The Review, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last night at Town Hall, found its niche almost immediately, and has been largely immune to the shifts in the business of cultural production and criticism, enduring for five decades and retaining its spot as the elite platform for probing, diverse cultural criticism and argument, right to the present day.
Drinking With Men is an idiosyncratic memoir coming from a woman in 2012, though it revives an old standby (paging Pete Hamill!): a compendium of sharply observed drinking stories that revolve around the usually male communities that form among bar regulars.
“Most people think of themselves, in a sense, as realists,” Galchen said, “even if they have speaking dogs in the book.” Julavits reiterated the point that authors themselves often misjudge how their work will be read. “Someone once told me they were talking to Diane Williams and she was just really surprised that people didn’t think of her in the same breath as Jane Austen,” Julavits said. “I sort of loved that as a really sweet misapprehension of what you think you’re doing versus how other people perceive what you’re doing.”(3)
“If I get into any kind of space where I’m trying to extend a narrative, or kind of accrue pages, the energy goes out,” George Saunders said at his book launch last night in Brooklyn, in response to a question about whether he will write a novel. “So I think of my stories as kind of like those little toys and you wind ’em up and put it on the floor and it goes under the couch. That’s kind of like an aesthetic model. So, I think what we have to do is petition for the definition of novel to come down a little, you know: 17 pages, that’s a good number”.(1)
Punk’s first issue—released in November 1975—featured interviews with Lou Reed and the Ramones. Holstrom contributed a salty editorial entitled: “Death to Disco Shit! Long Live the Rock!” and McNeil starred in a photo comic in which he fails to pick up girls outside CBGBs. The style—raw, messy, witty, inappropriate—nailed the essence of the burgeoning punk scene. James Wolcott, writing in the Village Voice, called Punk “the ululations of the new zeitgeist.”
"It is a sequel in that we’re looking at the life of Precious’s child, Abdul Jones, who is now an AIDS orphan," the author Sapphire said. "And it is a sequel in a sense that it continues to look at the profound and devastating effect of AIDS on the African-American community."
The editors have subtitled this volume Scandals, Tragedies and Triumphs. They’ve sorted the columns into these three categories. But many of the best of the columns can be better described as dealing with either small-town life or the violence of New York in the 1960s.
Among the eight or so tables set up throughout the second floor of the building—which is part community function-house, part information center about Brooklyn's role in the history of the Revolutionary War—there was a lot to be engrossed by: art tomes, pocket-sized poetry books, aged reference guides, religious tracts, cheesy paperbacks.
In her convincing, comforting presence, one wanted to believe that her book has indeed “been read very reductively,” as she said after the event. “It makes feminism stupid to refuse to look at peer reviewed science if you know—and just want it to go away.”
Edmund White had prepared hypothetical Shteyngart blurbs for Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies. And Mein Kampf: “Proves that left to their own devices, blondes really do have more fun,” White read.
As for body hair, the night’s other comic motif, Crosley briefly obliged Harding’s request for mockery. “The hair,” she said. “It’s sort of like his nipples are like buttons on a fur coat.”
It was like that all night. The money was flowing, the bartenders were mixing, and the readings were often very funny. But it was also so undeniably sad. “It’s a scandal that they have to have a benefit like this for social services,” cartoonist Ben Katchor said, shaking his head. “The whole thing is nuts. The people in public housing down there, they don’t even get enough social services when the sun is shining.” Katchor would later read from a few of his comics with the help of a laptop and overhead projector.
But the real story of the event seemed to be the National Book Foundation’s triumphant makeover in the face of the book industry's continued decline. Inside Cipriani, authors posed for photographs on a red carpet. Molly Ringwald and Stephen King dined on sea scallops with frisée and tomato concasse. Rumors spread that the after-party, emceed by “international hip hop artist” Rabbi Darkside, had a waiting list—though if you were already a guest at the book awards, it turned out, you could just walk upstairs at the end of the night to keep things rolling.
That deceptively simple origin story leaves out what it might mean to have your work from The New Yorker collected in a hardcover book of some 170 pages. Aside from those ten covers, Tomine has been contributing various illustrations, many for book and film reviews, since 1999. New York Drawings solidifies his status as one of the magazine’s go-to illustrators, as an artist whose aesthetic—mordantly observant, a little sad, poignantly attuned to life’s small pleasures, indignities, and absurdities, and ever-so-slightly neurotic—has become a part of The New Yorker’s visual identity in the first decade of the 21st century.
Solomon was discussing his new book, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity, with the library's director Paul Holdengräber. The new work, out today, explores how families are sometimes brought closer together despite extraordinary medical, psychological, and intellectual disparities including deafness, Down syndrome, and autism. It's a book on maturity—that of parents as well as their children. "The question is,” Solomon said at one point, “are you going to celebrate what's different about your child, or fix what's different about your child?"
“I love that we have David Bezmozgis’s stubbornly Russian essay about a Soviet weightlifter alongside Etgar Keret’s piece about a crazy Israeli soccer star next to the piece about the competitive eater from Brooklyn,” explained Franklin Foer, who, along with Marc Tracy, edited the book. “It’s this alchemy that could only come about from casting an extremely wide net and pursuing writers and letting them go off and indulge their exceedingly esoteric interests.”