Posts Tagged ‘The Spring Revel’
March 22, 2012 | by Louis Begley
This year our Spring Revel will take place on April 3. In anticipation of the event, the Daily is featuring a series of essays celebrating Robert Silvers, who is being honored this year with The Paris Review’s Hadada Prize.
Writers dream. They dream more than most people. Writers dream of sex, of fat advances and big sales. They dream of fame. When they get serious, they dream of being published by the ideal publisher and being edited by the ideal editor. From 1993, when he bought my first novel, Wartime Lies, until October 2002, when he died, shortly after publishing my sixth novel, Schmidt Delivered, Siegfried Unseld, the head of the German publishing house Suhrkamp Verlag, was my ideal publisher. A giant of a man, Siegfried loved books passionately and physically, the way other men can love wine. Siegfried didn’t publish books, he published authors. A writer lucky enough to be one of them could feel invulnerable: Siegfried believed in his work, and Siegfried couldn’t be wrong.
I have long been afflicted on and off by “regular contributor” envy, wishing disconsolately that in the list of writers whose names appear in The New York Review of Books my name were followed by that tag. It’s an absurd pretension, since its fulfillment would have meant upending my life and career. I suffer from it only because the ideal editor of my—and I would guess every writer’s—dreams is another giant of a man, Robert B. Silvers, the editor, brain, and heart of the NYRB. When I write a piece for his magazine, of course I have the immeasurable good luck to be edited by him. There is no experience quite like it. Bob knows everything that’s worth knowing, a consequence of his unflagging curiosity. I recall sitting next to him years ago at a Council on Foreign Relations meeting. While the energy minister of an OPEC country, the name of which I have forgotten, droned on, I stole a glance at Bob, who could no doubt recall it instantly. He was busily taking notes, in a tiny but precise scrawl. My mind was in neutral, in fact I was struggling against sleep; his was fully engaged. Later he told me that taking quick and accurate notes was a habit he’d formed soon after college, working for the Connecticut politician and diplomat Chester Bowles. It’s just one of his useful habits, along with reading everything that deserves his attention and deploying, when the occasion presents itself, a powerful crawl stroke. Read More »
December 28, 2011 | by Alexander Chee
We’re out this week, but we’re re-posting some of our favorite pieces from 2011 while we’re away. We hope you enjoy—and have a happy New Year!
When I try to write about sex, I think back to when I was just out of college and, handy with a makeup brush, took a job to make some extra money doing makeup on a gay-porn film set. On the second day, we filmed a three-way that took up most of the day. The actors struggled: one was hard, the others weren’t, then the others were and the first was not, and so on. After a few hours, the director sent us all out of the room and turned out the lights so the actors could work it out. This was before Viagra—you had to have an honest hard-on to shoot. We waited outside the dark room, the lights out, even the cameramen outside, waiting, until finally we heard the signal, and then the crew rushed back in to film. We turned on the lights.
The actors were made to pause, immediately. I had to touch them up.
They were panting, sweating like athletes. They’d rubbed off most of what I’d put on them. As they held their positions, I touched them up. I thought about how something had happened in the dark that we couldn’t see, an excitement that couldn’t be in the film. It was probably better than what we would film, more interesting.
It seems to me I am always in pursuit of that.
April 15, 2011 | by Thessaly La Force
What a week! We’re still recovering from Tuesday’s Spring Revel. Check out these dispatches of the fête in Elle, The Observer, New York Social Diary, Bloomberg, Electric Literature, and Women’s Wear Daily. And now, because it’s Friday and we can’t bear to forget, here are some more pictures of the party.
April 8, 2011 | by Rosalind Parry
In honor of James Salter month, and in lieu of This Week’s Reading, we are opening our archives to share some of the many short stories that Salter published in the Review. “Sundays” (issue 38, 1966) is a sensual, contemplative story (and part of what we all have come to know as the novel A Sport and a Pastime). Every setting is intimate and quiet and seems to belong entirely to the couple at the center of the story: the bed they awake in, the lake they dip their faces in, the pines they picnic in, the cafe they take shelter in, and the bed to which they return:
They put their clothes on behind the car. No one else is around. Near to shore the surface of the water is broken by weeds. The leather seats are hot, and when Dean starts the engine small birds skim out ofthe grass and out across the lake.
They eat in Montsauche in a little auberge. Sunday. Everything is hushed. Dean sits looking out at the street. It’s a silent meal. Afterwards there is nothing to do. He feels as if he is taking care of a child. He is thinking of other things. The day seems long. They drive—Dean takes the top down and they head towards Nevers, the wind curving in, the sun on their backs. He begins to grow sleepy. They pull off the road.
They sit down under the trees. Pines. It’s very quiet. The dry cones click in the breeze. The shadow of branches is laid across their faces. Dean closes his eyes. He is almost asleep.
“Phillipe,” he hears her say.
“I would like to make love in the woods sometime.”
“You’ve never done that?”
“Strange,” he says.
He lies. “Yes.”
“I have never. Is it nice?”
“Yes,” he says. It’s the last thing he remembers.
March 30, 2011 | by Doree Shafrir
Our Spring Revel is on April 12. In anticipation of the event, The Daily is featuring a series of essays celebrating James Salter, who is being honored this year with The Paris Review’s Hadada Prize. If you’re interested in purchasing tickets to the Revel, click here.
Walter Such, the man at the center of James Salter’s short story “Last Night,” which was first published in The New Yorker in 2002, is a particular, exacting man. He is a translator who, Salter writes, “could recite lines of Blok in Russian and then give Rilke’s translation of them in German, pointing out their beauty.” He has a stutter; he and his wife, Marit, have no children; he uses a pen “almost as if his hand were a mechanical device.” He is an unremarkable bourgeois intellectual; as a translator, he has spent his life reinterpreting and reworking the literary output of others.
The story hinges on what is literally the last night of Marit’s life. She is terminally ill with cancer, and she and Walter are about to go out for the final dinner of Marit’s existence, after which they will come home and Walter will inject Marit with a lethal drug cocktail that will kill her. “You look re-really nice,” Walter stutters to Marit when she comes downstairs in a red silk dress “in which she had always been seductive.” Here is a man who still thinks his wife, who is about to die, looks beautiful, and at this moment, Walter is overwhelmingly sympathetic. But it's sympathy tinged with guilt, because Walter is a pathetic man.
The Such’s have invited their younger friend along for the meal: Susanna, who is wearing a short skirt and whom Salter describes as looking like the “slightly errant daughter of a professor or banker.” At dinner, Walter orders two bottles of $575 Cheval-Blanc, a splurge. “We don’t usually order wine this good,” says Merit. They have never ordered a bottle that cost more than $35.
The mood at the meal is not grim, despite the fact that Marit already seems half dead: “her skin, pallid, seemed to emanate a darkness … She had a face that was now for the afterlife and those she would meet there.” Susanna feels uncomfortable, and Marit dimly perceives their differences: “Susanna’s long hair and freshness meant something, though she was not sure what.” After the meal, back at home, Walter is almost unable to do the deed; he cringes at the sight of the sharp syringe in the refrigerator. Who would have the strength or presence of mind to do what he is about to do? Who could kill their most beloved, even if it were because they were in unmitigated pain?