Subtly violent, at times quite bizarre, Alfred Döblin’s stories of romantic futurism reinforce fairly everything that one has come to assume about German literature. The author, most known and best-loved for his modernist masterpiece, Berlin Alexanderplatz, a darkly epic tale of a convicted man’s struggle with the criminal underworld, is celebrated today as one Germany’s most important figures of the European literati. His stories are often Faustian, disturbing probes into the darker recesses of the psyche which turn up many unpleasant truths.
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His rise to fame was spectacular but brief; as the lead in Berry Gordy’s deathless, runaway cult hit The Last Dragon, Taimak delivered audiences a character whose slash and burn approach to the martial arts was strangely offset by his quiet, unassuming charm. In Bruce Leroy, Taimak created an anomaly of personalities, housed in an individual who became emblematic of the contradiction to black stereotypes in film presented at the time.
The year of the film’s release, 1985, came and went. And it seemed that Taimak did, too. What should have been a meteoric rise to fame was, in fact, a quickly extinguished flame.
Novella Carpenter is best known for her 2009 memoir, Farm City, wherein she details her decision to squat farm the empty lot beside her rental. That this land is located in one of Oakland, California’s worst neighborhoods only adds to the madcap quality of Carpenter’s choice.
Make no mistake, however, she is utterly serious about life off the grid in one of the country’s grittiest cities. Farm City won Carpenter a lot of readers with her humor, honesty, and earthy refusal of consumerist values.
Having originally appeared in The Paris Review‘s 2009 Summer Issue, a photograph of an ornate shirt board that Gay Talese used as a notebook for his now legendary 1966 Esquire story, “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold”, was heavily circulated via social media networks in February. In a special anniversary edition of Esquire that also featured Talese’s marked-up boards, the editors in 2003 called his artful profile of Sinatra the best story that the magazine had ever published.
Maurice Sendak (1928-2012).
A master dies, and everyone musters to analyse his contribution to children’s literature. Probably, it can be summed up by the way in which he tapped into childhood memories, dreams, dramas – awake and asleep; this ability makes Sendak’s work so influential. I don’t recall his most famous book, Where The Wild Things Are (1963) nearly so much as I remember the imprint of the much criticized In The Night Kitchen (1970) on my childhood recollections of reading.
Max, the hero of Wild Things, was just a naughty boy. I did not relate to him in the way that I found the intimidating and surreal landscape of Mickey’s adventures in the Night Kitchen more impactful. So, what that says about me I’m not sure! (Paging Dr. Freud!)