Our Spring Revel was Tuesday. Did you miss it? Don’t worry: we had the foresight to bring a photographer. Read More
My first girlfriend grew up in Saint Louis and, as a young girl, would sneak over to Chuck Berry’s house and sit by his guitar-shaped swimming pool. There were always a few little blonde nymphets lounging by his pool, and if you were clever, you could get there by slipping around one of the hedges—you never had to go near the main house, which was, so I hear, out of bounds. But the pool was open, and this would’ve been in the late sixties, back when his songs were part of our national currency but no longer on the radio: before “My Ding-a-Ling” became a number one record, swelling his bank account but degrading his currency precipitously, turning a national treasure into a dirty joke. Imagine if the Beatles’ biggest hit was “Octopus’s Garden.” It’s worse than that.
- I went to a party this weekend. It was boring. People talked about books all night, and no one threw a punch—or even a low kick to the shins. I wanted to stand on a chair and yell, People, people, we’ve got important work to do! Our forebears would be disappointed in us! In a new profile, Norman Podhoretz, the eighty-seven-year-old former editor of Commentary, sets an example when he remembers the adversarial literary culture of yore. Podhoretz tells John Leland: “It was a really passionate intellectual life. It’s hard to imagine today, but people actually came to blows over literary disagreements … In the case of The Adventures of Augie March, I was the one who nearly came to blows … [After my review,] Bellow wouldn’t speak to me for years. It was only when he decided he couldn’t stand Alfred Kazin anymore that we became sort of friendly. We were sitting together in a meeting, Saul and I, and Kazin was over there, and he said, ‘Look at him, he looks like he just ate a pastrami sandwich out of a stained brown piece of paper’ … John Berryman, who was a friend of Bellow’s, came up to me—I didn’t know who he was, this drunken guy—and he said, ‘We’ll get you for that review if it takes ten years.’ I was twenty-three years old. I go, What?”
- Alex Abramovich, eulogizing the late Chuck Berry, remembers his way with words: “Smart and systematic, he plugged every possible variable into the equations at hand and wrote anthems that were reverse engineered to appeal to rock and roll’s core constituency of disaffected teenagers. The songs were ‘intended to have a wide scope of interest to the general public rather than a rare or particular incidental occurrence that would entreat the memory of only a few’, Berry said. But the lyrics were fine-grained and cinematic … Berry is celebrated for his neologisms: ‘botherations’ and ‘coolerators’ (in ‘Memphis, Tennessee,’ tears are ‘hurry home drops’). But his images and similes are just as impressive, and his sense of control is startling: when Berry shouts to the city bus driver—‘Hey conductor, you must … slow down!’—the song slows with him.”
We’re delighted to announce that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Americanah is the winner of the first-ever One Book, One New York program.
This February, the mayor’s office invited New Yorkers to pick a book they’d like the city to read together: the other finalists were Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Online and at kiosks in the subway, readers throughout the city cast some fifty thousand votes.
In the months to come, Americanah will feature in a series of free events throughout the city. As part of these proceedings, on May 11, The Paris Review will open our doors for a salon in Adichie’s honor at our loft. Watch this space; we’ll share more details about the event as soon as they’re available. In the meantime, we congratulate Adichie, and look forward to seeing Americanah on the subway and buses and park benches, on rooftops and fire escapes, in libraries and bars and coffee shops and the DMV—and everywhere else New Yorkers read.
It recently occurred to me that there is one aspect of parties I actively dread. It’s not the socializing. It’s not the dressing up—although it’s true I am not burdened by talent in the hair or makeup department, and begrudge the expense.
What makes my heart sink is the thought of all that obligatory mutual admiration: “You look beautiful.” “You look great.” Hoping to be the first to get it in; not wanting to sound forced, yet absolutely compelled to join in the ritual. Read More
The Malian photographer Malick Sidibé’s latest exhibition opens tonight at Jack Shainman Gallery. Sidibé, who’s seventy-nine or eighty, lives in Bamako, where he’s worked as a photographer since the fifties; he’s known for his vivacious black-and-white studies of the city’s youth culture. “You go to someone’s wedding, someone’s christening,” he told LensCulture in 2008, speaking of the renown he gained as a party photographer:
I was lucky enough at that time to be the intellectual young photographer with a small camera who could move around. The early photographers like Seydou Keïta worked with plate cameras and were not able to get out and use a flash. So I was much in demand by the local youth. Everywhere … in town, everywhere! Whenever there was a dance, I was invited … At night, from midnight to four A.M. or six A.M., I went from one party to another. I could go to four different parties. If there were only two, it was like having a rest. But if there were four, you couldn’t miss any. If you were given four invitations, you had to go. You couldn’t miss them. I’d leave one place, I’d take thirty-six shots here, thirty-six shots there, and then thirty-six somewhere else, until the morning.
His new show spans the whole of his career; it’s up through April 23. Read More