Rothbart recounts these stories with a speedy, heart-on-the-sleeve soulfulness that perfectly complements the intensity and openness with which he appears to live his life. Every other page has a laugh-out-loud moment, and each essay contains at least one bizarre plot twist. It’s rare that such a fast and loose character—especially one as fond of pot and alcohol as Rothbart is also capable of the stillness and introspection required to write long, lucid, and penetrating personal essays. "As far as the essays in this book go," he said, "I’ve been publishing people’s private photographs and thoughts for ten years now, so I felt it was only fair that I open myself in the same way."(1)
“I’ve never seen a human being look at paintings longer than Siri,” Auster told the Strand Books audience proudly. He recalled a time at the Prado museum when Hustvedt examined Francisco de Goya’s painting The Third of May for hours. She stared at it for so long, in fact, that she even managed to make art history. “I saw this foggy but present image of a—probably Goya’s face—in the canvas itself,” Hustvedt explained to the audience. “I wrote about it, and it turned out that this had never been seen before…. What’s most important isn’t that I found this face. It’s that most people—and so many people working in art, this is all they do—don’t actually look all that deeply at the paintings.”
Rebecca Walker, no stranger to controversy, talks about her latest book, on the coolness of blackness
“We’re at a moment where there’s this discourse of post-racial America,” Walker told me. “There’s a real resistance to things that are moving in the other direction. So it was a big thing for me to do a book that asserted a claim to blackness or to a specific racial narrative.” Walker said she doesn’t intend for Black Cool to be definitive, explaining that it’s largely a book about aesthetics.