I admit that I picked up Miguel Ángel Asturias’s 1963 novel Mulata de Tal because of the cover and blurb alone. This 1982 translation is by Gregory Rabassa, and part of a series of Latin American authors that Avon/Bard put out in really cool attractive mass market paperbacks in the 1980s. The titles can be hit or […]
TED2017 begins on Monday in Vancouver, Canada, and will explore the theme “The Future You.” If the future you is anything like the future us, you are likely curled up in a big cushy chair right now, devouring the contents of a book that flips your thinking. Below, some reading suggestions from the speaker program. Read, enjoy and…
By all accounts, he took pulp fiction yarns – about hard-boiled private eyes, such as his popular creation, Sam Spade, in The Maltese Falcon – to new, and higher, literary heights.
From our friends at Bibloklept:
October 3rd. — A strange occurrence has taken place today. I got up fairly late, and when Mawra brought me my clean boots, I asked her how late it was. When I heard it had long struck ten, I dressed as quickly as possible.
To tell the truth, I would rather not have gone to the office at all today, for I know beforehand that our department-chief will look as sour as vinegar. For some time past he has been in the habit of saying to me, “Look here, my friend; there is something wrong with your head. You often rush about as though you were possessed. Then you make such confused abstracts of the documents that the devil himself cannot make them out; you write the title without any capital letters, and add neither the date nor the docket-number.” The long-legged scoundrel! He is certainly envious of me, because I sit in the director’s work-room, and mend His Excellency’s pens. In a word, I should not have gone to the office if I had not hoped to meet the accountant, and perhaps squeeze a little advance out of this skinflint.
A terrible man, this accountant! As for his advancing one’s salary once in a way — you might sooner expect the skies to fall. You may beg and beseech him, and be on the very verge of ruin — this grey devil won’t budge an inch. At the same time, his own cook at home, as all the world knows, boxes his ears.
I really don’t see what good one gets by serving in our department. There are no plums there. In the fiscal and judicial offices it is quite different. There some ungainly fellow sits in a corner and writes and writes; he has such a shabby coat and such an ugly mug that one would like to spit on both of them. But you should see what a splendid country-house he has rented. He would not condescend to accept a gilt porcelain cup as a present. “You can give that to your family doctor,” he would say. Nothing less than a pair of chestnut horses, a fine carriage, or a beaver-fur coat worth three hundred roubles would be good enough for him. And yet he seems so mild and quiet, and asks so amiably, “Please lend me your penknife; I wish to mend my pen.” Nevertheless, he knows how to scarify a petitioner till he has hardly a whole stitch left on his body.
Read more on their blog here.
Black and White. The power these non-colors have on our eyes, our imagination, are difficult to pin down. Vincent Van Gogh found it necessary to master these two tones before feeling comfortable to work with his legendary splashes of color. Such is the importance of these striking tones.
Nuno Moreira works in the realm of photography, but his art is no less striking than the great Dutch master’s work. His new book, “Zona,” is a meditative exploration on how (non-) colors, text and black and white images work together in a seamless fashion. The cover itself starts the experience of this book out quite nicely.
In an age where digital reading material is the norm, it is a wonderful sensation to feel the coarseness of a well-done book cover. As each page passes, one can choose to meditate on the stark tones inside. Text written by José Luís Peixoto give one pause to drink in the meaning of these words (in Portuguese, English and Japanese).
More on Nuno’s eye. Perhaps referencing the Dutch Masters is a bit off. There is something more searing about black & white, something more otherworldly, a better way of telling a story, a way of acclimating movement, curve, form, to text. The models use simple movements – a touching of a shoulder, the extension of a hand… Much like in the altar of a church, or in the making of icons, there is absolutely no detail that is superfluous. Through simple movements, Nuno and José Luís play off of each other. The words are few, yet the stories told here are quite deep.
I can’t say I’ve come across such a work before. It’s a perfect meditative tool for me, and I say this as one who comes from a background steeped in icons, ‘Jesus’ prayers and a wonderful sensory overload which inspires calm. The contrast of powerful images separated by black or white pages gives one an opportunity to truly drink in what one has seen, and then move on to the next image, fully satiated. It is a masterful work, and a rare opportunity to ‘borrow’ the eyes of a visionary.
The ever-brilliant Jorge Luis Borges, even from the grave, will make you broke looking for incredible books to read.