Summer of '38

Questa settimana ci imbattiamo spesso in Colm Tóibín, e con grande piacere. Molto bello il suo racconto, "Summer of '38" sul New Yorker: rivela nel suo modo chiaro, pacato e come pudico un lato profondo e inusuale del rapporto uomo/donna/figli. In un'intervista l'autore dice:
Montse’s eldest child, Rosa, is the product of her affair. Why does Paco, her husband, who is not Rosa’s father, always seem to love this child better than his own, even though he is laughed at by the townspeople for doing so?
Paco is the hero of the story. He knows what he wants. He wants to be married to Montse. He has no pride. He wants her. He is sure about that. If it weren’t for Rosa, he knows, he would not have Montse. He is grateful to the child for giving him the happy domesticity he wanted. newyorker.


Proust alla Morgan Library

La Morgan Library di New York celebra i 100 anni dalla pubblicazione di La strada di Swan con una mostra di taccuini, foto e altri documenti della Bibliothèque nationale de France.
Colm Tóibín coglie l'occasione per fare delle considerazioni interessanti su Marcel e sua mamma e le conseguenze che il loro rapporto hanno sulla scrittura di Marcel. "A specter haunts the exhibition of Proust’s notebooks, manuscripts, and correspondence currently running at the Morgan Library. It is the specter of Proust’s mother. As you move from left to right in the room, the photograph of maman with her two sons, which appears first, sends a shiver down your spine. ... 
The first letter sets the scene. It is written to Marcel from his mother in 1895 when he is twenty-four and in Dieppe with Reynaldo Hahn. She is concerned about what time he goes to bed and what time he rises. Her letter is a demand for precise information. So she writes Couche and leaves a blank for him to fill in and then Leve and leaves another blank. Perhaps it is too fanciful to suggest that when he did begin to explain himself in his long novel, started a few years after his mother’s death, he had the lovely idea that his mother, by dying, had left an enormous blank for him to fill in. She wanted all the details, she wanted to be spared nothing as she sat on her chair in heaven, her eyes cast down, and he would do anything to please her. nybooks.


See Now Then

See Now Then è il titolo del nuovo libro di Jamaica Kincaid, uscito in questi giorni per Farrar, Straus e Giroux. "See Now Then is about the failing marriage between a writer and a composer living in a small New England village. The writer, Mrs. Sweet, is black and from the Caribbean, and her husband, Mr. Sweet, is white and comes from a princely faction of New York “entitled to doormen, no matter what.” The book’s premise appears to be borrowed from Kincaid’s own life: In 2002, her 20-year marriage to the composer Allen Shawn ended in divorce. Kincaid continues to live in the Bennington home they shared". tabletmag.


Anti-Semitism and Anti-Judaism

David Nirenberg, Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition (Norton).
"What is the difference, then, between anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism? The answer, as it unfolds in Nirenberg’s scholarly tour de force, could be summarized this way: Anti-Semitism needs actual Jews to persecute; anti-Judaism can flourish perfectly well without them, since its target is not a group of people but an idea". Adam Kirsch, tabletmag.


The Tricky Art of Writing about Dreams

Della necessità di introdurre dei sogni in un romanzo parla Nicholson Baker,
"I used to think that it was a bad thing to mention dreams in fiction. ... But I rejected that notion ages ago. Dreams are part of the truth of life and the job of a book is to feel its way forward through a character’s days and nights. ... 

The letter O is a good dream letter. It begins the word “oneiric,” which is a dark interesting sharp-edged word that college professors used to use in class in place of “dreamlike.” nybooks.


The Tricky Art of Writing about Love

Egan ed Eugenides
Benjamin Nugent riflette su come alcuni scrittori riescano a parlare d'amore, evitando di essere zuccherosi. "A number of my favorite novels of the last decade ... get away with great warmth — courtship stories that aren’t so different from Hollywood romantic comedies, stories that flirt with cheesiness, triviality, sentimentalism — by using a particular cold vocabulary, the vocabulary of theory. The novels include Leaving the Atocha Station, by Ben Lerner, The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides, A Visit From the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan, Indecision, by Benjamin Kunkel, and The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach..."

Per es. in The Marriage Plot di Eugenides, "... theory provides the language that enables the lovers to communicate". salon.


The Upper East Side Cookbook

The Upper East Side Cookbook series, a set of faux memoirs (and recipes), was launched in 2009 with the publication of “The Upper East Side Cookbook: Setting the Table in a Time of Slender Means.” That volume was followed, in 2011, by “The Upper East Side Cookbook: Main Course”; the third and most recent volume, “Parsley Does Thyme,” was released last month. The series chronicles the progress of its heroine, the chef Parsley Cresswell, through the worlds of fashion journalism and high-end kitchens, but more particularly the series is a beautiful demonstration of both the ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit required by New York freelance life, and the kind of eccentric undertaking that electronic self-publishing makes possible. newyorker.


The Tricky Art of Writing about Sex

Della difficile arte di scrivere di sesso scrive Sam Lipsyte, e dice tra l'altro, "The conventional wisdom says that less is more, and I generally agree ...
Sometimes, though, you have to face the multi-spined beast head on. Be brave, and trust in your love of language and your love of sex. (Or lack of it.) Trust in the modern gods who guide your hand: Sad and Funny. Like it or not, these are the twin poles for most of our tiny thoughts and doings. Sad and Funny are both the world and how we withstand it. newrepublic.


Miti sulla grammatica

You’ve probably heard the old story about the pedant who dared to tinker with Winston Churchill’s writing because the great man had ended a sentence with a preposition. Churchill’s scribbled response: “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.”
It’s a great story, but it’s a myth. And so is that so-called grammar rule about ending sentences with prepositions. ...
Where did these phony rules originate, and why do they persist?
For some of them, we can blame misguided Latinists who tried to impose the rules of their favorite language on English. smithsonianmag.


How to Not Write Bad

How to Not Write Bad è il titolo di un bel libro sulla scrittura di Ben Yagoda, professore di giornalismo alla University of Delaware (Riverhead Trade). Il sottotitolo spiega bene di che cosa si tratta, "the most common writing problems and the best way to avoid them".
"I found much to be grateful for in the Yagoda. I learned the term “epicene pronoun,” meaning the genderless plural “they” or “their” when its antecedent calls for the singular (and gendered) “he or she” or “his or hers”, dice Mary Norris sul newyorker.


Is Writing Torture?

Pare che lo sia stato, per Philip Roth, che ha consigliato a Julian Tepper, il giovane autore di Balls, che lo serviva in un deli dell'Upper West Side, di smettere di scrivere. “I would quit while you’re ahead. Really. It’s an awful field. Just torture. Awful. You write and you write, and you have to throw almost all of it away because it’s not any good. I would say just stop now. You don’t want to do this to yourself. That’s my advice to you.” Gli ha detto Roth, e ha scatenato una polemica. newyorker.


L'ultimo libro di Sendak

L'ultimo libro di Maurice Sendak, My Brother's Book (HarperCollins), è uscito postumo lo scorso 5 febbraio. E' dedicato al fratello, Jack, morto nel 1995, scrittore per bambini e collaboratore di Maurice, e a Eugene Glynn, morto nel 2007, psicoanlista e compagno dello scrittore. Bruce Handy, di Vanity Fair, dice: "Is it possible for someone as beloved and as habitually honored as Maurice Sendak to be, at the same time, under-appreciated? His final book, the posthumous, just-published My Brother’s Book (available February 5th), makes me think yes. It’s not his best work, but what is? That’s the “curse” of having written and illustrated Where the Wild Things Are when you were 35 and In the Night Kitchen when you were 42 and then living to be 83. But My Brother’s Book is a perfect coda to a singular career, a lovely and moving distillation. It’s also, as the title implies, Sendak’s most overtly personal book. It’s the work of a man facing loss and death who still had deep reservoirs of craft, imagination, and feeling from which to draw. It’s the work not of a great children’s author and illustrator but of a great writer and artist, period". vanityfair.


Dr. Seuss’s many hats

Random House Children's Books and Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced today the launch of the Hats Off to Dr. Seuss! campaign at the famed 42nd Street branch of the New York Public Library in New York City. Inspired by the 75th anniversary of The 500 Hats of  Bartholomew Cubbins [il primo libro del Dr. Seuss], the yearlong celebration salutes the breadth of Dr. Seuss's work, not only the remarkable library of children's books he created, but also the span of his incredible career and legacy as a man who wore many hats: as an ad man, a political cartoonist, filmmaker, and a fine artist, to name a few. To celebrate this partnership there will be a brand new exhibit featuring Dr. Seuss's personal hats which have left his legendary, secret "hat closet" for the first time. The exhibit will be on display in The New York Public Library's Children's Center at 42nd Street through February 11.


Ancora sui 50 anni della NYRB

Martedì scorso alla Town Hall di New York si è svolta una grande festa in onore dei cinquant'anni della New York Review of Books. Vi hanno partecipato molti dei più famosi collaboratori, come John Banville, Mary Beard, Michael Chabon, Mark Danner, Joan Didion (nella foto), Daniel Mendelsohn, Darryl Pinckney, e Robert B. Silvers, il fondatore insieme a Barbara Epstein. nyt.


Scorsese e la NYRB

Questa settimana a New York si sono svolti vari party in onore del cinquantenario della New York Review of Books. Pare che Scorsese sia interessato alla storia della rivista per un prossimo film/documentario.
"On Monday evening, at a small private party commemorating the magazine’s 50th anniversary, held in its Greenwich Village offices, Mr. Scorsese, accompanied by a film crew of about a half dozen, interviewed various current and former writers and dropped boom mikes into clusters of casual cocktail chat. A crew will also be filming an event at Town Hall on Tuesday night featuring Joan Didion, Michael Chabon, Daniel Mendelsohn, John Banville and other longtime contributors, as well as the magazine’s editor and co-founder, Robert Silvers". nyt.


Street Life

Sul New Yorker di questa settimana c'è un pezzo inedito di Joseph Mitchell, uno dei grandi scrittori dello staff della rivista, morto nel 1996. Mitchell è noto per i suoi profili della gente della città. Vagare per la città era una delle cose che amava di più fare e questo articolo è un'ode alle strade di New York. “I frequently spend an entire day riding on New York City buses, getting off at junction points and changing from one line to another as the notion strikes me and gradually criss-crossing whatever part of the city I happen to be in. I might ride in a dozen or fifteen or twenty different buses during the day.”
Purtroppo l'articolo non è disponibile ai non abbonati alla rivista. Se ne può leggere comunque uno stralcio cliccando qui.


Sulla traduzione

Un bell'articolo di Tim Parks sulla traduzione e in particolare sulla difficoltà di rendere il suono e il ritmo dell'originale, oltre al senso. 
"Another way of approaching the question of what is different about translation, might be to look at a text where the usual relation between semantics and acoustic effects is radically altered. Everybody knows the opening of Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky”:
‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Here is a heroic Italian version by Milli Graffi: 
Era cerfuoso e i viviscidi tuoppi,
Ghiarivan foracchiando nel pedano
Stavano tutti mifri i vilosnuoppi,
Mentre squoltian i momi radi invano. nybooks.


Bob Silvers e la NYRB

Emily Stokes, del Financial Times, intervista Bob Silvers, fondatore ed editor della New York Review of Books, che quest'anno compie 50 anni. "As an editor working at a literary magazine, I find Silvers’ work ethic inspiring, if hard to mimic; he is in the office seven days a week, often until midnight, where he keeps a bed in a cupboard. He edits every piece in the NYRB himself. Contributors speak of his long polite memos revealing an encyclopedic knowledge of even the most obscure subjects, as well as a disregard for normal working hours; many have stories of receiving clippings and queries from “Bob” in the middle of the night or as they sit down to Christmas lunch". ft.


On Memory

Oliver Sacks parla del funzionamento della memoria e dello scrivere memoriali. "In 1993, approaching my sixtieth birthday, I started to experience a curious phenomenon—the spontaneous, unsolicited rising of early memories into my mind, memories that had lain dormant for upward of fifty years. Not merely memories, but frames of mind, thoughts, atmospheres, and passions associated with them—memories, especially, of my boyhood in London before World War II. Moved by these, I wrote two short memoirs ... I think a more general autobiographical impulse was stimulated, rather than sated, by these brief writings, and late in 1997, I launched on a three-year project of writing a memoir of my boyhood, which I published in 2001 as Uncle Tungsten. ... I accepted that I must have forgotten or lost a great deal, but assumed that the memories I did have—especially those that were very vivid, concrete, and circumstantial—were essentially valid and reliable; and it was a shock to me when I found that some of them were not". nybooks.


Stephen King sulle armi

Stephen King parla della violenza in America e del possesso di armi in un breve saggio (25 pagine), Guns, che Amazon definisce "intimate and moving", e che esce in edizione Kindle al costo di 1.32 dollari. I proventi andranno alla Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. amazon.