Adonis, the great Syrian poet, has reproduced and adapted one of the ancient Muallaqat (The Suspended Odes) originally written by Zuhayr. The reproduction is hand-written on a scroll of paper, and then painted on, thereby “creating a new and contemporary interpretation of the text.”
At Bookforum, Alexander Benaim reads the latest novel by Jess Row, which I wrote about as part of our most recent book preview. The novel poses a charged, intriguing question: what would happen if it were possible to change your race? (It might also be a good time to read the author’s Year in Reading entry along with our own Mark O’Connell’s review of the novel at Slate.)
In last week’s Brandeis commencement speech, Leon Wieseltier argued that never has there been a moment in American life when the humanities were respected less but needed more. “In recent years I have come to regard a commitment to the humanities as nothing less than an act of intellectual defiance, of cultural dissidence,” he said.
“Many writers write vexed introspection, or detail-oriented reporting, or counterintuitive cultural commentary, or lifestyle journalism. But so far only Didion has done all four in perfect synthesis, a prose that, at its best, can fire on every cylinder and work on multiple fields of the imagination at once.” In support of the Kickstarter project for the documentary on Joan Didion, We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live, Nathan Heller looks back over Didion’s writing career, her “imaginatively seductive” nonfiction writing and her carefully constructed confessionalism in a piece for Vogue.
Catch it while you can: Charlie Rose‘s hour-long interview with Pedro Almodóvar and his muse, Penélope Cruz, touches on character, confidence, and control, and is currently available online. Almodóvar’s latest film, Broken Embraces, which I saw last summer in Madrid sans subtitles, was so visually stunning and well-acted that despite my meager translation the film enthralled. With a proper translation, it should be ravishing.