It was not just the suddenness of his death that made it hard to realize Louis Kahn was gone. Something about the way he disappeared from the world—irregularly, mysteriously, with that strange two-day gap when nobody he knew could find him—left many people unable to take in the facts of his death. For the California relatives, who learned about Lou’s death through a series of relayed phone calls, there was a persistent confusion about where and how he had died. Decades later, Kahn’s niece,
That summer I would ride my bike over the bridge, lock it up in front of one of the bars on Orchard Street and drift through the city on foot, recording. People and places. Sidewalk smokers, lovers’ quarrels, drug deals. I wanted to store the world and play it back just as I’d found it, without change or addition. I collected audio of thunderstorms, music coming out of cars, the subway trains rumbling underfoot; it was all reality, a quality I had lately begun to crave, as if I were deficient in
Mar 22 2017

The Walk

Deb Olin Unferth

The idea was to go for a walk: the baby in a stroller, the child by the hand, the path straight and scenic, the weather warm and breezy, the family fine and in good humor. But the dog got too hot and lay panting on the ground, and they'd forgotten again to bring the water. The baby (Kryptonite, they called her) was in one of her moods, weeping on and off, refusing to sit in the stroller, tugging off her hat and throwing it into the dirt, so that they had to stop every few yards, retrieve the
Novelist, poet, and translator Harry Mathews died on January 25 of this year. Born in New York City in 1930, he studied music at Harvard, and after moving to France in the '50s, started writing fiction, publishing his first novel, The Conversions, in 1962. His capacity for literary invention seemed limitless, writing works full of eccentric twists, puzzles, and James-ian eloquence. He became the only American member of the Oulipo, a group that included Raymond Quenuau and other avant-garde
Feb 1 2017

The Officers' Club

Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

The first time I ran away I must have been seven, soon after the victory. In early June I spent several days in the wild. I didn't sleep in Strukovsky Garden: around there, all the usable spots had been defiled; through the cracks in the band shell I could see feces and mold. But I did find a spot—in the director's office at the Officers' Club. Along with other kids, I had learned long since to get in past the guards of the Officers' Club to watch movies and learned to collect bread crumbs from
The idea of an autocratic regime ruling America has long been a preoccupation of alternate-history enthusiasts and sci-fi authors. With Donald Trump now in office, those fictions suddenly seem all too real. (The Republican National Convention, at which Trump bellowed "I am your voice," and insisted that he alone can fix the nation's problems, was like a scary set piece from a dystopian novel.) In 2015, Amazon began streaming a slick TV adaptation of one of this genre's best books, Philip K. Dick's
Dec 14 2016

On Intimate Geometries: The Art and Life of Louise Bourgeois by Robert Storr

Christopher Lyon, Linda Norden, Martha Schwendener, Léa Vuong, and Robert Storr

Christopher Lyon: First I'd like to say something about the book we're here to discuss. This 828-page tome on the art and life of Louise Bourgeois, who was born in 1911 and died in 2010, is the product of some thirty years of work on Robert Storr's part. It comprehensively surveys Bourgeois's career as an artist, which spanned nearly seventy-five years, with more than nine hundred illustrations. Chapters relating Bourgeois's life and analyzing her creative achievement alternate with portfolios,
Sep 8 2016

Elephants in Lake Charles

Arlie Russell Hochschild

"YOU CAN TELL I'm a Republican," Janice Areno says as she invites me to sit down in her office. Elephants fill three shelves of a wall opposite her desk. One is blue-and-white porcelain, a second is gold, a third is red, white, and blue and stands near a young child's drawing of a yellow one. One is shaped into a teapot. Another holds an American flag. There are large elephants and small, wooden and glass. There are elephants standing and elephants trotting. Next to her awards for outstanding
Advice is so much more enjoyable to give than it is to receive that its long flourishing as a genre—from the conduct books and periodicals of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to the current plethora of columns, livechats, and podcasts—could seem mysterious. Of course, watching other people being told what to do might be the most fun of all, which surely helps account for the enduring appeal of the advice column, and explains why living online seems only to enhance that appeal. Yet the
Among the mysteries of the strange animals that appear in A Ted Hughes Bestiary—a compilation edited by poet Alice Oswald of his writing about animals real and invented—is how often these creatures strike me as anything but strange. Taking one of his great plunges into the waterways—those “legendary” depths “deep as England”—he encounters an otter with a “round head like a tomcat,” or a pike with its “sag belly and the grin it was born with,” or a trout “Lifting its head in a shawl of water,” or
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