Now is as good a time as there ever will be to go and check out the Art Institute of Chicago. A new exhibit, “Invisible Man: Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison in Harlem,” combines the photography of Parks, who eventually went on to gain a measure of fame in the ’70s as a Hollywood movie director, and the writing of Ralph Ellison, in an attempt to offer a portrait of Harlem in the post-World War II years.
“My friend Kathy was a Mustang Ranch girl in the eighties, had a line on how to bring cocaine into town, and was party girl central and making a lot of money. She was in the center of it in a way that my characters can see but they can’t ever get to. Reno is a beautiful, beat up, and weird town devoted to this false notion of luck. It’s a beautiful place.” Talking with Christian Kiefer.
“‘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.”
“Riordan’s books prompt an uneasy interrogation of the premise underlying the ‘so long as they’re reading’ side of the debate—at least among those of us who want to share Neil Gaiman’s optimistic view that all reading is good reading, and yet find ourselves by disposition closer to the Tim Parks end of the spectrum, worried that those books on our children’s shelves that offer easy gratification are crowding out the different pleasures that may be offered by less grabby volumes.” In an essay for The New Yorker, Rebecca Mead considers questions about what children should be reading through the lens of the Percy Jackson series.
“Will anyone in America give a damn about Beig? It’s hard to imagine our glittering zeitgest machine ever getting behind her, with her landscape, her women, her knowledge of the secret lives of animals born for the hatchet. Her writing, so invested in the disappearing rural world, is particular, yes, but universal: her characters love and long and pine away.” Matthew Neill Null is unsatisfied with how American readers have treated the work of the great German novelist Maria Beig. He makes a passionate case in her favor in this new essay over at The Paris Review.
David Foster Wallace’s former student, Adam Plunkett, recounts studying with the polite, Midwestern, sometimes embarrassing professor whom he knew as Dave during the spring of his junior year at Pomona College, where Wallace worked until his death that September.