Vile Days is a thick, 596-page hardback to be read first from the index, where the names rain down like manna. The contents list is obtuse, by design. But read it straight through, as I just have, and I think that you will find that he came to … Read the rest
Fitzcarraldo Editions. You’ve seen their books about. The deep blue covers with the white text; just title and author. Or the cream white covers with blue text; just title and author. The same design for each release. Super collectable, in fact – some bookstores line them up all in a row on special shelves.
Fitzcarraldo entered the literary scene with a seismic earthquake, shaking up the slumbering ‘big’ publishers and showing them exactly what happens when you take serious risks. They threw their weight behind European fiction in translation, great works in English, and illuminating non-fiction releasing books such as Mathias Enard’s one sentence novel Zone, Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich’s Second Hand Time and Olga Tokarczuk’s international Man Booker award-winning Flights. Reading … Read the rest
Joshua Rivkin’s Chalk: The Art and Erasure of Cy Twomblyis an account of the artist that begins and ends with poetry. The book opens with a haunting scene of near-drowning at North Carolina’s Black Mountain College: Robert Rauschenberg emerging from the dark waters of a mountain lake on the arm of his friend, fellow artist and lover, Cy Twombly. It’s a kind of birth story, or re-birth, dripping with mythic portents — Black Mountain being at least as much the birthplace of American modernism as New York City. Rivkin, a poet himself, closes Twombly’s life by recounting the death of Keats, who also died in Rome and is buried there.
This Woman’s Work, by cartoonist Julie Delporte and published by Drawn & Quarterly, seems unassuming at first. It creeps up on you with its wistful tone, delicate colored pencil drawings, and reflections on the limitations of being a woman.
Gradually, the tone becomes more potent and more personal. Delporte tackles sexual assault, including her own. Pencilled images of young children and blood accompany a brief description of her cousin violating her, in her first experience of sex. She calls it her family’s story but also, heartbreakingly, “the story of all women.”
The text, like the illustrations, is in hand-drawn colored pencil. And Delporte finds expressive potential in … Read the rest
An Unfinished Encyclopedia of Scale Figures without Architecture drew my eye from across the room. The book, published by MIT Press, is a block of rainbow iridescence, punctuated by a few alphabetical navigation tabs common to the encyclopedic format. Where my eye goes, my interest is apt to follow. But immediately, the book presents us with a paradox. The promise of the encyclopedia — upon which many a Britannica set was sold to hardworking consumers — is that it contains all there is to know about a given subject. And yet this encyclopedia admits, up front, to its incompleteness. Hey, no judgment here, for to be incomplete … Read the rest
There’s a lot to be said about art writing: much of it, in its current mainstream iteration oscillates between faux-lowbrow listicles and convoluted connoisseurship, both fail to provide enough information to readers. There are exceptions, though, for instance, the illustrious Marina Warner, who has for many years taken a different approach in writing.
In her latestanthology Forms of Enchantment: Writings on Art and Artists, historian and mythographer Marina Warner shows us a third way: a lengthy introduction the author argues in favor of art writing that should be “as dynamic as the work itself,” and the way she does that is … Read the rest
Can a director of animated films be considered an auteur?The two designations might seem at odds: the former often produces action-packed and crowd-pleasing scenes while the latter is stereotyped as a creator of obscure works, praised by critics but ignored by the general public.
Hayao Miyazaki, however, appears to be both. In Miyazakiworld: A Life in Art, Susan Napier, a professor at Tufts University focused on Japanese culture, eloquently defines Miyazaki as an auteur who creates immersive animated realms that vary from film to film but are joined by a consistent (albeit evolving) worldview and tropes. This is the Miyazakiworld, where characters do not shy away from showcasing their … Read the rest
The phrase “the resignation” can mean different things — for instance, something politicians and others are often forced to do when they grow too old, corrupt, or villainous to productively carry out their jobs. Amid the flurry of recent male apologies in film and TV, politics, art, literature, and poetry, and as more toxic behavior by male public figures is exposed, Lonely Christopher has said he is interested in language as unaccountable and nutritionless, in his words, “speeches that mean next to nothing.” With his latest collection, The Resignation (Roof Books, 2018), the poet plays around in this hollowed-out form — empty vocabulary, bankrupt signs, theatrical platitudes — and transforms it through glitchy translations into something that posits “… deposition, giving … Read the rest
Spell is Ann Lauterbach’s tenth book of poetry. On the front cover is a silhouette of a crow’s head, which William Kentridge has drawn on a page from a dictionary, using a brush loaded with dense black ink. By bringing image and word into inseparable proximity, Kentridge’s drawing calls up the question: what is the relation between word and thing?
Visually, the crow’s silhouette sits between the title above and the author’s name below, with the profile of their hand-drawn letters echoing stencils and typeface. Turn the book over and you see that the crow extends to the back cover. In fact, you could say that the front cover (crow’s head) is figurative and the back cover (crow’s tail feathers) is abstract. … Read the rest