The novelist Charles Jackson may not be as well known as the subjects of Blake Bailey’s previous biographies, Richard Yates and John Cheever—the latter book, Cheever: A Life, won Mr. Bailey the National Book Critics Circle Award—but he is no less fascinating. In Farther and Wilder: The Lost Weekends and Literary Dreams of Charles Jackson, Mr. Bailey portrays his life with the same dogged attention to detail, literary panache and brilliant storytelling that he brought to those other subjects.
In the kind of grand-scale symbolism achievable only in this great city of ours, ordinary folks throughout Manhattan might have surmised from the Empire State Building being gussied up in blue, with red and white on the tippy-top (cop car, siren), that the swells who support the New York City Police Foundation were putting on Read More
Any novel of literary rivalry has Martin Amis’s vicious comic tour de force The Information to contend with. So for its own good, let’s not call The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards (Viking, 272 pp., $26.95), Kristopher Jansma’s debut novel, a novel of literary rivalry. Let’s call it a coming-of-age novel in which both the protagonist Read More
In Karen Russell’s debut novel Swamplandia! (2011), loss propels the story forward. The book, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, follows a family that runs an alligator-wrestling theme park on an island in the Florida Everglades. Mostly narrated by Ava, a 13-year-old girl who has spent her whole life in the park, Swamplandia! is about the interplay of fantasy—Ava’s older sister quite believably elopes with a ghost—and being grounded in cold reality: the death of the family matriarch, the park’s star performer, holds the story together while unraveling the family at its center.
Picking up on the more hallucinatory thread of her novel and running with it in her second collection of short stories, Vampires in the Lemon Grove (Knopf, 256 pp., $24.95), Ms. Russell proves herself to be a master of magical realism. Here she introduces us to a vampire couple who suck on lemons to soothe their aching fangs, girls transformed into silkworms, a flock of seagulls that steal objects from the future, dead presidents reincarnated as horses, Antarctic tailgating and a tattoo that comes to life. Read More
It’s too late to buy gifts, you say. Hanukkah is over, and Christmas is so close, I’ll have to use my skills at martial arts to fend off the other last minute shoppers, and the last time I did that I sprained an ankle attempting my “signature kick” and also got a concussion from a Read More
A social event for a matchmaker on the day after Valentine’s Day struck Transom as having more than a slight whiff of desperation about it. Or was it hopefulness? We were expecting a shout of “Next year in…”—well, where is it that prototypically happy couples go, anyhow?
Happy coupledom, to us, has always read as shorthand for “excuse to stay home on couch in pajamas reading novels.” These thoughts were with us as we entered the Upper East Side restaurant Amali. Amali had been described in the invite as “farm-to-table,” which got us thinking metaphorically. Ah, the farm. No matchmaking required there—jump cut to grunts and flying mud. Pity the poor humans and their tables, over which banter must be made.
We’d always wanted to meet a matchmaker, and no sooner had we picked out Richard Easton as the dark-suited fellow with round, owlish glasses, than we employed a strategy that, back in our single days, had helped us to meet men: we made a bee line for him, cornered him, and started asking questions. Read More
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the rightful owner of Paul Cezanne’s 1891 Portrait of Madame Cezanne and does not have to turn the painting over to the heir of its original owner, the District Court in Manhattan found late last week.
Thursday’s decision granted the Met’s motion to dismiss the suit brought by Pierre Read More
A few years ago Karl Haendel wrote down a list of questions he had always wanted to ask his father. For most of us, this would constitute an idle, possibly self-indulgent, possibly cathartic exercise, maybe one assigned as homework in psychotherapy—and would most likely result in a scrap of paper destined for the circular file. But Mr. Haendel is an artist, and for him it became a large drawing called, appropriately, Questions for My Father. He showed it in 2007 at his New York gallery, Harris Lieberman, and then, in 2010, at the Guggenheim Museum. Read More
Museum of Arts and Design
Oct. 12, 2011 – Jan. 15, 2012
Lest we forget that, as Tom Wolfe so eloquently put it once, this is the “museum formerly known as craft,” the place is putting on a mammoth exhibition devoted to craft, specifically to the relationship between it and design after WWII. This is a fascinating proposal because while craft slowly became a four-letter word during that period, design became uber-fashionable, to the point where, today, it sells to the same crowd that buys Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons, and constantly prompts questions like, “Is it design, or is it art?” But forget the concept. Go for the pieces. The show, which is organized by MAD curators Jeannine Falino and Jennifer Scanlan, who are continuing a series of exhibitions presented at the museum in the 1990s, includes stunning pieces by George Nakashima, Isamu Noguchi and many, many others. Read More
When you’re sitting inside Alex Katz’s studio, a spacious, light-filled fifth-floor loft on West Broadway, it’s easy to forget the bustling streets below.
What you might expect to read next is that the 84-year-old painter, whose bald pate and sinewy build lend him a monk-like aspect, who has lived and worked in this space since 1968, when Soho was an industrial slum—before the artists arrived, before the galleries moved in, and before retail forced them all out—leads an isolated life, toiling away at his canvases, far above the fray, immune to any sense of competition.
Not so. Read More