No one has done the voice inside the head, ever present as we dice and chop life’s minutiae into apposite syllables— that “murmur, now precise as the headwaiter’s”—so accurately as Samuel Beckett. He remains the master of depicting mental paralysis, registering with circular syntax (there
“Predictably—and understandably— more pressing problems than saving dirt usually carry the day,” writes David R. Montgomery. But as his new book, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, details, we are losing the brown stuff far, far too quickly. Unlike maritime dead zones and radical climate change,
Ernest Jones had the urge to stand out. A small man, he learned early how to make himself visible through his bearing, his clothes, his mannerisms. And he learned how to distinguish himself—no ordinary Jones, he!—through the quality of his voice and intensity of his gaze. By the time he finished
The French writer Emmanuel Carrère wrote several novels before finding his home in the more ambiguous genre of novelistic nonfiction. His work often explores the perils of self-invention and the fraught relationship between fact and fiction.
Not unlike an advice manual about being a woman for twelve-year-old girls, Not That Kind of Girl is organized as an investigation into "feminine life." Lena Dunham has embraced this memoir—a little too fervently—as an opportunity to put a bow on her past debaucheries. She promises a better life on the other side, after you too put yourself in "jerk recovery."
How, and to what extent, clothing matters is the question at the heart of this book, which began in 2012, when Sheila Heti asked Heidi Julavits's advice, for a "little piece about women's fashion." She wanted to know whether Julavits had any "dressing or clothing rules," or a philosophy of clothes; Heti was trying, she writes, "to figure out how to dress."
In Story/Time, a collection of performance texts and lectures, the renowned choreographer Bill T. Jones describes a 1972 encounter with John Cage in tones of awe. More than the music itself, what impressed the young drama student was Cage's air of "sophisticated 'remove.'" It suggested a "world of ideas," inhabited by unassailable people who had rejected the pressure to connect and entertain.
There are two versions of Charles D'Ambrosio running through this important essay collection. First, there's literary journalist D'Ambrosio. You don't really care, reading this D'Ambrosio, how he got to be this thoughtful, conscientious, erudite, and so forth—you're just glad he did. Second, there's the D'Ambrosio who goes ahead and tells the story of how he got that way. And it turns out this is a story you want to hear after all—quite badly, in fact.
From our current vantage, it's not hard to acknowledge that one of the presiding spirits of early-twenty-first-century art is Ray Johnson's. Collagist, painter, poet, and the originator of mail art, Johnson took up the appropriative strategies of Marcel Duchamp and Jasper Johns, infused them with John Cage's ideas about Zen and chance, and energized the mix with his own brand of deadpan Conceptualism.
Genet's work might have taught the young Hervé Guibert to connect violence and desire, or maybe the wunderkind figured it out for himself. With or without tutelage, he quickly discovered how to worship a beautiful body while also wishing to despoil it.
If I chose to look at my life through a particularly self-critical lens, my personal narrative would boil down to the story of a woman who spent her entire adulthood trying to get good at something, anything. Beginning in my twenties and with no noticeable talent besides writing, I took classes in a string of leisure-time activities that I hoped would turn into something to love.
What's surprising in the photographs of August Sander is that it's not only the clothes and hair—which change most noticeably over the years—that seem solidified in the past; the faces, too, are stuck like fossils in the geology of time. People just don't look like this anymore. There are, at the risk of sounding silly, no proto-dudes or babes here.