larb blog le carre

Hong Kong 2014 — A Post Before a Visit

By Jeffrey Wasserstrom

When this post goes live on November 5, I will have just arrived in Hong Kong. I’m heading there in part to give a pair of talks at a university, but more important than that is my desire to see for myself how the city, which has changed so profoundly since I first visited it in 1987, has been transformed by the recent wave of protests. My trip is linked to an experimental course that I’m teaching at UC Irvine. It’s titled “Global Crises” and has included presentations by various regional specialists. Some of these guest speakers have come across campus to give presentations, while others have visited the class long-distance via Skype. While in Hong Kong, I will take my own turn as one of those guests from afar. Joining me in that Skyped-in session will be a Hong Kong-based journalist, a Hong Kong-based academic, and a visiting researcher from the United States, all of whom have been tracking closely the events unfolding on the city’s streets. Continue reading

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JSTOR Daily

JSTOR will be familiar to many readers as the repository of academic papers from which Aaron Swartz performed his fateful download at MIT. But many may not realize that JSTOR, a nonprofit, was already planning to make the public domain portion of its immense scholarly archive accessible to the public, as it has since done.

Furthering this project of making the informational wealth of the academy more accessible to the public, JSTOR recently launched JSTOR Daily, providing public access to the strange and fascinating world of the academy in a beautiful, eclectic and intelligent publication. It’s still in beta, but it is great. Recent articles include “Outbeat: America’s First LGBT Jazz Festival”, “Chess Grandmastery: Nature, Gender, and the Genius of Judit Polgár,” and “Is Marijuana Good for Public Health?”

Editor Catherine Halley speaks with us about JSTOR Daily in a fun, freewheeling conversation.

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The LARB Intern Interview

Editor’s Note:  Each year, the Los Angeles Review of Books hosts a summer internship program that features the LARB Publishing Course: a weekly seminar series on how to edit, design and ultimately publish a magazine. As part of the Course, the interns take over LARB‘s tabloid print magazine and publish their own edition. It is a real world experience: the interns acquire content, edit and copyedit the articles, solicit art, and ultimately bring it to press. 

The internship program is over now that it’s November, but the LARB Intern Magazine is finished and has just been sent out to our members. I corresponded with three of the interns most involved with producing the magazine: Steven Williams, the Managing Editor, Cypress Mars, the Deputy Managing Editor, and Zach Mann, the Layout Editor and Copy Desk Chief.  Continue reading

Larb blog giving blood

Going to Give the Blood

Photo credit Alex Crétey Systermans.

By Joanna Chen

“Can I give blood too?” my son asks as I stand in the doorway, car keys in one hand, my bag and a bottle of water in the other. “No,” I say. “You can’t. You’re too young.” He is fifteen years old and has a genetic disease. He will probably never be able to donate blood.

My partner, Raz, and I drive to East Jerusalem and up to the Mount of Olives. It’s a beautiful journey, beginning with the biblical landscape of David and Goliath. The Ella Valley, where we live, has barely changed for years, a gentle range of hills dotted with olive and almond trees that blossom wildly in season. The area also carries a delicate historical subtext: it was the site of a number of Arab villages that existed before the 1948 war. One of the villages we pass still contains a mosque, peeking out above the red roofed houses of Kurdish Jews who fled Northern Iraq in the early 1950s. Continue reading

larb blog alison saar

This Week’s Triptych Artist: Alison Saar

This week, our featured triptych artist is Alison Saar.  Born in Los Angeles, Alison’s many solo exhibitions include Hothouse, Watts Towers Art Center, Watts, CA, and Slough, L.A., Louver, Venice, CA.  She also has participated in several group exhibitions including Women and Print (2014, Ruth Candler Williamson Gallery, Scripps College) and New York City Parks Sculptures Honoring the African American Experience (The Arsenal, Central Park, New York).

This week’s triptych features her work “Cotton Eater” (2013, wood cotton, acrylic, and tar, 64 x 20 1/2 x 17 1/2 in. (162.6 x 52.1 x 44.5 cm. Copyright Alison Saar. Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA).

Cotton Eater AIS13-31 A

 

Cotton Eater AIS13-31 D

 

Cotton Eater AIS13-31 E

larb blog harold fry

The Unlikely Success of Harold Fry’s Pilgrimage

By Paul French

A boring Englishman leaves home one morning to post a letter while his wife runs the vacuum cleaner over the upstairs carpets. He doesn’t come back. Instead he walks from one end of England to the other. Not, one would think, an immediately attractive scenario for a novel that has been read by millions of Chinese readers in the PRC and Taiwan and topped the book charts in both countries. Yet it has. Rachel Joyce’s debut novel, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, got rave reviews in the UK when it was first published in 2012, became a bestseller, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize and longlisted for the Man Booker. Fine, but what’s got Chinese readers so captivated about boring English everyman Harold Fry? Continue reading

larb blog kammen

“Of the making of many books there is no end”: Remembering Michael Kammen, the Professor of Paradox

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

larb blog 1940s china

Remembering the 1930s and 1940s, or Reliving Them?

By Austin Dean

The writer Xiao Hong is everywhere in China these days. Her face recently graced the covers of a score of newspapers and magazines; the publication Sanlian Weekly devoted over thirty pages to her; billboards advertised the recently released film about her career. In fact, the new film The Golden Era is the second Xiao Hong biopic to come out in the space of just two years—the first one, Fallen Flowers, hit theaters in March 2013. A remarkable accomplishment, particularly since Xiao published most of her work in the 1920s and 1930s and passed away in 1942. Continue reading

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Tom’s Book Club: Sunday Newsletter

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