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.

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.