One of the better reasons you should read this review of the new book Breakfast with Freud is this quote, in reference to a Lucian Freud painting: “Robert Hughes compared [Francis] Bacon’s face in it to ‘a hand grenade on the point of detonation.’”
Paula Fox, celebrated novelist and winner of the 1983 National Book Award (among other honors), died this week. Contributing to our Year in Reading series two years ago, Parul Sehgal said she couldn’t stop rereading Desperate Characters, perhaps Fox’s most popular book for adults. “It’s really a wallop of a book,” Sehgal wrote. “A barbed portrait of a marriage, not to mention a brilliant take on gentrification, white fears of black and brown people, the hostile insularity of the nuclear family, and how power reproduces and how power conceals itself.” (Bonus: Dominic Smith wants to send a scene from that novel into space.)
When University of Iowa Special Collections librarian Colleen Theisen found hidden fore-edge paintings on a 19th century scientific book Autumn, she made a gif of it, of course. Then, she realized there were more secret paintings for each season and more gifs followed. Who said old books weren’t interactive?
“The physical purpose of reproduction is, obviously, the continuation and renewal of genetic continuity, human survival. Its psychological purpose seems to me to be a particularly poignant kind of mutual learning and, matters being equal, ineffable comfort.” What is the relationship between being an artist and being a parent? Maria Popova at Brain Pickings takes a look at sculptor Anne Truitt’s collected journals, Daybook, to try and suss out an answer.
How did Herman Melville’s friendship with Nathaniel Hawthorne affect the writing of Moby-Dick? It’s a hard question to answer with any certainty, but Patrick James Dunagan gives it a shot, drawing evidence from Erik Hage’s book on the authors’ relationship. You could also read Hester Blum’s argument that Moby-Dick is the greatest American novel.
Have you ever traveled halfway around the world to the once picturesque town of Ubud in Bali hoping to experience a psychological transformation á la Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love? Unfortunately, you’re not alone. Here’s a look at how great books have ruined some really great places. Our own Nick Moran has written about some good places gone bad, as well.