Jonathan Raban intersperses biographical information about William Gaddis in order to give the correspondence collected in his recently published Letters greater context. There are ample details about the author’s travels in his young adulthood, his artistic frustrations over the publication of The Recognitions, and, of course, many details about the women in Gaddis’s life. “In letters to his mother,” Raban writes, “Gaddis liked to depict himself as someone repeatedly smitten by beautiful women.” (Bonus: “The Letters of William Gaddis contains five letters addressed to me.”
Though the world may never know whether reading the greats makes you a better person, according to a recent study, those who take an active interest in the arts are more likely to be altruistic.
Behold the polymathic mind of Terry Castle, professor, literary essayist, and collage artist. At Fevered Brain Productions, her art blog, see digitally alter photos and collages like "Warthog Proffering Rootbeer," "She Polarizes People," "Collage Dramas", and "Kind Hearts and Coronets." And from the LRB archives, check out her controversial quasi-eulogy for Susan Sontag, her reviews (for example, Always the Bridesmaid on Yopie Prins' Victorian Sappho), and her essays (Travels With My Mom). The Professor, Castle's forthcoming book of essays, will be published by HarperCollins in January.
"‘What I want,’ a young Luis Buñuel announced to the audience at an early screening of his first film, Un Chien Andalou (1929), ‘is for you not to like the film … I’d be sorry if it pleased you.’ The film’s opening scene, which culminates in a close-up of a straight-edge razor being drawn through a woman’s eyeball, is often taken as the epitome of cinema’s potential to do violence to its audience...Horror movies frighten us; violent thrillers agitate us; sentimental stories make us cry. Suffering is often part of our enjoyment. Within limits, however: we are not to be so displeased that we are not pleased. Buñuel deliberately went beyond the limits of permissible displeasure. And so, in his own way, does the Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke."