“What I didn’t know then was that these decorations evolved from the Jewish menora, the Hebrew festival of lights. I don’t think my mother knew that either, but if she did she never mentioned it. And I certainly never contemplated the resemblance of a sleigh to a cradle. A sleigh is basically a very large cradle.” Mary Ruefle on Christmas trees.
John Cage–renowned composer, music theorist, writer, artist, and Zen enthusiast–is a a veritable treasure trove of Curiosities. Here’s a video from 1973 of Cage performing his most famous piece, 4’33”, in Harvard Square. It’s hard for even the man himself to top the genius of this inspired performance, however.
Out this week: Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo; Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty; Caca Dolce by Chelsea Martin; The Surveyors by Mary Jo Salter; and The Red-Haired Woman by Orhan Pamuk. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
William Carlos Williams‘s birthday was this last week, and Adam Kirsch writes about the poet for New York Review of Books. Though he argues that “today it would be hard to find a reader of poetry who would not acknowledge William Carlos Williams as one of the major American modernists” Kirsch still has to face the question, “why is it, then, that almost fifty years after his death, the reputation of [Williams] still seems to be haunted by a ghost of uncertainty?”