In Dubai, I was taken for a prostitute. It was late, maybe midnight, far away from the city center in a bizarre hotel–a sprawling, deserted complex next to the largest horseracing track in the world. No races were scheduled that weekend, and the place was empty.
Ann Petry never liked the way she looked. She hated having her picture taken, and she despised the attention that went along with celebrity. Yet the limelight found her immediately upon the 1946 publication of her novel The Street, the first novel written by an African American woman to sell over a million copies.
John Ashbery’s 1971 ArtNews review of Four Americans in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition of Stein family collections, is the closest he ever came to spending an afternoon in Gertrude Stein’s company at 27 rue de Fleurus. He had arrived in Paris too late, nine years after Stein’s death in 1946, and this immersive show was a chance to experience a small part of what he had missed.
There are few subjects more difficult to think lucidly about at the beginning of the twenty-first century than myth. The term has suffered two extreme forms of intellectual degradation, forms which, in the history of ideas, often manifest side by side: a kind of mandarin idealization on the one hand, and an equal and opposite commonsense dismissal on the other.
Although the walls of just about every room in my house are covered with artwork and books, my most treasured possessions are in my bedroom: a wooden crucifix hanging directly over the head of my bed (“Made in France” is carved on the back).
In 1972, through her interest in the work of the Nicaraguan-Salvadoran writer Claribel Alegría, the poet Carolyn Forché met Leonel Gómez Vides, a Salvadoran political activist, and became involved in the fight for Salvadoran freedom.
Sometime in 1945, Salvador Dalí paid a visit to the Barnes Foundation, then located on the outskirts of Philadelphia, and stood transfixed in front of a painting by Henri Matisse called Madras Rouge. Alfred Barnes was immensely proud of this acquisition and was keen to show it to Dalí.
One late summer afternoon, I am sitting on top of a mountain in northern Sweden. The ocean below me is calm and stretches toward an open horizon. There is no other human being in sight and barely a sound can be heard. Only a solitary seagull is gliding on the wind.
When you drive north on Route 1, the prison begins to loom on your right as you approach Rahway. Originally (it opened in 1901) known as Rahway State Prison, because local notables objected to being identified with a prison it became East Jersey State Prison.