Leanne Shapton spoke with the New York Observer about drawing, writing, friendship, competitive athletes, and her new book Swimming Studies, which has been excerpted by The Paris Review Daily, and, of course, reviewed here on the The Millions.
Part Into the Wild, part Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Howard Axelrod’s The Point of Vanishing is the story of his two years spent in profound solitude in the Vermont wilderness. Called “torture” by prison rights activists and “a threat to mental stability” by psychologists, Axelrod’s decision to sequester himself from society was nothing if not extreme. Alexander Supertramp would be proud.
“Every story I have ever told has a kind of breach to it, I think. You could say that my writing isn’t quite right. That all the beginnings have endings in them.” Lidia Yuknavitch, who recently published an essay, “There is No Map for Grief,” in the Millions, now has an essay on violence, beauty and and storytelling in Guernica.
Just because Beowulf‘s influence on Tolkien isn’t news doesn’t mean the publication of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s translation of the epic poem this week isn’t exciting. But while Tolkien’s name alone may be enough for the serious fan, Ethan Gilsdorf at the New York Times has given general readers an introduction to the history of the new translation complete with some insight into Tolkien’s love of the epic poem.
Perhaps inspired by the similarly-named astronomer, Freeman Dyson wrote an entry for the NYT’s By the Book series, in which he praises Edward Wilson, Kristin Ghodsee, Robert Kanigel and Octavia Butler, the last of whom he dubs his favorite novelist of all time. Sample quote: “The Magic City can be read on two levels, as a children’s adventure story and as a critique of modern society. Karl Marx was a friend of [Edith] Nesbit’s family.”
The Smithsonian has a good reminder about the links between design and history, about how time can seemingly erode the politics behind an aesthetic movement, about the relationships between images and texts, about how Italian futurism may still look cool but came from a group of sexist and at least partially fascist men.