As I wrote back in December when we at the LARB China Blog were suggesting titles for holiday shopping lists, my 2015 recommendation for a must-read China book is In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China, by Michael Meyer. A former Peace Corps volunteer and freelance journalist in China, Meyer now teaches English at the University of Pittsburgh (and is also, full disclosure, a fellow in the Public Intellectuals Program I co-direct at the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations). While Meyer’s first book examined life in Beijing’s narrow and twisty hutongs, or alleyways, as they faced demolition, In Manchuria moves north, to the vast expanses of China’s northeast. Using the village of Wasteland as his home base, Meyer criss-crosses the region, stopping in major cities and forgotten hamlets as he explores Manchuria’s history and reflects on the changes underway in the Chinese countryside today. I recently interviewed Meyer by email; if you’d like to see him discuss In Manchuria in person, check out his book tour dates here. Continue reading
for Phil Levine, RIP
My father was the biggest Yankee fan I knew but he never wanted me to be Mickey Mantle. He wanted me to be Mickey Mantle’s lawyer. He grew up poor in the Bronx and always viewed the Law from the perspective of an urchin in a Dickens novel. The Law was grand, exalted, and highly remunerative. Saying one’s son was a lawyer not only sounded both refined and prosperous, to a Depression era kid it represented the Platonic ideal of order in a chaotic world. And I bought it. Of my high school and college friends, six became lawyers. My friend of longest standing — we met in first grade — was an outlier. Desperate to be Ernest Hemingway, he went to Europe, he drank wine, he wrote a novel (currently in a drawer). And then he went to law school. Today, he’s a trusts and estates lawyer. For the first twenty-one years of my life that was the future: suit, tie, oxford cloth shirt, polished hard-soled shoes, court appearances, filing of briefs, whispered conferences in judges’ chambers, and, oh, that reliable paycheck. Continue reading
By Joanna Chen
A parachute appears, floating in a cloudless sky. It lands with a bump in the sand. A small figure unhitches herself, climbs to her feet. She pauses, brushes sand off her blue jeans. That girl is me and I have come back to the same spot where I landed in the Negev desert as a teenager, to remember. Continue reading
By Alec Ash
Just as the cold winds sweep the last leaves off Beijing’s trees, November 11 was Singles, or “bare branch,” Day in China (guanggunjie, after a Chinese term for single men). It’s chosen for the four number ones of 11/11, an appropriate date to be dateless. In a country with 118 boys born for every 100 girls, the main function of the festival seems to be making all of China’s single twigs feel inadequate. When I texted “What are you doing this guanggunjie?” to a handful of partnerless Chinese friends, I got back the same curt reply from three: “Sleeping.” I’ll know better than to ask next year.
Singles Day is mostly about online shopping sales now, but there are also a spattering of singles’ events in Beijing on the night. Speed dating is increasingly popular in China, as young urban people in full-time jobs try to find a compatible life partner. I went along to one for a look. Continue reading
LOS ANGELES, 10265 CHEVIOT DRIVE – HOME TO RAY BRADBURY
CONSTRUCTED 1937 – DEMOLISHED 2015
10265 Cheviot Drive, Los Angeles, home of fifty years to National Book Foundation medal winner Ray Bradbury, his wife Maggie of fifty-four years, and their four daughters. Basement office to Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, The Martian Chronicles, and myriad other works. Demolished by Pritzker Prize winning architect, Thomas Mayne. Artifacts from Bradbury’s basement office may be permanently viewed at The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. Survived by the homes of Carl Sandburg, Mark Twain, Robert Frost, Louisa May Alcott, Emily Dickerson, Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner, and Frederick O’Douglass and others.
In lieu of flowers please send contributions to The Los Angeles Review of Books.
Born in Nimes, France in 1936, Claude Viallat last exhibited in New York in 2002 at Cheim Read Gallery. He attended the Ecole de Beaux Arts de Paris (1962-3). His first solo show was in 1966. By the beginning of the 70s, he became one of the leaders of the group “Support-Surface.” He founded the group with fellow artists such as Bioulès, Cane, and Dezeuze after a period of intense experimentation in the south of France, where he installed his works in various non-institutional spaces such as farms, a beach, the bed of a river, etc. In a context of radical questioning social norms and values, this group of artists attempted to break up the convention of painting by deconstructing the concept of the stretcher (support) and canvas (surfaces). The group had its first show at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1971.
Claude Viallat is known for his emblematic “shape” which evokes both a net or a flat knot. Applied with a brush and a stencil, this shape acts as a signature of his works, which are never signed. By repeating this shape on a variety of surfaces, the artist frees himself of the limits of composition to focus on the combination of colors and its optical effects.
Claude Viallat is in numerous museum collections including Musée National d’Art Moderne, Fondation Cartier, CAPC Bordeaux, Museum of Modern Art, The Kunstmuseum Basel, and the Musée des Beaux Arts de Montreal.
The LARB Quarterly Journal is a testament to the fact that print is still thriving as readers continue to have a profound appetite for curated, edited, smart and fun opinion, written by the best writers and thinkers of our time.
We’ve carefully selected these articles, poems, interviews and essays—all written exclusively for this publication—for readers of just about any interest. The new issue of the LARB Quarterly Journal includes:
- Feature essays by Sven Birkerts, Carmen Petaccio, M.P. Ritzger, Sarah Tomlinson, CA Conrad, Ananya Vajpeyi, and Kim Barnes.
- Original poetry by Ada Limón, Bruce Bond, francine j. harris, and Jenny Johnson.
- Short-takes written by Amy Gerstler, Marjorie Sandor, Peter Trachtenberg, Rachel Pastan, Benjamin Weissman, Gabriel Mason, and Susanne Berne.
- Including an Artist Portfolio and profile of Emily Mast.
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By Paul French
Anne Witchard’s England’s Yellow Peril: Sinophobia and the Great War is the final volume in the Penguin China World War One series of short books that have highlighted the various aspects of China’s involvement in the Great War (previously discussed at this blog by Maura Elizabeth Cunningham). England’s Yellow Peril builds on Witchard’s previous work, looking closely at British perceptions of China and the Chinese through literature and the arts in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century. In England’s Yellow Peril she looks at how the outbreak of war accentuated and intensified many feelings of English racial dominance, Empire, and notions of the Yellow Peril that had arisen before the conflict. She concentrates on London’s old Chinatown of Limehouse in the East End, where swirling tales of opium smoking, gambling, and interracial romance had became synonymous with the presence of the Chinese. Continue reading
To see cultural terrorism at work, you don’t have to trek to Afghanistan, where in 2001 the Taliban dynamited a magnificent and monumental Buddha carved in live rock. Within our own country, the legislators and chief executive in Orange County, New York, a bucolic county a couple of hours west of New York City, seem keen on rivaling the Taliban for barbarism by irreversibly damaging the comparably magnificent and monumental Orange County Government Center, by the American architectural master Paul Rudolph. On February 5, unless a majority of the legislators at a meeting override a veto by the county executive, Steven Neuhaus, the bulldozers will be out by spring to demolish a large section of the building to make room for a soulless replacement. Our collective cultural patrimony will be diminished. Neuhaus claims he is accommodating pressure from the courts to reopen courtrooms in the currently shuttered building. He is also ignoring history and the national interest.