Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick would have been 63 today. Four years have passed since her death, but her absence is felt more, not less, with each. More than ever Sedgwick’s writing generates further writing and thinking from those who engage with it.
Sedgwick once said about reading affect theorist Silvan Tomkins: "I often get tired when I’m learning a lot." Her writing has the same effect—calming and invigorating—generative and tireless even if also sometimes tiring. In her posthumous collection, The Weather In Proust (2011), Sedgwick remarks that one form of antinormative reading can lead to many other types of theorizing—this is exactly how I feel about Sedgwick’s work. Forever [...]
People are angry that Rick Moody has opined that Taylor Swift's music is ten kinds of commercial suck. Their beef is this bit: That it will not matter that we all will realize that she is terrible, "because her parents work in finance, and she has good manners, and she’s going to marry up, and she’s going to get into the movies (not just guest appearances in CSI), and she’s going to launch some clothing lines at Target (no, wait, I think she already did that), and a personal fragrance (I think she did that too), and parlay all her bad press into some self-serious complaints, making good [...]
I waited on Frank Bruni and three others on his second-to-last visit to Graydon Carter’s Monkey Bar back in 2009, and unwittingly provided him with the kicker to his one-star review (the restaurant had been aiming for two)…. This, to me, is one of the stranger outcomes of restaurant reviews: that waiters are sometimes treated like they work in the public interest, or something. But as people argue over whether the New York Times is being classist in its scathing review of Guy Fieri’s restaurant, I’d like to point out the quieter classism that is inherent to the restaurant review: that very dispensable service employees are outed for [...]
Of all the months we've looked at so far, the August image in the Thomas Kinkade 2012 calendar may be the most quintessentially Kinkadian. The lighthouse. The cottage. The trademark glow. This one should have been effortless to critique. But when I started typing out notes, I realized that I was done with critiquing his work. No more Kinkade analysis! Could I possibly say anything new about a man who basically painted the same thing hundreds of times? The mere thought of the task started to bring on a headache. Since it's summer, I decided that it was time to have some fun with him for a change. It was [...]
There have been enough essays on the death of book reading, but have there been enough words devoted to discussing the decline of book reviewing? In the last decade or so—yes, indeed, as we've all wrestled with how the internet influences everything we do, including reading, writing, and writing about books (Tolstoy LOL tl;dr). But while the words "book-review" made its first print appearance as a headline in 1861 to just that—a review of a book titled How to Talk: A Pocket of Speaking, Conversation, and Debating (verdict: "The present work has the additional recommendation of an unmistakably useful subject, which is lucidly treated")—the practice of criticizing the critics [...]
1. “New York’s not very friendly to strange girls, is it? I suppose you’ve got so many of your own already—and they’re all so fascinating you don’t care!”
2. “The chief characteristic of her generation is a kind of creative solipsism: nothing is better material than the absurdities and contradictions of her own life. Successfully mining personal experience of underachievement has, of course, its ironies.”
3. "As a girl, you are a delicate glass vase, waiting to be broken. You are a sweet-smelling flower, waiting for life’s hobnailed boots to trample you. That built-in suspense is part of your appeal."
4. "It is less mortifying to [...]
James Fenton's highly enjoyable attack on "Downton Abbey" is… highly enjoyable. He may be largely right, that the soap opera has churches composed of the wrong stones and that certain behaviors are… at least improbable. (Also, sure, we all know the "burn victim" mini-plot was an episode of scripting derangement.) But Fenton's Englishness makes obscure to him the American love of the show, and so he goes far astray in his central criticism.