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Posts Tagged ‘Vanity Fair’

Thackeray Gets Grotesque

October 27, 2014 | by

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When William Makepeace Thackeray died, near the end of 1863, he left behind a formidable library in a mansion he’d only recently designed, erected, and occupied. A few months later, his home was dismantled and his books were put to auction. On the flyleaves and margins, their new owners discovered a wealth of Thackeray’s sketches, some in pencil and others in pen and ink.

Thackeray’s talents as an artist were no secret—he’d contributed illustrations to many of his own novels, including Vanity Fair—but few were aware of the extent of his doodling habit. More than ten years later, in 1875, the art collector Joseph Grego published Thackerayana, an assemblage of more than six hundred of Thackeray’s drawings with extracts of the books in which he’d drawn them. (Grego, perhaps fearing the consequences of his blatant copyright infringement, presented the collection anonymously.)

What surprises most about the sketches in Thackerayana is their range—Thackeray was an adept caricaturist, but these drawings find him equally at home in more high-flown styles. As his source material moved him, he could do landscapes and portraiture, the irreverent and the solemn, the macabre, the surreal, the juvenile. It’s these last three qualities, in particular, that caught my eye; with Halloween around the corner, it seems as good a time as any to present a portfolio of Thackeray at his most imaginatively unhinged. He had a thing for combat, for instance, and for men with hideously bulbous noses. Here, then, are a series of Thackerayana’s more unsettling entries. Read More »

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Even the Losers

July 25, 2014 | by

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A drone—yes, really—photographed the action at our game against New York. Photo: Alon Sicherman, Center for the Study of the Drone

Even the losers
Keep a little bit of pride
—Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

About a month ago, when I last wrote about The Paris Review’s softball team, I called us “damn fine.” “The Parisians are on something of a hot streak,” I had the gall to say, noting that we’d “met with defeat only once, at the hands of The Nation.”

Then July happened.

Reader, you gaze upon the words of a broken man. (Specifically a broken right fielder.) Today, that “damn fine” is inflected with callow hubris; that “hot streak” runs lukewarm. After three more games—against Vanity Fair, New York, and n+1—our season is over, and our win-loss record is a measly 4-4.

Scorecard-(2014-05-22)

When we were good: the scorecard of this season’s first game, against DC Comics.

The close of yesterday’s game found us supine on the Astroturf, wondering: What happened back there? That’s for history to decide, or the trolls in the comments section. Whatever the case, our early, easy victories against the likes of The New Yorker and Harper’s now seem like distant memories.

The trouble started with our game against Vanity Fair, whose chic black-on-black uniforms belied their brutish athleticism. (And their trash talking: “Don’t just tweet about it,” shouted their third-base coach, “be about it.”) They eked out a 5-4 victory; I ate some of their pizza in recompense. Our spirits were still high enough, at that point, for a group photo: Read More »

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Swinging for the Fences

July 1, 2014 | by

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The Paris Review’s Hailey Gates, Stephen Andrew Hiltner, and Clare Fentress at the game against The New Yorker last week.

A certain literary quarterly graced Page Six this morning, and it’s not because we’re in rehab or recently posed nude or hosted a tony, freewheeling charity dinner in Sagaponack—though we aspire to do those things, ideally all at once.

No, it’s because we have a damn fine softball team.

Fact is, The Paris Review Parisians are on something of a hot streak; in our five games this season, we’ve met with defeat only once, at the hands of The Nation. And we play a good clean game: no pine tar, no corked bats, no steroids (unless you count the occasional can of Bud Light). We believe, like Susan Sarandon in Bull Durham, in the Church of Baseball. It was only a matter of time until we attracted the attention of the gossip rags. Says the Post of our game against Harper’s last week,

“A string of ‘Parisian’ homers” put eight more runs on the board … the “mercy rule” was invoked—meaning nobody kept count … A spy said of The Paris Review’s crew that also pummeled The New Yorker two days earlier: “Their team was so good-looking and so coordinated, I could hardly believe any of them actually knew how to read. Let alone know what to do with a semicolon.”

The print version of the piece puts an even finer point on it: “Literary sluggers in rout,” its headline says.

In just a few hours, the Parisians—now well acquainted with the art of being vain—take on Vanity Fair, itself no stranger to Page Six. What’s at stake is more than just bragging rights: it’s what John Updike called, in “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu,” “the tissue-thin difference between a thing done well and a thing done ill.”

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TPR vs. Vanity Fair: The Sense of an Ending (With Pictures!)

July 26, 2012 | by

Team    |1|2|3|4|5|6|7   Total
TPR     |1|0|0|1|3|2|0     7
VF      |3|0|1|0|0|1|1     6

Last Tuesday marked the end of this summer’s softball season, and The Paris Review went out in style, coming from behind to take a spirited contest from arch nemesis (one of many, surely) Vanity Fair. It was a contentious affair, bookended by two controversial calls: a play at home plate in the first, and a play at first in the bottom half of the seventh. Due to superior oratory skills (and truth), the former went our way, resulting in a TPR run; due to the notion that a team cannot possibly be right twice in the same game, the latter went to Vanity Fair. (It ultimately only provided a brief respite from the inevitable.) Between the spats were many cheers, a few tears, and a lengthy discussion on the virtues of run-on sentences (decidedly none at all).

Instead of prattling on, I now present a gallery of photos, taken and curated by TPR’s own Alyssa Loh.

Before I go, a quick note to my teammates: Hell of a season. I’ll see you when I see you.

The Paris Review: fashionable on the field and off.


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Staff Picks: ‘Proud Beggars,’ A Brilliant Invalid

December 2, 2011 | by

The New York Review just reissued Alice James, Jean Strouse’s 1980 biography of a brilliant invalid—Henry and William’s sister—whose brave wit shone through depression, physical paralysis, and the constraints of being a female James. Alice is not the only one who comes to life in Strouse’s book; they all do, and the love and loneliness in that family can move you to tears. —Lorin Stein

Albert Cossery was an Egyptian novelist who lived for more than sixty years in the Hôtel La Louisiane in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. He never held a job (he refused to get out of bed before noon), and each of his seven novels is a hymn to laziness. Two new translations of Cossery will be published this month: Proud Beggars, a metaphysical whodunit set in a whorehouse, and The Colors of Infamy, about real estate, blackmail, and life in a Cairene cemetery. Both are treats. —Robyn Creswell

I was in France for a week after Thanksgiving and had the chance to go to some terrific exhibitions, one of the best of which, at the Grand Palais, was on Gertrude Stein and her family and managed to replicate their collection. (The fact that it was called “L’Adventure des Stein” didn’t hurt—and, yes, I took a picture in front of the sign!) Of everything there, my favorite piece was a small Matisse still life of some nasturtiums. And when I looked at the wall text, I saw it was on loan from the Brooklyn Museum. I’m sure there’s some cliché in there about traveling across the ocean to find the treasure in your own backyard. —Sadie Stein

In a superb piece for Vanity Fair last June, Christopher Hitchens relates how he used to open his writing classes with the cheering maxim that anyone who could talk could write (of course he would then ask his students how many of them could really talk). The anecdote is telling: the experience of encountering his latest essay collection, Arguably, is less one of reading and more one of sitting down to a long and intimate dinner with the man himself. Over the course of over a hundred pieces, Hitchens’s fierce intellect ranges from the authors of the Constitution to illicit blowjobs in public toilets to the case for humanitarian intervention in totalitarian states. The wit shimmers, and when the talk turns serious, though you may not always agree with the man, he, like the best interlocutors, will demand you know why and have the courage of your convictions. —Peter Conroy Read More »

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TPR vs. Vanity Fair: Literary Softball Bullshit

June 30, 2011 | by

Team    |1|2|3|4|5|6|7|8  Total

VF      |0|1|0|0|0|1|1|1   4
TPR     |2|1|0|0|0|0|0|0   3

There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just come out with it: yesterday we lost to Vanity Fair in softball. I know, I know—we’re embarrassed, we’re heartbroken, and to say that we were demoralized after the game is an understatement. (Oh, how we wept!) If life were a sports movie, this would be the game right before our turnaround, the low point that brings us back together, spurring us on to greatness. Our grizzled coach would make a passionate speech, and our distracted star player would wake up and dedicate himself to the team. Cut to the montage where we hit home runs and laugh at our practical jokes, topped off by a spinning newspaper with a headline like: “TPR ONLY ONE GAME OUT OF FIRST!” This isn’t a movie though, and thinking about those Vanity Fair hooligans pouring champagne all over each other after the game kept me awake last night, and probably will for weeks.

It started off well enough: after two innings we were up three to one, and it seemed like the rest of the game would be a walk in the park or a day at the beach or a peach on a beach or something like that. I started thinking about what I would write, certain I would preface it with “Not to be mean, but Vanity Fair really isn’t good at softball.” What hubris. From the third inning on, our bats were silent, our mitts were loose, and before you could say “Siddhartha Finch” we were in extra innings. After holding us at no runs in the top half of the eighth, they scored the winning run on a sharp single into right field. C’est la vie.

In the end, we let our—dare I say vanity?—get the best of us. We also let their third baseman—a big bald guy wearing jorts (jean shorts) and drinking a Coors Light—get the best of us when he told us to quit with our “literary softball bullshit.” He reminded me of my seventh grade gym teacher. He might actually have been my seventh grade gym teacher.

In a game like this there aren’t many highlights, but it would seem like adding salt to the wound if I failed to mention a spectacular catch by our right fielder Karen “The Franchise” Maine and the equally spectacular pitching performance by Devin “Meal Ticket” McIntyre. Meal Ticket, we should have pulled you an inning earlier; this loss isn’t on you, so don’t beat yourself up. You two surely can hold your heads high; the rest of us can remind ourselves that even though we lost, our mothers still love us.

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