The Middle Distance
May 04, 2012
As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964–1980 By Susan Sontag Edited by David Rieff (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 523 pp., $30) Susan Sontag’s prose is designed to strike readers as measured, simultaneously wise and matter-of-fact. She favors relatively short words and she is spare with her adjectives. The writing, whether in the essays or the novels, has a workmanlike neutrality, as if Sontag were not presenting her own thoughts so much as offering a guided tour of the higher regions of human experience.
October 20, 2010
Leo and His Circle: The Life of Leo Castelli By Annie Cohen-Solal (Alfred A. Knopf, 540 pp., $35) I. Annie Cohen-Solal’s new biography of Leo Castelli, the art dealer who will forever be associated with the meteoric rise of Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg in the years around 1960, has set me to thinking about the interest that men and women who run galleries inspire among a fairly wide public.
Merce Cunningham (1919-2009)
July 31, 2009
Merce Cunningham died at his home in New York City on July 26, 2009, at the age of 90. He was one of the most important modern dance choreographers of the 20th century. Born near Seattle in 1919, his career spanned the postwar era: He made his first dance in 1944 and directed his own troupe, The Merce Cunningham Dance Company, for over 50 years from 1953 until his death last week. He created over 200 dances for his company, many of which are now performed by companies worldwide; he also mounted works on the New York City Ballet and the Paris Opera Ballet.
Sing for Me, Muse, the Mania
October 08, 2008
Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell Edited by Thomas Travisano with Saskia Hamilton (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 845 pp., $40) '"Your poem came to the right buyer," Robert Lowell wrote to Elizabeth Bishop during the spring of 1976 after receiving "One Art," the nineteen lines that Bishop called "the one & only villanelle of my life." Composed in a tightly repetitive form inherited from the troubadours of the late Renaissance, "One Art" may be the best known, most anthologized American poem of the past half-century.