What We’re Loving: Lawyers and Criminals


This Week’s Reading

Albertine Sarrazin

Albertine Sarrazin

In spring of 1971 the New York Times got hold of a top-secret, seven-thousand-page history of the Vietnam War. When the Times ran a series based on the Pentagon Papers, it sparked one of the biggest First Amendment battles of the last century. Leading the Times’s defense was the young lawyer James Goodale. In his new memoir, Fighting for the Press, Goodale gives a fascinating blow-by-blow account of the legal arguments, personal rivalries, and inspired teamwork behind that famous defense, which started from the principle that there is nothing inherently illegal about publishing classified information. “My philosophy as a publishing lawyer,” Goodale writes, “was that anything could be published. I had always found that if you took a word out here and there, shifted a paragraph here and there, anything was possible.” In later years, Goodale worked his way up to become house counsel for The Paris Review: we look forward to volume two. —Lorin Stein

When Albertine Sarrazin’s L’astragale was published in 1965, the autobiographical novel, about a young woman who escapes reform school and embarks on a life of prostitution and petty crime, became an overnight sensation. The fact that the glamorous, enigmatic author died at the height of her fame, at only twenty-nine, has only added to the book’s mystique. In her introduction to a fresh edition from New Directions, Patti Smith describes the book as her youthful talisman and Sarrazin as “my guide through the nights of one hundred sleeps.” I think it is a book to read when you are young; in some ways I am too old to have just discovered it. But even knowing this, I reveled in its entertaining, gritty weirdness. It bears mentioning, too, that the translator is Patsy Southgate, writer and fellow traveler of the Paris Review. —Sadie Stein

I’ve been spending this week with The Mirador, Élisabeth Gille’s engrossing account of the life of her mother, the writer Irène Némirovsky. When Gille was five years old, in 1942, Némirovsky, along with Gille’s father, was taken from the family’s home in France to Auschwitz. Neither parent returned. The Mirador is told in Némirovsky’s voice, narrating her beginnings as the only child of a wealthy Jewish couple in Kiev up through her later life and eventual arrest. The scraps of Némirovsky’s biography are stitched together with imagined anecdotes, chronologies, and emotions to create a shimmering and tender remembrance of a life cut short. —Clare Fentress

I had previously read Jonathan Rosenbaum’s excellent essay on Sátántangó (both László Krasznahorkai’s novel and Béla Tarr’s radical film adaptation) online, so I was excited to finally get my hands on Music & Literature’s second issue—and it doesn’t disappoint. Featuring, for the first time in English, an extensive selection of Krasznahorkai’s fiction and art criticism, along with collaborator Max Neumann’s haunting artwork and set stills from Tarr’s film, it is a celebration of Krasznahorkai’s apocalyptic world, one the issue begs you to further explore. —Justin Alvarez

The Believer’s tenth-anniversary edition is a trove of good reading, but I especially enjoyed Paul La Farge’s “Noise-Canceling Headphones.” By examining Charles Marville’s 1852 photographs of Paris—a city that would soon give way to Haussmann’s boulevards—and Kafka’s The Burrow, La Farge employs mid-nineteenth-century Paris as a kind of portal into the anxieties surrounding the modern novel. (Yes, there are some headphones in there, too.) —Olivia Walton