“Over the course of our conversation, I’ve come to understand that he has not written (Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings) to provoke or to engender a self-serving sense of shock; he has written with a belief in the possibilities of liminal space and in the revelations that occur at the point of tension. The result is a book that jars, unequivocally, and that disquietingly brings to the surface the anguish of past and present America.” Stephen O’Connor’s poetic reimagining of the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and the enslaved Sally Hemings has certainly raised some eyebrows. This interview with Melody Nixon at BOMB gives O’Connor a platform from which to explain his idea.
Ever seen Henry Kissinger make eyes at a geisha? Richard Nixon ham it up at the Grand Ole Opry? Or Betty Ford (a one-time Martha Graham dancer) take a turn on the Cabinet Room table? Legendary photographer David Hume Kennerly has. His retrospective at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica just came down, but many of the best images are still up at the Frank Pictures Gallery website. Kennerly also took the somewhat notorious picture of O.J. Simpson and family with President Ford (the one O.J. was arrested for trying to steal), and for which his retrospective–“If Only O.J. Had Called Me”–was named.
Recommended Reading: On Raymond Carver’s birthday, his brother James stopped by Electric Literature to share his memories of what it was like growing up with the man behind such works as Will You Please Be Quiet, Please and What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.
With the season five premiere of Mad Men fast approaching, now’s as good a time as any to catch up on the intimate commingling of its main characters. Fortunately, the folks at Wired have organized the whole thing into a neat “Illustrated Guide to Mad Men Bed-Hopping.”
This week in beautiful books: Eugène Delacroix once illustrated Goethe’s Faust, and Goethe himself claimed the resulting lithographs “surpassed my own vision.” A full version of the work is now available online. And in a slightly more light-hearted vein, English Russia has found and scanned a delightful Soviet version of The Hobbit, complete with a Gollum straight out of Dr. Seuss.
Perhaps the best mashup of highbrow and lowbrow to grace the cultural ether in recent years is this innovative scratch-and-sniff guide to becoming a wine expert. The book, which is exactly what you think it is, declares that “not all oaks are created equal” and includes a diagram of “all the smells in the world.” (Related: literary tourism at Suttree’s High Gravity Beer Tavern.)