“To translate the power of Tish and Fonny’s love to the screen in Baldwin’s image is a dream I’ve long held dear. Working alongside the Baldwin Estate, I’m excited to finally make that dream come true.” Oscar-winning Moonlight director Barry Jenkins is adapting James Baldwin‘s 1974 novel If Beale Street Could Talk for the screen, says The Hollywood Reporter. (He’s also bringing Colson Whitehead‘s The Underground Railroad to visual life as well.)
“[I]t becomes an act of subversion, an act of catharsis.” Plougshares has a piece about the Lolita aesthetic on Tumblr. See also: our conversation with John Gall who, as art director for Vintage and Anchor books, was responsible for at least two Lolita covers, not to mention the redesign of the entire Nabokov catalog.
“Learning to really listen to it and learning to kind of embrace it, rather than running away from it, was a very useful thing to do,” says Hari Kunzru of the sounds of New York City’s streets. The sirens, horns, and arguments are the inspiration for his new “multimedia book,” Twice Upon a Time: Listening to New York. (Bonus: Kunzru has participated in our Year in Reading series two times in the past.)
Good news! According to Vinson Cunningham’s new essay in The New Yorker, beauty merely “masks and perfumes … it freezes moral categories in place,” whereas ugliness, on the other hand, “is sometimes the closest thing to the truth.” Wait, is that good news? Bonus: Vinson wrote a Year in Reading piece for us.
Recommended Reading: Elisa Gabbert at Guernica on the relationship between ideas and language. “How can the name come after the concept if you need the name to understand the concept? This problem of circularity always made me resistant to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in its strong version, which states that our thoughts are bound by the restraints of our language.”
In his column in the Chicago Tribune today, Eric Zorn describes a particularly ugly incident that occurred at a library not far from where I live. Somebody set fire to a number of books at the John Merlo branch of the Chicago Public Library. Making matters worse, it appears as though the arsonist targeted the gay and lesbian books section of the library, which itself is located in a neighborhood with a large gay population. From Zorn’s column: Staffers detected the fire quickly and used an extinguisher to put it out before anyone was hurt. The library remained open, and if you visit there today, the only reminders of the incident are gaps on several shelves where destroyed books used to sit.But the location makes it a bigger event. For both symbolic and safety reasons, the idea of arson in the stacks, no matter how relatively unsuccessful, is chilling. Public libraries are not only embodiments of liberty but, with all that paper, prospective tinderboxes.More chilling still to many is that the unknown arsonist chose to set the fire in the heart of the Chicago area’s largest unified collection of gay and lesbian-oriented books.Zorn explores the topic further at his blog explaining why he decided to devote his column to what was, admittedly, a very minor fire, wondering “Do we not, in some ways, magnify the power of a hate crime when we publicize it?”I’m glad he decided to write the column. Coming on the heels of a book-banning attempt in a nearby school district, it’s been a rough couple of months for books in the Chicago area.Update: It turns out it wasn’t a hate crime. As Eric Zorn explains, they caught the culprit, a 21-year-old homeless woman who set the fire because “she was angry at library staff for being rude to her.”