Let's See

For years now, New Yorker readers have had the chance to read Peter Schjeldahl?s writings on exhibits of the well-known art greats -- Alexander Calder, Dan Flavin, Paul Gaugin -- as well as pondering his introductions to a shrewdly picked and eclectic array of contemporary artists like Vija Celimins, John Currin, and Mona Hatoum. In each of his pieces Schjeldahl has poked, prodded, situated, and editorialized, all in the service of struggling to articulate visceral responses to beauty. His profiles are compact, muscular, jaunty, knowledgeable. He?s a master of helping us see the nuance in canvases or sculptures or performance art, and his writing about artists is both personal and astute. ?Gaugin,? he notes darkly ?was not nice.? Now he?s produced a gallery full of his own thinking: a display of Schjedahls, even, and it?s a wonderful whirlwind tour, not only through worlds of art and artistic eras but also through the mind of a man who has spent his lifetime in search of access to the beautiful. Schjedahl writes first and foremost ?in praise of contradictory effects that baffle our rational minds.? He wants art to startle and hijack us out of daily life and into receptive, awe-filled submission. Because of this, his book is full of delicious one-liners that tickle the reader?s mind into synasethetic delight: Of the moody artist David Caspar Friedrich, Shjeldahl writes ?One doesn?t so much look at a Friedrich, as inhale it, like nicotine.? Inhale away. Tour Scheldahl?s personal gallery -- and emerge expanded, enlightened, caressed, and renewed.

July 22: On this day in 1941, on his twelfth wedding anniversary, Eugene O'Neill presented the just-finished manuscript of Long Day's Journey into Night to his wife, Carlotta.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).

Watching Them Be

What makes a film actor into a larger-than-life movie star? James Harvey's passionate, freewheeling essays explain why there are some faces (from Greta Garbo's to Samuel L. Jackson's) from which we cannot look away.


What if you called up the spouse on the verge of leaving you -- and instead found yourself magically talking to his younger self, the one you first fell for?  Rainbow Rowell, author of the YA smash Eleanor & Park, delivers a sly, enchanting take on 21st-century love.