By Douglas Greenberg
The following is a feature article from the new LARB Quarterly Journal: Fall 2014 edition. To pick up your copy of the Journal, become a member of the Los Angeles Review of Books at the $15 monthly level.
All photographs courtesy of Carol K. Kammen. All rights reserved.
MY MENTOR AND FRIEND Michael Kammen died last November. A widely published and Pulitzer Prize–winning author, his passing was duly noted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other newspapers. The newsletters of various historical organizations also printed warm and admiring obituaries.
Individually some of these death notices contained factual errors or interpretive eccentricities that Michael would have found amusing, although he was too meticulous a scholar to have committed such mistakes himself. Collectively, however, they described a scholar and university professor who was literally prodigious. Continue reading
Come join LARB and Flaunt Magazine tonight at Lit Crawl. Event info is in the poster above. There will be readings from a series of pieces on palm trees – a collaboration we did with Flaunt this summer. You can read the pieces here, but be sure to come out to the event tonight as well to have them read to you!
David Grand’s latest novel, Mount Terminus, was 10 years in the making.
This is and isn’t unusual. James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist was 13 years from start to publication, Ulysses six years, Finnegans Wake took 17 — three novels and a collection of short stories over 33 years.
William Dean Howells, on the other hand, published 53 books in a 50-year career. Henry James, too, a bit over a book a year. Stephen King is right around two books a year. Flaubert, though, famously tried to get a good sentence a day.
Fast books and slow books. There is no necessary relation to quality, but I feel one can sense the slow construction of Grand’s Mount Terminus. Like a French sauce, it has deep flavors, the thought and story and emotion reduced to their essences, and a complex, multileveled world results. Continue reading
Congratulations to Richard Flanagan, announced today as the 2014 winner of the Man Booker Prize for his novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North. This was the first year American writers were allowed to be nominated for the prize: Joshua Ferris and Karen Joy Fowler were the only Americans to make the shortlist (consisting of six finalists). LARB is proud to have reviewed two of the novels on the shortlist (those by Ferris and Joy Fowler) earlier this year, and also to have recently reviewed another book by a shortlisted author, Ali Smith. Check out the reviews below:
Today it was announced that Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, and Kailash Satyarthi of India have been awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.
We published a review of Yousafzai’s book, I Am Malala, a little less than a year ago, in November 2013. We read it again after we heard she had been awarded the peace prize, and we hope you will too!
From the review: “As for the answer to the question, Malala is more than ‘the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban,’ as the book’s subhead pronounces. The voice that beams, ‘I am Malala,’ is the voice that continues to meet the assassin’s challenge. It is the voice of a courageous campaigner who still fights for girls’ education. The voice of an icon who may one day be able to return to her country, but who even from afar symbolizes its noblest cause. When she laughs, she covers the side of her face that becomes slightly distorted because of the bullet’s damage. A year after she was almost killed, it’s the most beautiful laughter we can hear.”
Ten years ago, on October 9, 2004, the philosopher Jacques Derrida passed away. To mark this occasion and inquire into the legacy of Derrida’s thought today, LARB’s philosophy/critical theory genre section is featuring five short texts by Peggy Kamuf, Gil Anidjar, Elisabeth Weber, Michael Marder, and Luce Irigaray that cover aspects of Derrida’s thought ranging from biodegradability to the Holocaust, the death penalty and drone attacks, plant-life and being human, and back.
Also featured in LARB today is Jeremy Butman’s interview with Simon Critchley about Critchley’s book The Ethics of Deconstruction: Derrida and Levinas, which proposed the notion of an ethical turn in Derrida’s thought when it was first published in the early 1990s and was recently re-released in a third, revised edition.
— Arne De Boever, LARB philosophy/critical theory section editor
Peggy Kamuf, “Remains to Be Seen”
Gil Anidjar, “Everything Burns: Derrida’s Holocaust”
Elisabeth Weber, “Jacques Derrida’s Urgency, Today”
Michael Marder and Luce Irigaray, “There Is No Thought Without Remembrance”
Photo: Cecil Castellucci, our Young Adult Fiction Editor.
School’s started. In just a few hours (10:29 p.m. EDT) it will officially be fall.
Right about now classrooms across the world are settling into their routine. Students have figured out where their second- period class is. Which teachers they love and hate. Who they are going to call friend for the rest of their life. Everything is still fresh. The year is full of potential.
We know that every single one of you fell in love with reading when you were young. And this most lasting of love affairs was probably sparked around this time of year, when you went back to school. Continue reading
Today’s post concerns the current triptych image on our main site, by photographer Peter Aaron. The photo is part of a series, described below.
In 2009, internationally acclaimed architectural photographer Peter Aaron visited Syria and during the course of several weeks recorded much of the country’s incomparable architectural and archaeological heritage. From Hellenistic and Roman ruins to Ottoman caravansarais, from medieval souks to Crusader castles, from early Christian pilgrimage sites to great Abbasid and Ummayad mosques, Aaron photographed a rich and remarkable array of sites, all still in use by local populations. Just months after his return to the U.S., the Syrian Civil War broke out. Since then, many of these magnificent structures, hundreds and even thousands of years old, have been severely damaged or destroyed.
From August 16 to September 7, fifty of Aaron’s most unforgettable Syrian images will be displayed at Art Space, 71 Palatine Road, Germantown New York. (Germantown is between Hudson and Rhinebeck.) Opening hours are Saturdays 11-5, Sundays 11-3. Opening reception Saturday, August 16 from 5-7.