What does it mean to be cool? According to scholar Joel Dinerstein, it means a person who conveys “relaxed intensity.” Using this definition, Dinerstein and Frank Goodyear III curated a photography exhibition of “American Cool” at National Portrait Gallery. The portraits feature everyone from Joan Didion to David Byrne.
Beauty is in the eye of the writer. Adelle Waldman discusses why many novelists fail to address female beauty in a meaningful and nuanced way. “Women are not only subject to a constant and exhausting and sometimes humiliating scrutiny—they are also belittled for caring about their beauty, mocked for seeking to enhance or to hold onto their good looks, while men are just, well, being men.”
Recommended Reading/Listening: Maia Evrona’s translation and recitation of a poem by Abraham Sutzkever, who has been called one of the primary poets of the Holocaust. Gabriel Brownstein’s essay for The Millions on what it means to be a “Jewish writer” is a good complementary piece.
At Newsweek, Jeremy McCarter reviews The Cross of Redemption, a new anthology of James Baldwin’s previously uncollected essays and public letters: “At a time when serious people claim we live in a ‘post-racial’ society, the reappearance of Baldwin’s writing—insistent, accusatory, outraged—feels like a terrible family secret coming to light in an Ibsen play, or Banquo’s ghost showing up to spoil the party.”
Biographer and novelist Penelope Fitzgerald of the Booker Prized novel Offshore, was born on this day in 1916. Ranked twenty-third on the London Times 2008 list of “Britain’s Fifty Greatest Writers Since WWII,” Fitzgerald didn’t begin her twenty-year writing career until age fifty-eight. Can we say Post-40 Bloomer?
After winning a $100,000 grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation, what do you do for an encore? How about staging “fifty days of lectures, discussions, and debates” about what the future ought to look like? How about enlisting the likes of Laurie Anderson, Samuel Delany, Rachel Kushner, and Norman Rush as ringmasters? How about having the entire thing take place in structures designed by artists José León Cerrillo and Adrián Villar Rojas? Triple Canopy‘s “Speculations” occupies MoMA’s P.S. 1 this summer