Displaying articles for: June 2011

Some Day This Will Be Funny

Lynne Tillman's stealthy stories exhibit a quiet, composed delicacy that conceals a titanium armature and a burning fusion reactor core. Her work reminds me of the sculptures of Charles Krafft: elegant porcelain representations of deadly hand grenades and pistols.

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Disease Maps

Disease wants to be information--specifically, visual, spatial information. That's the best way our brains can ingest the scientific facts and reach fresh conclusions. Whether it be the symptoms afflicting an individual projected onto the schematic of a single body (such as we see in the groundbreaking work of Vesalius, with his De Humani Corporis Fabrica), or the agglomerated cases of a rampant disease charted across a geographical region, the most efficient and useful way to comprehend, control, and forecast sickness is to establish a relation between biology and cartography. Such is the thesis of Tom Koch's Disease Maps, a fascinating historical study of how humanity has come to understand epidemics in terms of maps.

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Genius, Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth

Alex Toth was no Jack Kirby. He never achieved fame through the creation of world-renowned superheroes. No legion of fanboys ever followed his byline. He was no fount of cosmic ideas. He disdained most publicity, and was more prone to morbidly dwell on what he saw as his failures, rather than boast of any triumphs. And he was not a team player or a happy camper when he felt slighted or misunderstood, which happened more and more often as he aged.

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The Rogue Crew

Ah, the faithful and grateful audience of a beloved author of books for young readers! The favorite books of childhood remain part of our souls forever, unlike those respectable tomes we amuse ourselves with as adults. And the deaths of YA creators can hit hard. Notice of the death of YA fantasist Brian Jacques (he died in February 2011 at age 71) evoked remarkably emotional responses, unanimous in their praise and shared sense of anguished loss.

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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.

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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.

Landline

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.