When mass demonstrations began erupting throughout the towns and cities of Egypt three years ago, there seemed to be no author more inappropriate to the moment than the late Albert Cossery. A legendary advocate of idleness and enervation, his writing felt totally at odds with the energy and euphoria of the protests on Tahrir Square. “Reading his novels amid the exhilaration of the uprising, Cossery seemed irrelevant or, happily, wrong,” reflects Anna Della Subin, who found herself in Cairo that
I thought he was a genius, i.e. we hated many of the same people.” — Chris Kraus, Aliens & Anorexia For many years, I imagined aliens landing nearby and extending an offer to go home with them, where I belong. I still do. I would scarcely miss this so-called world which, having failed to notice my existence, would little note my absence. Many people, I suspect, have had such feelings. So many, in fact, that one begins to wonder if this world of ours has already been populated by aliens. What
The authors insist that the sexual revolution must have been error[,] for so many women are still imperfectly happy; witness how they suffer from ‘conflicts,’ from ‘problems.’ -Kate Millet, 1970 On October 12, feminist author and activist Kate Millett will be inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, NY. The town, which hosted the 1848 convention marking the start of the American movement for women’s rights, is the home of the feminist First Wave—from our vantage, a
The perfect encapsulation of Galaxie 500 appears rather late in Temperature’s Rising, a brief but intriguing scrapbook and oral history about the band. A college classmate of theirs explains, “Their album covers made a statement. Cool Restraint. Educated. Upper Class. Lots of Social Contacts.” This frames them in a way few musicians would aspire to be framed. From one perspective, it could even be taken as a devastating bon mot. First of all it’s about their album art, not their music. Second,
On entering a major Nigerian city, you’re likely to encounter some aged signage that welcomes you to the city and encourages you to enjoy yourself. For example, in Calabar, the welcome sign reads, “Welcome to Calabar. Come And Live And Be At Rest.” But in Lagos—Nigeria’s most populous city and its former capital—you get simply, “This Is Lagos.” The subtext is clear: This is a no-nonsense city. Lagos will not coddle you or gush mushy endearments. A common expression here is “shine your eyes,”
Whenever I sit down to write about a place that’s become very familiar, my first impulse is to imagine it in the strangest way possible. I try to take in its mood, faces, and streets as if for the first time, and then give them a darker, more obscure, slant. For my new novel Asunder, I aimed to do this above all for the sections set in Paris, a city I’ve been visiting since childhood. This time I went to the city in search of the old “drafts and currents” that still blow through the streets,
Learning Cairo’s thousand-year history was a requirement at my alma mater, and it was usually taught with a resigned sigh, as if to admit, Al-Qahirah, “the city victorious” had always seen better days. Our professors at the American University of Cairo all seemed to mourn a place we would never know—a city of glamour and glory. But the secret of Cairo is that every generation mourns its brighter days, though in truth, more things stay the same than ever change. This might be why every few decades,
Jun 18 2013

The Riot Grrrl Collection

Lisa Darms, Johanna Fateman, Kathleen Hanna, and Sheila Heti

The 1990s punk feminist movement Riot Grrrl has had a resurgence in recent years, in books such as Sara Marcus’s Girls to the Front (Harper Perennial, 2010), films like The Punk Singer, and the establishment of the Riot Grrrl Collection at NYU’s Fales library. The Feminist Press has just published The Riot Grrrl Collection, which presents vivid reproductions of zines, flyers, and other works from the Fales archives. Editor and archivist Lisa Darms recently sat down with The Riot Grrrl Collection
Aesthetics is, at its best and at its origins, a form of hunting. Not only a hunt for the beautiful and the sublime, but also for the ensnarement and identification of subtle experiences, ambivalent impressions, and novel sensations. If beauty and truth represent the big game—the promise of freedom, happiness, and peace on earth—the minor aesthetic categories are smaller, but still significant, quarry. Even in the eighteenth century, in the writing of Edmund Burke and Richard Payne Knight,
Joel Dicker, a 27-year-old Swiss novelist, is the talk of the town in his native city of Geneva. Dicker’s second book, La Vérité sur l’affaire Harry Quebert (ed. Fallois/l’Age d’Homme, Sept. 2012) has won three major literary prizes, including the novelist’s award from the Académie française, and was long-listed last year for France’s Prix Goncourt. At the Frankfurt Book Fair last fall, Harry Quebert was a sensation: one observer compared the buzz surrounding the book to that of Stieg Larsson’s