Posts Tagged ‘T. S. Eliot’
February 8, 2013 | by The Paris Review
If you’re going to judge a book by its endpapers, then I recommend Julie Morstad’s The Wayside. I’ve spent a fair amount of time imagining them on the walls of the drawing room I don’t have. It helps that the rest of the book—all new drawings by the Canadian illustrator—is equal parts charming and strange. There’s definitely an Edward Gorey–esque feel to her work, but I also see occasional hints of William Pène du Bois (in a troupe of women acrobats) and Amy Cutler (in the wonderful patterned textiles). I think my favorite drawing may be a double gatefold depicting groups of flatly rendered performing-arts kids doing their thing. It’s Attic form meets Fame. —Nicole Rudick
In the early fifties, a married Cuban socialite has an epistolary romance with a dashing political prisoner. They meet for one night, and the woman bears his child. Meanwhile the young man, freed from prison, seizes command of the struggle against Batista and becomes ruler of their country. It sounds (and reads) like a novel, but Havana Dreams, Wendy Gimbel’s 1998 portrait of Naty Revuelta and her daughter Alina, is a work of intimate reportage, and the relationship of these two women to Fidel Castro takes on an uncanny symbolic weight. The book invaded my own dreams. —Lorin Stein Read More »
January 25, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
Over the weekend, I had one of those magical visits to the Strand where you find exactly the book you’re looking for: in this case, Julia Reed’s Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, and Other Southern Specialties, a collection of Reed’s food essays for the New York Times Magazine. I read it in a single sitting and came out feeling like the author was an old friend, and with a serious hankering for deviled eggs. Reed’s life sounds glamorous and fun and filled with friends, and she writes about the South’s idiosyncrasies with warmth and authority. Only, don’t try to get it at the Strand: I nabbed the only copy. —Sadie O. Stein
How does The New York Review of Books even exist? Historians will marvel that something so good could last so long. Although we may never wrest an interview from our hero Robert Silvers—who founded the Review fifty years ago with the late Barbara Epstein—others are ready to talk. Radio host Janet Coleman kicks off a series of New York Review reminiscences at their blog. —Lorin Stein
Downton Abbey has lately inspired me to read serial novels of Victorian England, allowing me to experience the same kind of long-term relationship with characters and the same range of social strata. Recently, I’ve been enjoying The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins, of which T. S. Eliot said, “Everything that is good in the modern story can be found in The Moonstone.” A Victorian mystery with a dash of Indiana Jones, far from esoteric and very accessible. —Andrew Plimpton
Romanian concert pianist Radu Lupu performed at Carnegie Hall last night. It was a lovely program, by all accounts, but the second half of the evening was truly phenomenal. Sitting in a high-backed chair and moving his body infrequently, and then only slightly, Lupu played Book II of Debussy’s Préludes with tender forcefulness. The tension between his stoic person and romantic musicality was performance enough; in some ways, the music itself seemed irrelevant, though it’s been running through my head since. There’s no recording of Lupu playing it, that I can find, but this series on YouTube features a rendition by Sviatoslav Richter. —Clare Fentress
Mad Men fans were buoyed this week by the news that season six is set to premiere April 7. I doubt that I need to convince anyone of Matthew Weiner’s brilliance at this point—but what other show would use “Meditations in an Emergency” to illustrate a character arc? References to Frank O’Hara bookend season two, even taking “Meditations in an Emergency” as the finale episode’s title. If this intrigues you, check out this blog run by Steve Brauer, a professor at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York. Especially good is this bit of criticism: “What Frank O’Hara Tells Us About Don Draper.” —Laura Creste
In Love, by Alfred Hayes, is a slim novel from 1953 that deserves to be better known. The cover of the new edition features an Elizabeth Bowen quote in which she terms the book “a little masterpiece,” and I’ve rarely seen the breakdown of a relationship, in all its banality and pettiness, evoked more vividly. It’s tough, fresh, very lovely, and will stay with you. —S.O.S.
January 18, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
January 17, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
Sharon Olds has won the T. S. Eliot prize for Stag’s Leap, a deeply personal project which she says was inspired in large part by her husband leaving her for a younger woman. The collection, which took Olds fifteen years to write, was praised by the judges as “a tremendous book of grace and gallantry which crowns the career of a world-class poet.” Olds is the first female American poet to win the Eliot prize since its founding, in 1993. Below, Olds reads from Stag’s Leap.
November 12, 2012 | by Sadie Stein
My father is inordinately fond of pointing out our place in the course of history. “Just think about it!" he would say intensely almost every morning of my childhood, as he scanned the obit pages over breakfast. “This man was born during the Taft presidency! Twice his lifetime was the Pierce presidency! It’s amazing! It’s so recent!”
I was reminded of this when I read the news that T. S. Eliot’s widow had died, this Friday, at eighty-six.
Of course, it’s not as though Valerie Eliot were some sort of secret: Eliot’s executor, she guarded her husband’s legacy since his death, periodically editing and releasing his work, fiercely guarding his privacy, allowing for the making of Cats, and using the money from that success to start a charitable trust. And considering the difference in their ages—Eliot was thirty-eight years older than his second wife, whom he married in 1957—her relative youth is no shocker either. But hers was, for the most part, a quiet and unobtrusive stewardship (she avoided interviews), and those are themselves rare things these days.
She said that their relationship was a quiet one, involving much Scrabble-playing and cheese-eating. As she said in a rare interview, “He obviously needed a happy marriage. He wouldn’t die until he’d had it.”
October 12, 2012 | by Sadie Stein
This week, Lorin and I made a whirlwind trip to Houston, where we had the chance to visit the wonderful Brazos Bookstore. While browsing their well-curated cookbook selection, my eye was caught by a volume called 101 Classic Cookbooks, curated by the Fales Library. Published by Rizzoli, it is as much an art book as a recipe primer (although there are plenty of those too, from such luminaries as Julia Child and Alice Waters). Images of antique receipt books and mid-century food art make for great cultural history. —Sadie Stein
Charles Portis is that rare literary legend too few have read—me included. When I spotted a copy of his 1979 novel, The Dog of the South, on a friend’s shelf, I knew it was time to find out if the rumors are true. They are. There’s a hopped-up futility to this tale of a man in pursuit of his wife and her lover south of the border, and when Ray’s surrender is set off against small moments of truculence, it’s comic gold. One passage in particular, of Ray trying to outrace another car in a total clunker, reminds me a bit of the pie-fight scene in Gravity’s Rainbow, which was published only six years before; though the setup is far less surreal, it’s rife with absurdity:
I’ve had enough of this, I said to myself, and I was just about ready to quit when the exhaust system or the drive shaft dropped to the highway beneath the Chrysler and began to kick up sparks. Jack was down for the day. I shot over a rise and left him with a couple honks. Harvest yellow Imperial. Like new. Loaded. One owner. See to appreciate. Extra sharp. Good rubber. A real nice car. Needs some work. Call Cherokee Bail Bonds and ask for Jack. Work odd hours. Keep calling.
Walker Percy, the National Book Award winner and Paris Review interview subject, has a delightful and underappreciated piece called “Bourbon, Neat” on a topic near and dear to my heart. Percy claims that bourbon does for him what a bite of cake did for Proust and goes on to expound an aesthetic approach to bourbon in which the chief pleasure comes from, “the little explosion of Kentucky U.S.A. sunshine in the cavity of the nasopharynx and the hot bosky bit of Tennessee summertime,” words that make this Kentuckian’s breast swell with pride. More importantly, this piece provides a ready-made, literary-minded rebuttal to accusations of alcoholism. A defense, I imagine, that might prove useful to more than a few of our readers. —Graham Rogers
I recently picked up The Open Door: One Hundred Poems, One Hundred Years of Poetry Magazine, which was released in celebration of Poetry Magazine’s centennial (thanks to Sam Fox for lending it to me!). If you need to be reminded of the incomparable poems that the magazine published first in its pages (including those of Wallace Stevens, T. S. Eliot, and Sylvia Plath), read excellent poetry by an author you might not have discovered yet, or simply remember why poetry is worth loving, this is the book to turn to. I recommend getting together with a few friends, taking turns opening to a poem at random, and reading out loud—knowing that you (and they) won’t be disappointed. —Emma Goldhammer
According to Robert Louis Stevenson in “The Secret of the Heather Ale,” the last Pictish king chose to have his son put to death and be killed himself rather than reveal the secrets of his favorite beverage to an invading Scottish army. You could try and re-create the ale that “Was sweeter far then honey, / Was stronger far than wine,” yourself this weekend by boiling five ounces of flowering heather tops (any color, although white is allegedly the luckiest) and boil in a gallon and a half of water. After an hour add seventeen pounds of honey and boil for a further half hour, before leaving the mixture to rest for another thirty minutes. Strain into a seven gallon wine fermenting bin and fill the bin to the top with cold water. Stir through one sachet of champagne yeast, skim off any foam that forms on the surface and decant into clean wine bottles. It should be ready after a week or two. —Charlotte Goldney
This week the loveable geeks over at A.V. Club published a tripartite list of the 1990s’ best films. It’s a neat little nostalgia trip on its own, populated by Tarantinos and Jarmuschs and Scorseses and such. But web-surfers were quick to point out that the skinny white dude aesthetic of the Club list-makers resulted in the absolute omission of black and female directors from this particular record of the nineties canon. Weirdly, this didn’t yield a firestorm: it produced a thoughtful discussion of the nature of institutional bias (think Linda Nochlin’s essay “Why Have Their Been No Great Women Artists” in 140-character tidbits), and the chance to reflect upon the contingency of our cultural consumption. Start at Slate if you’re interested. —Samuel Fox