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Posts Tagged ‘Vladimir Nabokov’

Pinning Down: A Conversation with Catrin Morgan

June 5, 2013 | by

Air dies elsewhere, graphite on paper, 10cm x 10cm

Air dies elsewhere, graphite on paper, 10 cm x 10 cm.

Catrin Morgan has a history of sticking pins through words. (Check out her ongoing project, Pinning, which was installed at the Bromley House Library.) Maybe this is her real attraction to Ben Marcus’s The Age of Wire and String, which she just illustrated for Granta’s new edition: finally, a book with text she can’t easily pin down. In graphite drawings, Morgan builds disassembled—or, nonrationally assembled—architectural objects, maps, and containers, many of which seem to act as entry points to systems with unfamiliar parameters. The illustrations define and rely on their own language, complementing the language of The Age of Wire and String nicely, self-contained discourses with overlapping vocabularies.

Your designs for The Age of Wire and String are almost all diagrams, fanciful maps or systems that have some kind of chronological or other organizational logic. Can you explain how the content and structure of the book informed your decisions here?

It seemed to me that by attempting to illustrate The Age of Wire and String directly, by illustrating very faithfully the images suggested by the text, I would close it down. What I love about The Age of Wire and String is the space it opens up in my imagination and I didn’t want my images to take that space away from new readers. In the end, the images I created aimed to respond to the tone and construction of the text and to behave in a similar way. The text subverts our expectations of familiar patterns of language, and so I created images that appear familiar but in fact are always doing something that belies their appearance, so what appears to be a map is in fact composed of sleeping figures, and a circuit diagram is based on the floor plans of a building. The images also reference directly illustrations from manuals and encyclopedias, as I felt like the deadpan tone of this kind of illustration suited perfectly the tone of the novel.

The set of illustrations I ended up with are a representation of the world that The Age of Wire and String projects within my mind, and some of them were created without planning exactly where they would go in the text. When placing them I looked for shared co-ordinates between an image and a piece of text, so that the image and text spoke to, but did not explain each other.

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Fun with Word Frequency, and Other News

May 8, 2013 | by

wordfrequency

  • See how many times a word or phrase is used in a book! Hours of … okay, maybe not fun, but hours.
  • New research suggests that there exists a family of “ultraconserved words”—including ashes, man, worm, and not—that have survived, virtually unchanged, for fifteen thousand years.
  • Amanda Knox tells the Times what she reads. Among others: Marilynne Robinson, Vladimir Nabokov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Jonathan Safran Foer, and David Foster Wallace.
  • The Harper Lee copyright fracas inspires a list of literary lawsuits.
  • “I’ve been getting death threats.” Charlaine Harris on the end of Sookie Stackhouse.
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    Indian Comics, Professor Nabokov, and Other News

    March 25, 2013 | by

    173122

    • You must begin your week by looking at this list of head-scratching moments from Indian comics. 
    • “Facing him on the stage was his white-haired wife Vera, whom he identified only as ‘my course assistant.’” In Professor Nabokov’s classroom.
    • In light of the matter of Wikipedia plagiarism, Jane Goodall’s book has been postponed.
    • The very first ad for Winnie the Pooh
    • Remembering the Warner Sisters, “America’s answer to the Brontës.”  

     

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    Our Books Lack Feelings, and Other News

    March 21, 2013 | by

    PShares-Book-Art

    • Over at Ploughshares, an interview with book artist Melissa Jay Craig.
    • Putting his money where his mouth is, so to speak, writer Tom Bissell has written a video game, Gears of War: Judgment, the fourth in a military sci-fi series. This trend has endless possibilities. (Cue Joyce Carol Oates for Xbox 360.)
    • An algorithm finds that the emotional content of books is on the decline. (Although there’s probably more sex.)
    • Conversely! “Morn shows that he was not immune to the forces that had so dramatically acted upon his father, though his own political convictions would thrive within the rococo folds of his language.” Two new books allow us to see a new, less detached side of Nabokov. 
    • Horror writer James Herbert has died, at sixty-nine. 

     

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    Nabokov Museum Vandalized, and Other News

    February 1, 2013 | by

    Lolita

  • “The common core state standards, a set of math and English goals agreed upon by forty-five states and now being implemented, sends cursive the way of the quill pen, while requiring instead that students be proficient in keyboarding by fourth grade.”
  • Libraries have gone raucous! Bring back the shush!
  • The Nabokov Museum has been vandalized by the so-called St. Petersburg Cossacks. Why? For “promoting pedophilia.”
  • Perfumes inspired by dead writers.
  • In the UK, doctors will soon be allowed to prescribe books.
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    John Jeremiah Sullivan Answers Your Questions

    August 31, 2012 | by

    This week, our Southern editor, John Jeremiah Sullivan, stepped in to address your queries.

    Dear Paris Review,

    I live in the deep south and was raised in a religious cult.

    Still with me?

    Okay. I’m attempting to throw off the shackles of my religious upbringing and become an intelligent well-informed adult. My primary source of rebellion thus far has been movies. I would watch a Fellini movie and then feel suddenly superior to my friends and family because they only watched movies in their native tongue (trust me I know how pathetic this is). My main question involves my reading selections. Obviously, I have stumbled upon your publication and am aware of its status as the primary literary periodical in English. Also, I have a brand-new subscription to the New York Review of Books, since it is apparently the intellectual center of the English-speaking universe. I am not in an M.F.A. program or living in Brooklyn working on the Great American Kindle Single, I’m just a working-class guy trying to take part in the conversation that all the smart people are having. This brings me to my question: What books should I read? There are so many books out there worth reading, that I literally don’t know where to start. To give you some background info: I was not raised as a reader and was not taught any literature in the Christian high school that I attended. What kinds of books do I like? My answer to that would be movies. I’m desperate to start some kind of grand reading plan that will educate me about the world but don’t know where to start. The classics? Which ones? Modern stuff? Should I alternate one classic with one recent book? How much should I read fiction? How much should I read nonfiction? I went to college but it was for nursing, so I have never been taught anything about reading by anybody.

    I realize this stuff may be outside of your comfort zone, as most of the advice questions seem to be from aspiring writers or college-educated people. Please believe me when I say that I am out of touch with the modern world because of a very specific religious cult. I want to be an educated, well-read, cultured, critically thinking person but need some stuff to read. Before I end this letter, I’ll provide an example of just how out of touch I am: you know how "Ms." is the non-sexist way to refer to a woman, and that "Mrs." is sexist? Yeah, I just found out about that. I’m twenty-five.

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