Maybe you're sick of discussing awful male directors. Or maybe you think there are male directors who are awful, but still need a defense based on the strength of their work, or even that they are misunderstood geniuses and not awful at all. You've seen the films and yes, you recognize the misogyny, the excessive violence, the homophobia, but you can recognize that without throwing away the gorgeous cinematography, the artful cadence of the dialogue, the contributions he's made to the field of filmmaking. And so to heck with society's puritanical standards of good taste, you're just going to keep watching those Woody Allen movies and you don't care who [...]
Did you read the excerpts from the forthcoming collection of Susan Sontag's journals in the Times this past weekend? I really liked the part where she said, "Most of the interesting art of our time is boring." I agree with that a lot. I don't know if I'd say "most of," but I like a lot of boring art, and boring things, and often find myself defending the benefits of boredom. (This post could quickly devolve into a semantical discussion of the precise definition of "boredom," but I will elide that. I also liked the part in the article where Sontag said, "I don’t care about someone being intelligent," [...]
I've been on record with my dislike for most of Annie Leibovitz's work, but even I figured it was a good value in the photography market. Her auction record is something like $57,000; today, you can actually buy prints for like $8 grand. But what are you getting? When she got into deep financial trouble, her arrangement with Philips resulted in a "Master Set" of 150 photographs, in an edition of 7; three of the set are broken up for solo sale. So, right: oh, look, a brand new edition! There's World Cup soccer photos in monster editions of 50; photographs, in an edition of 40, and sized [...]
There was, you know, a time when arguing about arguing actually felt vital. Really! To wit: In 1975, Susan Sontag wrote an essay on Leni Riefenstahl for The New York Review of Books. It was not her first comment on the director of the Triumph of the Will. She had, earlier, written of Riefenstahl's work in more admiring terms in Against Interpretation: "The Nazi propaganda is there. But something else is there, too, which we reject at our loss." But this time she'd been asked to review a book of Riefenstahl's photography of the Nuba tribes in Sudan, and the bland indifference of the jacket copy provoked her.
Johnny Depp took his reputation for eccentricity a little too far last week. Interviewed in the November issue of Vanity Fair, the actor appeared to let his guard down when discussing photo shoots with writer Nick Tosches, a long-time friend and a godparent to one of Depp’s kids. “Well, you just feel like you’re being raped somehow,” the actor said. “Raped. The whole thing. It feels like a kind of weird—just weird, man. Weird. Like you meet people and they say, 'Can I have a picture with you!' And that's great. That's fine. That's not a problem. But whenever you have a photo shoot or something like that, it’s [...]
Top row: Dorothy Parker, Zora Neale Hurston, Shirley Jackson, Gael Greene. Bottom row: Patti Smith, Susan Sontag, Tama Janowitz, Kate Christensen.
In 1967, Patti Smith wrote in Just Kids, she was considering a move to New York City. "I had enough money for a one-way ticket. I planned to hit all the bookstores in the city. This seemed ideal work to me." Twenty-seven years before her, in 1940, Shirley Jackson and her soon-to-be husband Stanley Hyman graduated from Syracuse and moved to New York. According to this biography, "For quite some time they had known exactly what they were going to do: move to New York [...]
In the latest installment of what is somehow the Internet's only cooking and book chat show, Emily Gould chats with author Sigrid Nunez about her new book, Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag, which is brand new, out this week, so get it right now, it's short and terrific!
Cooking the Books is directed by Valerie Temple and shot and edited by Andrew Gauthier. You can see all the Cooking the Books episodes here or even subscribe via iTunes. Previously: Emma Rathbone Makes Strawberry Wafer Cookies; Doogie Horner Makes "Gettin' Laid Lemonade," Emily Gould and Tao [...]