At Santa Maddalena

By Kaya Genç

“Dinner here is 8:30, so arriving at Saint Ellero before 8 is ideal,” Andy had written in an e-mail and when I got off a Trenitalia carriage on the second day of June this year, he was standing by the rails to greet me, as promised. Andy (Andrew Sean Greer, for those who know him from his novels) had driven to the station in a small rented car. As we rode through the steep roads curving through Tuscan mountains, the San Francisco-born novelist happily reported the recent change in the weather of Reggello: summer had finally arrived. I watched the brightly illuminated green woods and distant mountains from the windshield, as Andy told me about his life in Tuscany, and his latest novel, Less, which The New Yorker would run an excerpt from in its upcoming issue. Before moving to the next subject, the political tribulations in my home country, Turkey, the road curved to Donnini, the little Tuscan town where Andy proposed to stop by at a bar to drink some aperols before heading to our real destination. Continue reading

Orphan Black Season Five, “Guillotines Decide”: The Community is the Smallest Unit

By Everett Hamner

This is the eighth in a series of episode-by-episode reflections on Orphan Black Season 5 (preview; episode 1 ; episode 2; episode 3; episode 4; episode 5; episode 6; episode 7). These pieces do not provide thorough plot summaries but do include spoilers; they assume readers have already been viewers. Responses via Twitter continue to be very welcome! Continue reading

The Stuff of Dreams: Bernard Friedman’s The American Idea of Home: Conversations About Architecture and Design (University of Texas Press, 2017)

By Sam Hall Kaplan

Bernard Friedman’s The American Idea of Home: Conversations About Architecture and Design was recently presented to me by an enduring friend, in deference to a haunting academic interest of mine. The hope was for a review, but given the escalating world housing crisis, and with all due respects to the earnest author, it was like a piece of meat thrown into the cage of an angry tiger.
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Witnessing Miracles in Teju Cole’s Blind Spot

By Austin Adams

“There is more in the world,” Teju Cole writes in his latest book Blind Spot, gesturing to Hamlet’s famous lament. The heaven and earth of Cole’s philosophy is local and seasonal. Structured as a book-length series of pairings of photographs coupled with text, we are given to consider several hundred images of day-to-day life from across the globe — happenstance corners, detritus and, occasionally, people and things that inhabit the world without spectacle or choreographed meaning. At this moment, in the first text-image pairing, we are with Cole in Tivoli, where spring has doubled the earth: “Everything grows, both what receives the light, and what is cast by it. There is more in the world, all of it proliferating like neural patterns.” Continue reading

Letter from Patmos, Apocalypse Island: The Calamitous Rule of a “Man Child” Hath Been Foretold — Millennia Ago

By Jeffrey Tayler

A tyrannical “man child” who will rule the earth? A disintegrating world order based on the man child’s home country? A malevolent, powerful “beast speaking great things and blasphemies?” Widespread drought, plagues, and poisoning of the environment? “In one hour, so great riches…come to naught?” Wars, aggrieved masses, fire from the skies, and a climactic battle at Armageddon?

Atheist that I am, I’m the last one to put stock in the End Times prophecy featured in the Book of Revelation, aka the Apocalypse, the final (and most lurid) book of the Bible. However, since the recent presidential election… Continue reading

“The Suspended Step” Reimagines the City of Lucca

By Grace Roberti

Morphing mammals, dismembered body parts, and reimagined classical figures stand in unexpected locations throughout the historic center of Lucca, Italy. They are part of an exhibit entitled: Il passo sospeso ~ Esplorazione del limite or The Suspended Step ~ An Exploration of Limits. The bronze works of over 40 international artists are featured among Lucca’s famed, park-topped Renaissance walls, and they make touring historical sites thought-provoking and even fun. Continue reading

An Interview with Paul French on Bloody Saturday: Shanghai’s Darkest Day

By Jeffrey Wasserstrom

Penguin China is having a busy summer when it comes to releasing short books in its “specials” series, many of them linked this year to round number anniversaries. First came a set of short volumes on Hong Kong, on issues such as youth and protest, to mark the 20th anniversary of the territory’s transition from being a Crown Colony to being Special Administrative Region of the PRC. Next up is Paul French’s look back to a dramatic and dreadful day on Shanghai history, dubbed “bloody Saturday,” which will be published as the 80th anniversary of that August, 14, 1937, date arrives. Here are some questions Paul, known for works such as the Edgar-winning Midnight in Peking, was good enough to answer via email. Continue reading

“Another One for the Fire”: George A. Romero on Race

By James Rushing Daniel 

Filmmaker George A. Romero died earlier this month at the age of 77, following a career spanning six decades. While he continued to work well into his final years, and was even developing a new film at the time of his death, he will be remembered for his early projects: 1968’s Night of the Living Dead and 1978’s Dawn of the Dead. Produced in Western Pennsylvania on meager budgets and with largely local talent, the films are pinnacles of midcentury independent cinema. Wildly successful in their heyday, their influence has arguably only grown since their release; The Walking Dead empire, Sean of the Dead (2004), World War Z (2006), video games Left 4 Dead (2008) and The Last of Us (2013), and even Colson Whitehead’s high-concept literary thriller Zone One (2011) are all are indebted to Romero’s work. Continue reading

Images of the Digital Age: “Something Unusual is Happening” at Printed Matter

By Megan N. Liberty

Fully immersed in the digital age, we are in a constant state of multitasking; we carry web browsers in our pockets, simultaneously talking, reading, and traveling. Whereas once we relegated combinations of image and text to children’s books, now they ooze from our fingertips as we spew emoji and GIFS alongside our letters. One particular media is well-suited to champion narrative that captures our new mode of interaction: the comic. Already steeped in image-text combinations, its layered multi-panel form speaks our digital language. Something Unusual is Happening: Experimental Comics and the Art of Visual Narrative at Printed Matter in New York surveys some of the comic artists innovating today, presenting a range of works that reflect the multitasking, fast paced, image-text communication that has become commonplace. The majority of the work is from the aughts, and includes American and European artists and stapled zines, bound books, textiles, and large prints. Shared by all is a commitment to expanding the form, pushing the limits of graphic narrative. Continue reading

Announcing the LARB China Channel

Dear China Blog Readers,

Thanks to a generous seed grant from the Henry Luce Foundation as well as support from the Los Angeles Review of Books, the “China Blog” will be morphing into a freestanding magazine within the magazine. The LARB China Channel will join a set of pre-existing LARB Channels (these vary widely as you can see by clicking here), so we will be in good company. We are very excited about this — “we” being the following team of editors: Continue reading