Drawings from a Prisoner of War, and Other News


On the Shelf


Frederick Gokliz, Warfare, ca. 1890s. Image via Slate/Newberry Library

  • Mark von Schlegell talks about the paperback revolution and its undoing in the nineties: “I was temping at Ballantine Books in New York … My boss got copies of all the first mass-market editions of Philip K. Dick … She gave them to me free. The books I got were all $1.99 and $2.50 paperbacks in a stack. I read them all in a row, and it opened a door for me. Then they started republishing them, and now they’re $20 each. When those books were $2.50, they had a different meaning … In the paperback revolution, the mainstream was created on a literary base, because if you were Stevie Wonder and made a great album, or if you were some twentieth-century movie star like Clark Gable, or a director like Hitchcock, you always had a paperback book coming out as part of your deal. Paperback books connected everything. They were like the sea of the mainstream, and they had a richness because they were books, unlike all these other artifacts floating around. They had a deeper historical life to live.”
  • Walter Pater’s The Renaissance is one of the cornerstones of Renaissance scholarship, a Victorian-era classic that everyone knows, one of those old tomes so essential that copies of it flood used bookstores throughout the land—except, does anyone really care about it anymore? “I can’t think of a single thing written in the last thirty years that felt the need either to denounce or to celebrate Pater’s account of the Renaissance … Perhaps Pater seemed so unthreatening or so bland that he just slipped out of Renaissance scholarly time … does Pater tell you anything about the Renaissance? Does his account of aestheticism help understand the period?”
  • Helen Phillips’s The Beautiful Bureaucrat is the latest addition to that increasingly relevant subgenre, the office novel: its heroine, Josephine, has a job in data entry. “Josephine’s work steadily chips away at her identity: it is a trudge against time, and its tedium subsumes her. Even when her mind meanders, ‘the moment would pass and the thought would be lost, trapped forever between the horizontal and vertical lines of the Database.’”
  • “Chicago’s Newberry Library has digitized a series of ink and watercolor drawings of Apache life made in the 1890s by Frederick Gokliz. Gokliz, a San Carlos Apache, was first imprisoned along with a group of Chiricahua Apaches at Fort Marion, in Florida, in 1886 … Gokliz’s work eschews much representation of life in captivity in favor of remembered and imagined episodes of community life. His drawings depict hunts, meetings, and ceremonies, using perspective in interesting ways to show motion and conflict.”
  • Don’t feel like reading? I can’t blame you—it’s a Friday in August, and you have the option of watching Lauren Conrad desecrate books in the name of storage. To the dulcet tones of an acoustic guitar, Conrad shreds, rips, and otherwise dismembers works of prose to create … a box, with the “spines of several books glued to one side of it, making it look, to the untrained eye, like a line of books rather than a unique storage space.”