The Furrows of Algeria
January 27, 2010
The German Mujahid By Boualem Sansal Translated by Frank Wynne (Europa Editions, 240 pp., $15) I. From the terrible Algerian slaughter, and its terrible silence, comes this small tale, told by an officer of the special forces who broke with “Le Pouvoir” of his own country and sought asylum in France. It is the autumn of 1994, deep into the season of killing. An old and simple Algerian woman, accompanied by two of her children, comes to the army barracks, to the very building where the torturers did their grim work, in search of her husband and her son.
The Hunger Artists
January 18, 2010
Dancing In the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression By Morris Dickstein (W.W. Norton, 598 pp., $29.95) Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits By Linda Gordon (W.W. Norton, 536 pp., $35) American Hungers: The Problem of Poverty In U.S. Literature, 1840-1945 By Gavin Jones (Princeton University Press, 248 pp., $38.50) “Let me tell you about the very rich,” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in a story of 1926, at the height of the economic boom and his own creative powers.
January 09, 2010
The Invention of the Jewish People By Shlomo Sand Translated by Yael Lotan (Verso, 400 pp., $34.95) By the books an age reads and respects ye shall know it.
The State of the Opposition is Strong
January 08, 2010
A couple of days after June’s stolen election in Iran, Flynt Leverett and I were both guests on “The Charlie Rose Show.” Mr. Leverett was waxing eloquent about how Ahmadinejad could have actually won the election. His supposed evidence was a May poll, conducted by phone from Turkey, before the presidential campaign had even begun. Apparently he did not read the entire report of the poll, merely a summary, published in a Washington Post editorial. Much of the full report contradicted his conclusions.
L.L. Zamenhof and the Shadow People
December 30, 2009
Starting at midnight on December 15, 2009, the Google logo was draped in a green flag. Perhaps you thought it was the Palestinian or the Saudi flag; perhaps this unsettled you enough to mouse it. If you did, you’d have learned that the flag celebrated the one hundred and fiftieth birthday of Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof, the founder of Esperanto. And if you clicked on it, you’d have helped make “L.L. Zamenhof” the third most often-searched term on Google that day. None of this was happenstance.
The Art of Work
December 28, 2009
The best movie ever made about dance.
The Best Art Books of the Year
December 22, 2009
Here is a gathering of books that appeal to the sense of touch and the sense of sight. You will want to read them, of course, but in many cases you will also want to feel the quality of the paper and the binding and let the beauty of the reproductions fill your eyes. There could be no better gift at a time when the book business is on the defensive. These are books that cannot be repackaged as eBooks. They are magically physical objects. Irving Penn: Small Trades, by Virginia A. Heckert and Anne Lacoste (The J. Paul Getty Museum).
December 19, 2009
Charles Dickens Michael Slater Yale University Press, 696 pp., $35 I. For a long time, everyone has known that Paris was the capital of the nineteenth century, the city where the modern was invented: the society of the spectacular. But everyone was wrong. The capital of the nineteenth century was London. Think about it. Walter Benjamin’s symbol of the Parisian modern was the arcade. The arcade! In London-according to the social campaigner Henry Mayhew, there were 300,000 dustbins, 300,000 cesspools, and three million chimneys.
Squaring Idealism and Realism
December 14, 2009
PARIS -- Europeans are coming to terms with the fact that President Obama is not a miracle worker, and with the reality that everything he does is not magic. Oh, yes, most Europeans are still happy Obama is president.
December 10, 2009
Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity Museum of Modern Art Kandinsky Guggenheim Museum This is an autumn of anniversaries in two of New York’s most important museums. At the Museum of Modern Art, “Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity,” the exhibition saluting the ninetieth anniversary of the opening of the legendary German school of art, architecture, and design, also marks the eightieth anniversary of the founding of the Modern.