2011 is the year of television’s oral history. On the heels of Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, published last May and reviewed by n+1 here, you can now check out I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution. You can whet your appetite with an excerpt here. If television’s not your thing, you can also check out New York Magazine‘s oral history of the Upright Citizens Brigade, and of the founding of Ms. magazine.
“These were not like other poems: within their consistent 16-line armature they were turbulent, mad, feverish, cryptic, an unruly union of boppy jive-talk, and thorny quasi-Elizabethan diction. It was impossible to tell who was speaking, or to whom; poems ended in mid-syllable, bristled with random phrases in foreign languages, sported menacing-looking accent marks and Shakespearean contractions, were riddled with ampersands and ellipses.” At The Rumpus, a memory of falling in love with The Dream Songs (which happens to nicely complement a piece we published back in April).
“Russia's most celebrated writers - including Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Nabokov, Bulgakov, Solzhenitsyn and Mandelstam - are often depicted as solitary geniuses. But many of their works were the fruits of creative partnerships with their wives. Far from being passive typists, they served as editors, researchers, translators, publishers and more.”
"When watching [Abbas] Kiarostami films, one also has a great sense of another kind of freedom not found in Hollywood movies, nor in most European art films: freedom from the creeping realization that a film we are watching was made by a cynical shit or a self-deluded megalomaniac." Here's something you don't see every day -- an essay that begins with an Independence Day showing of The Purge: Election Year, and somehow ends up at a poetic examination of Kiarostami's artistic legacy.
In The Nation, Mark Oppenheimer reviews Janet Malcolm’s Forty-one False Starts, which includes the New Yorker staff writer’s early works of criticism. The problem, he writes, with her and most Western critics? “She is a snob, but wishes she weren’t.” (ICYMI: we published a review a few weeks ago.)