Jules Feiffer's Unlearning

We are looking forward with pleasure to taking more than a moment's time with Backing into Forward, the memoir from longtime Village Voice cartoonist Jules Feiffer, which publishes officially next month.  A passage chosen not quite at random:

Lincoln Steffens, the great muckraker, had taught me an unforgettable insight when I read his autobiography in my early twenties.  Steffens's first job in journalism was as a cub reporter on a New York daily.  He was just back from a classical European education, thought he knew everything, and after a month on the job discovered that everything he thought he knew, everything he'd been taught, was wrong.  The assignment he took upon himself was to "unlearn."

Unlearn.  That became my watchword.  My job was to unlearn for myself and pass it on to my readers.  Cut through the crap, theirs and ours, the powers that be and the powerless.

I started hearing from my readers.  And this is what I didn't hear: I didn't hear "God, you're brilliant.  God, you're funny.  God, how do you come up with those weird ideas?"  No, what I heard was, "How did you get that into print?  How did they let you get away with saying that?"


-From Backing into Forward

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
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.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."