic of Time in the seventies was like enjoying a perpetual research grant from the most benign of foundations. I could go more or less anywhere I wanted, look at anything I wished to, and be paid generously for doing it … If there was a show in Rome or Florence, Paris or Brussels, Berlin or London, or indeed practically anywhere in Europe, a show that could be argued to hold some interest for an intelligent reader and from which two, four, or six pages of splashy color could be extracted, off I would go … When I heard some power hog from the movie industry bombing on about the truffes sous la cendre he had recently demolished at Le Park 45 during the Cannes Film Festival, I would not need to wonder what they tasted like.”
- And today in nostalgia, full stop: Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill is twenty years old, and she’s here to remind you: “I remember telling them, ‘Well, if you wanted a record that sounded like Dan Steely, then maybe you should have signed someone in their thirties, rather than me, a nineteen-year-old.’ This was met with silence, in typical form. My friend quickly leaned over and said, ‘It’s “Steely Dan,” Alanis.’ Oh, jeez. I said, ‘Well, regardless, this record represents me, and anything other than this is not a record I am interested in being a part of.’”
- Elvis Presley’s 1948 library card can be yours. At thirteen, The King checked out The Courageous Heart: A Life of Andrew Jackson For Young Readers from his high-school library.
We appreciate this peek into book psychology by one who should know, Waterstones: “Being books, and not understanding most things beyond their limited understanding, the books attribute most events to Father Christmas.”
- Adam Gopnik remembers Robert Hughes.
- Some encouraging bookstore news, for a change: on their Kickstarter page, the founders of Singularity & Co. explain that their mission is to “choose one great out of print work or classic and/or obscure sci-fi a month, track down the people that hold the copyright (if they are still around), and publish that work online and on all the major digital book platforms for little or no cost.”
- In 2013, John Banville will bring Raymond Chandler’s hard-boiled detective Philip Marlowe back from the dead under his crime-writing nom de guerre, Benjamin Black.
Late last Tuesday night, a crowd gathered in an antique circus tent, in Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square, to shelter from the rain, drink whiskey, and hear readings by Paris Review contributor Donald Antrim and Southern editor John Jeremiah Sullivan, both introduced by editor Lorin Stein. The program—The Paris Review Presents New American Writing at the Edinburgh Book Fair—received mixed reviews. One tweeter called it “bloomin’ superb.” A blogger asked, “Why can’t there be events like this in Edinburgh all the time?” One young festival volunteer, less enthusiastically, described it as “wordy.” What did she expect? “Last year when McSweeney’s came, the editor got up on stage and shaved his head.”
For some, head shaving is not an option. Instead, at the end of the night, the Paris Review delegates opened the floor to requests for advice, which were submitted on scraps of paper. Most were answered on the spot; others were tucked into a notebook and reviewed on the road, as editors Sullivan and Stein recuperated from the book fair triumph/fiasco.
Could you recommend a travel book about either Japan or Spain?
We are composing this response under deadline in the West Highlands—specifically, in the self-proclaimed “oldest pub in Scotland,” the Lachlann Inn, on the banks of Loch Lomond. As everyone knows, they didn’t have WiFi in 1734 (although they do appear to have had video poker). For this reason, we can’t answer your question in the kind of depth that American readers have come to expect from The Paris Review. We can only recommend, in Lorin’s case, Robert Hughes’s Barcelona and, in John’s case, Journey of a Thousand Miles, the famous series of travel haiku by Basho. (John would also like to recommend the Laura Veirs song “Rapture,” which is not strictly speaking a travelogue, but does include a tribute to “lovely Basho / his plunking ponds and toads.”)
Please recommend a good book for our book club. We are currently reading Jennifer Egan’s novel A Visit From the Goon Squad and have recently read such books as So Much for That, The Dice Man, Middlesex, Half of a Yellow Sun, Oryx and Crake, and Rebecca.
—Marion & Co.
When we see the title The Dice Man, we both think of the scandal-plagued comedian of our youth, the “Dice Man,” Andrew Dice Clay—and that can’t possibly be what you have in mind. Still, we are struck by the breadth of your reading. Your question has been on our minds. Yesterday we wandered into a small used bookstore at the foot of the Castle mound and both ogled a complete 1910 Robert Louis Stevenson in twenty volumes. John proposed that we donate it to your book club; Lorin found it “too rich” for The Paris Review’s “blood.” As a backup, John recommends Ghost Light, Joseph O’Connor’s fictional re-creation of John Millington Synge’s hopeless love affair with the Abbey Theatre actress Molly Allgood. And we both recommend—in the strongest possible terms—our colleague Donald Antrim’s short novel The Verficationist, about an academic meeting gone horribly wrong amid the hustle and bustle of an International House of Pancakes.