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  • Gael Garcia Bernal’s ‘Chicuarotes’ Picked up by Cinepolis Distribution October 19, 2018
    Cinepolis Distribution, the distribution arm of Mexican exhibition giant Cinepolis, has picked up all Latin American rights to “Chicuarotes,” the second feature helmed by award-winning multi hyphenate Gael Garcia Bernal. The film, described as a dark comedy, is produced by Garcia Bernal via his new shingle with partner Diego Luna, La Corriente del Golfo, alo […]
    John Hopewell
  • ‘God Friended Me,’ ‘The Neighborhood,’ ‘Magnum P.I.’ Land Full-Season Orders From CBS October 19, 2018
    CBS has picked up “God Friended Me,” “The Neighborhood,” “Magnum P.I.” for full seasons. “God Friended Me” is  averaging more than 10 million viewers per episode. The single-camera comedy stars Brandon Micheal Hall, Violett Beane, Suraj Sharma, Javicia Leslie and Joe Morton. Steven Lilien, Bryan Wynbrandt, Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Marcos Siega are […]
    Daniel Holloway
  • Film Review: ‘Galveston’ October 19, 2018
    Let’s say you come across gritty desperadoes-on-the-run thriller “Galveston,” maybe flipping channels or because you decided to take a gamble and buy the Ben Foster-Elle Fanning drama on-demand. Watching the tough, Gulf of Mexico road movie unfold — burning slow and even from Louisiana to its title Texas destination like a lit cigarette in a dead […] […]
    Peter Debruge
  • Experience the Cyclopean Architecture, Haunting Horror of Cthulhu October 19, 2018
    If tentacled-horror and exestential dread are your brands of Halloween scares, than Cyanide Studios official adaptation of the “Call of Cthulhu” pen-and-paper role-playing game, may be just what the mysterious doctor ordered. The Preview to Madness trailer celebrates that the upcoming game has gone gold and is expected to hit the PlayStation 4, Windows PC, [ […]
    Brian Crecente
  • SAG-AFTRA Reaches Tentative Deal on Sound Recordings Contract October 19, 2018
    SAG-AFTRA and the major record labels reached a tentative three-year agreement on a successor contract to the SAG-AFTRA National Code of Fair Practice for Sound Recordings. The deal was reached late Thursday after two days of bargaining in New Orleans. Negotiations began in April — three months after expiration of the current deal — in […]
    Dave McNary
  • ‘Halloween’ to Make a Killing With Opening Weekend in Mid-$70 Millions October 19, 2018
    Jamie Lee Curtis’ “Halloween” is looking to slice up an opening weekend of as high as $75 million at 3,928 North American locations, early estimates showed Friday. Universal’s R-rated slasher film is on its way to posting the second-highest October launch of all time, bested only by the $80 million opening of Tom Hardy’s “Venom” […]
    Dave McNary
  • ‘The Talk’ Co-Host Eve Says Julie Chen’s Exit Was ‘Extremely Hard’ October 19, 2018
    Following the ousting of CBS chairman-CEO Leslie Moonves over sexual misconduct allegations, his wife Julie Chen announced her exit as co-host from the network’s daytime show “The Talk” in September. Her former co-host, rapper Eve, told Variety that it has been “extremely hard” without Chen. “It was extremely hard, because of the things that we talk about,” […]
    Meredith Woerner
  • Atari Releasing Wood Veneered Portable 2600 October 19, 2018
    Iconic gaming brand Atari is returning with two new products in time for the holidays. The Atari Retro Handheld and Atari Plug & Play Joystick offer a selection of classic Atari games for play at home or on the go. The handheld, priced at £34.99, takes 50 classic titles and packs the into a portable […]
    Brittany Vincent
  • NBC Announces Date for 2019 Billboard Music Awards October 19, 2018
    Though fall has only just set in, NBC is already anticipating springtime with the announcement of The 2019 Billboard Music Awards. The network announced Friday that the awards will air live on Wednesday, May 1 on NBC. The three hour telecast will begin at 8 p.m. EST, with a delayed broadcast airing on the West […]
    Margeaux Sippell
  • Amazon Names James Farrell Head of International Originals October 19, 2018
    Amazon Studios has named James Farrell head of international originals. Previously head of content, international expansion for the e-commerce giant’s entertainment arm, Farrell will, in his new role, lead the international original teams in Japan, India, Europe, Mexico and Brazil as well as future locations. “We’ve had significant success in this area to da […]
    Daniel Holloway

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The Grand Tour

Top Book News provided by The New York Review of Books©

  • History for a Post-Fact America
    Jill Lepore's new history of America comes at a time when many readers will have a nagging sense of living through a historical moment themselves, whatever that means (the details somehow “organic to the period” yet still lost to us). It also arrives as the raw materials of history seem to be losing their hold. “The era of the fact,” Lepore wrote in The New Yorker two years ago, “is coming to an end.”
  • MLK: What We Lost
    It might be hard for younger generations of Americans in 2018, fifty years after Martin Luther King’s assassination, to fathom just how controversial a figure he was during his career, and particularly around the time of his death. That is because King’s image has undergone a remarkable transformation in these five decades. He and the movement he helped to lead have been absorbed into a triumphant story of American exceptionalism, in which the actions of individual people matter less than the dynamism of the supposedly inexorable wave of human progress that swept the country forward from the Declaration of Independence to the civil rights movement. The strength of the opposition to civil rights for blacks, the antagonizing and discomfiting words King used, and the aggressively disruptive tactics he and his supporters employed have been pushed into the background. King now fits so comfortably into the present-day popular understanding of American history that one might think that nearly all Americans had supported him enthusiastically from the very start, and that his murder was a tragic event unmoored from any wider opposition to his activities.
  • Who Will Speak for the Democrats?
    Nancy Pelosi believes she has one more great task left in her long career—saving American democracy. If, as expected, the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives on November 6, Pelosi may become the first Speaker to regain the position in more than six decades. And at what a moment: Pelosi and the House Democrats believe—and a huge number of voters agree—that they are all that stands between the future of the republic and the broad-based assault on democratic values led by Donald Trump, one of the few people in Washington who’s demonized even more than Pelosi is.
  • Abbott’s Absence
    To the Editors: In her review of Berenice Abbott: A Life in Photography, Regina Marler claims that Abbott does not appear in Man Ray’s autobiography, Self-Portrait (1963), and that the omission was, according to Abbott, “rather dirty,” even “bitchy.” But on page 92, she does appear, and in a very positive light.
  • Walter Who?
    To the Editors: Please forgive the extreme delay of this letter in response to Nathaniel Rich’s review of Walter Kirn’s book about me. To the whole business I can only say that I barely ever knew Mr. Kirn.
  • The Khashoggi Killing: America’s Part in a Saudi Horror
    This brazen killing did not occur in isolation. If it was the “game-changer” that many see, it was also the latest, most extreme manifestation of a repressive regime that has acted with virtual impunity while maintaining enviably close ties to Washington. The Saudis did what they did because they assumed they could get away with it. And President Trump appears as keen to let MBS off the hook as the crown prince is to evade responsibility. Yet, with the president’s Iran policy at stake, even an angry Congress may be reluctant to take more drastic steps against Riyadh. If that is the case, the barbaric assassination of Khashoggi may go down as a different kind of game-changer: not the end of the US–Saudi relationship, but the moment when it was exposed for what it really is.
  • Bringing Poetry to the Cruel History of Comfort Women
    On August 14, Korea and Taiwan unveiled two statues commemorating the 80,000 to 200,000 “comfort women,” primarily from Korea, but also from Taiwan, China, and Southeast Asia, who were forced into prostitution by the Japanese army during World War II. Into this fractious space comes a new poetry collection by Korean-born poet Emily Jungmin Yoon. By fluidly adopting the voices of those who experienced the comfort system, Yoon shares stories that were silenced for decades.
  • Why Assad and Russia Target the White Helmets
    The White Helmets’ financial backing is not the real reason why the pro-Assad camp is so bent on defaming them. Since 2015, the year the Russians began fighting in Syria, the White Helmets have been filming attacks on opposition-held areas with GoPro cameras affixed to their helmets. Syria and Russia have claimed they were attacking only terrorists, yet the White Helmets have captured footage of dead and injured women and children under the rubble. Putin’s bombers have targeted civilians, schools, hospitals, and medical facilities in opposition-held areas, a clear violation of international law. “This, above all, is what the Russians hated,” Ben Nimmo, a fellow at the Atlantic Council, told me. “That the White Helmets are filming war crimes.”
  • Berlin, 1918–1919: Käthe Kollwitz, Witness to History
    Berlin, 1918. You can feel the “terrible divisions today,” Kollwitz notes in her diary. There are daily mass protests, demonstrations and violence in Berlin. Even those crippled in the war are putting their wounds on public display and taking their demands to the streets, chanting: “We don’t want pity—we want justice!” The social democratic movement is about to split, and the Allies have refused to enter into peace negotiations or even deliver food to Germany until a democratically elected government is in place. In her heart, Kollwitz supports the communist groups without whom the war would not have ended or the Kaiser been driven from power. Like the radical leftists, she hopes the revolution will continue rather than settle for the status quo. But her head knows that Germany is on the verge of breaking apart.
  • Matters of Tolerance
    What makes precision a feature of the modern world is the transition from craftsmanship to mass production. The genius of machine tools—as opposed to mere machines—lies in their repeatability. Artisans of shoes or tables or even clocks can make things exquisite and precise, “but their precision was very much for the few,” Simon Winchester writes. “It was only when precision was created for the many that precision as a concept began to have the profound impact on society as a whole that it does today.”
  • An Enduring Shame
    According to The Trials of Nina McCall: Sex, Surveillance, and the Decades-Long Government Plan to Imprison “Promiscuous” Women, a new book by the law student Scott Stern, a shocking number of American girls and women were locked up beginning in the 1910s as part of the now completely forgotten “American Plan,” a governmental effort to combat venereal disease. Stern happened upon this unnerving piece of history largely by accident when he was an undergraduate poking around the stacks of the Yale libraries. His curiosity piqued, he spent almost a decade digging into archival collections, visiting decaying rural towns, and interviewing people in their living rooms, trying to understand what this program was and what its human cost might have been.
  • In Urgent Color: Emil Nolde’s Expressionism
    Profoundly influenced by Van Gogh and later by Munch, Emil Nolde (1867–1956) rejected Impressionism—which catches the external impression of a scene—in favor of Expressionism, which tries to convey the artist’s inner response, using exaggeration and distortion to delve into the nature of being. Yet Nolde seems to go even further, to be in love with the “expressiveness” of paint itself, its power to manipulate emotions, to delight, inflame, provoke.
  • Paul Simon: Fathers, Sons, Troubled Water
    Unlike silly songs for children by, say, Raffi, or maudlin songs for parents like Dylan’s “Forever Young” or Cat Stevens’s “Father and Son”—two ballads eager to preserve their singers’ sons in amber—Paul Simon had genuinely intergenerational appeal. He shared with us young passengers the joyful and terrible news of adulthood with patty-cake rhymes (“mama pajama,” “drop off the key, Lee”) and jaunty rhythms, scored by a panoply of ludicrous and wonderful-sounding instruments—from the hooting cuíca in “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” to the triumphant parade drums of “The Obvious Child.”
  • Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s Would-be Dictator
    For most of his political career, Jair Bolsonaro has been a fringe figure on the far right of Brazilian politics, hopping among nine different political parties and yelling his support for Brazil’s bygone military dictatorship into empty congressional chambers. All that has changed. Last weekend, the former army captain came close to an outright win in the presidential election’s first round. He goes forward to the run-off on October 28 as the clear favorite. Brazil has been a democracy since 1989, but for the preceding quarter-century it was ruled by a brutal military regime. Bolsonaro is not merely nostalgic for that era; he would reintroduce the dictatorship’s political ethos, preserved and intact, into modern Brazil.
  • Devil
    They told us a story about the devil, mala cosa, small in stature with a beard whose face they could never see clearly who traveled from house to house with a flaming piece of wood, who stole whomever he wanted and, with a flint, gave them three incisions…
  • Using Psychoanalysis to Understand #MeToo Memories
    Part of the disconnect in appreciating how and why allegations of sexual harassment and assault arise as and when they do has to do with our culture’s understanding of trauma. We are accustomed to thinking that trauma happens in real time; the harm itself occurs at the time of the scarring event. This is the most widely held understanding of how trauma works, but psychoanalysis offers an alternate conception of trauma: specifically about how a traumatic experience can mean quite different things for the same individual over time.
  • An Explosion of Pure Fact
    Berlin Alexanderplatz was published in Germany in 1929. It was a novel bearing the name of a giant train station, and its immediate notoriety was due to its aura of metropolitan switchback and speed. No one, it seemed, had reproduced the wild cancan of a city with such meticulously wild techniques. In the nickelodeon theaters, audiences went to watch a quick-change succession of shorts—and now here, so argued its admirers, was the nickelodeon’s novelistic equivalent. Its author, Alfred Döblin, the son of a Jewish tailor from Stettin who practiced as a doctor, was a star of the Expressionist movement. His schtick was garish prose, tonal dissonance, and outlandish subjects: psychosis, suicide, lesbian murderers, anarchist revolution in eighteenth-century China. With Berlin Alexanderplatz, Döblin used his garish effects on his own drab neighborhood, the working-class environs of Alexanderplatz, and in the process created his most famous and influential work.
  • Abolish ICE: Beyond a Slogan
    There were nationwide demonstrations in June, and placards calling to “Abolish ICE” were ubiquitous. The movement to abolish ICE has repeatedly been dismissed as little more than the left’s “new rallying cry,” accompanied by the accusation that the slogan lacks “a real plan.” But there are existing and emerging models for what it looks like to chip away at ICE and put something else in its place: there can be a community-based alternative to a violent immigration system.
  • The Bloomsbury Group’s Most Famous Work of Art
    To visit Charleston, a farmhouse that the Bloomsbury Group transformed into their most famous work of art, is to be transported back in time. It has been open to the public since 1986, but it has just launched its first exhibition and event spaces, along with a new restaurant. At the same time, under Charleston’s modern guise as a tourist heritage site—having become a destination for day-trippers, complete with café and gift shop—it’s easy to overlook just how radically the members of the Bloomsbury Group lived their lives.
  • The Autocracy App
    Facebook is a company that has lost control—not of its business, which has suffered remarkably little from its series of unfortunate events since the 2016 election, but of its consequences. Its old slogan, “Move fast and break things,” was changed a few years ago to the less memorable “Move fast with stable infra.” Around the world, however, Facebook continues to break many things indeed. In Myanmar, hatred whipped up on Facebook Messenger has driven ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya. In India, false child abduction rumors on Facebook’s WhatsApp service have incited mobs to lynch innocent victims. In the Philippines, Turkey, and other receding democracies, gangs of “patriotic trolls” use Facebook to spread disinformation and terrorize opponents. And in the United States, the platform’s advertising tools remain conduits for subterranean propaganda.
  • Uncanny Encounter: Haley Fohr’s ‘Salomé’
    In the last ten years, Haley Fohr, a composer and vocalist who usually performs under the name Circuit des Yeux, has created an extraordinary musical language. Cloaked in a warm haze of analog tape and antique reverbs, her records sound like they could have been made at any point since the late 1960s. They share traits with psychedelia, the acoustic guitar patterns of folk music, and even the dirges of doom metal, and are impossible to place within any particular genre, style, or era. Despite her sonic experimentation and her refusal to be locked into a particular style, it is Fohr’s preternaturally deep voice that has most amazed listeners, inspiring comparisons to genre-defying male singers like Scott Walker and Tim Buckley, as well as female singers like Nina Simone and even Billie Holiday.
  • Smoke, Wind, and Fire
    After my wife Nancy uses the car, she comes home and plugs it in, “like a toaster.” If we plan a long trip, we leave it plugged in for two nights and the Bolt is fully charged. The bridge across the Rio Grande is about a mile from our house, and from there the road is a straight shot, an eye-popping ride through the desert, only on this trip, it was more of an eye strain. The Jemez, the mountain range close to us, was enveloped in a haze. “Smoke,” said Nancy. Apparently, there was a wildfire, normal now in the summer, and the smoke had drifted into the valley and covered the mountains.
  • My Great-Grandfather the Bundist
    Though the Bund was largely obliterated by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, the group’s opposition to Zionism better explains its absence from current consciousness. The Bund celebrated Jews as a nation, but they irreconcilably opposed the establishment of Israel as a separate Jewish homeland in Palestine. The diaspora was home, the Bund argued. Jews could never escape their problems by the dispossession of others. Instead, Bundists adhered to the doctrine of do’ikayt or “Hereness.” Jews had the right to live in freedom and dignity wherever it was they stood.
  • The Red Baron
    Inspired by the meritocratic ideal, many people these days are committed to a view of how the hierarchies of money and status in our world should be organized. We think that jobs should go not to people who have connections or pedigree but to those best qualified for them, regardless of their background. Occasionally, we’ll allow for exceptions—for positive discrimination, say, to help undo the effects of previous discrimination. But such exceptions are provisional: when the bigotries of sex, race, class, and caste are gone, the exceptions will cease to be warranted. We’ve rejected the old class society. In moving toward the meritocratic ideal, we have imagined that we have retired the old encrustations of inherited hierarchies. As the sociologist Michael Young knew, that’s not the real story.
  • What to Expect When a Woman Accuses a Man in Power
    Last week, the world gazed on as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified against a man backed by the strongest political forces in America. I couldn’t watch. Last year, I was the woman giving evidence against one of the most powerful men in my nation’s political life. They told me I was malicious, that I was seeking feminist celebrity, that I was deceived by my own false memory. I knew I was not. In the end, a government inquiry agreed with me. Here are six things that happen when you accuse a senior political figure of misconduct.
  • In the Review Archives: 1995–1999
    To celebrate the Review’s fifty-fifth anniversary we have been featuring some notable articles from the magazine’s archives. Today we travel back to the late 1990s, when Garry Wills investigated the origins and meaning of the Second Amendment, Hilary Mantel reviewed Margaret Atwood’s novel Alias Grace, Martin Filler assessed the new Getty Center in Los Angeles, Alma Guillermoprieto reported on the state of Cuba after four decades of Fidel Castro, and Joyce Carol Oates considered four books about the murder of JonBenét Ramsey.
  • Catching Up to Pauli Murray
    Since Pauli Murray’s autobiography, Song in a Weary Throat, first appeared in 1987, changing realities—the election of a black president and the major-party presidential candidacy of a woman, the shocking violence of Ferguson, Charleston, and Charlottesville, the tragic deaths of young black men like Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown, the emerging struggle over transgender rights from gender-neutral bathrooms to the military—have challenged us to look anew at the issues of race, gender, and sexuality that defined Murray’s life.
  • A Letter from Contributors
    To the Editors: As contributors to The New York Review of Books we are writing to express our dismay at the departure of Ian Buruma from the editorship of the Review.
  • The Suffocation of Democracy
    Whatever secret reservations Mitch McConnell and other traditional Republican leaders have about Trump’s character, governing style, and possible criminality, they openly rejoice in the payoff they have received from their alliance with him and his base: huge tax cuts for the wealthy, financial and environmental deregulation, the nominations of two conservative Supreme Court justices (so far) and a host of other conservative judicial appointments, and a significant reduction in government-sponsored health care (though not yet the total abolition of Obamacare they hope for). Like Hitler’s conservative allies, McConnell and the Republicans have prided themselves on the early returns on their investment in Trump.
  • Responses to ‘Reflections from a Hashtag’
    The article by Jian Ghomeshi, “Reflections from a Hashtag,” has prompted considerable criticism from readers. We recognize the validity of this criticism. While Mr. Ghomeshi has a right to express his opinions, we acknowledge our failures in the presentation and editing of his story. Below is a representative sample of the letters we have received.—The Editorial Staff
  • Robert Venturi: Visionary Mannerist of Main Street
    One of the consuming questions in architecture during the mid-twentieth century was whether or not what was once known as the building art could be reoriented from the technological preoccupations of the High Modernists and focused on more humane and aesthetic concerns. Venturi and Scott Brown, along with their teacher and employer Louis Kahn, did more to bring about this change than any of their peers, and the importance of what has, as a result of their all living there, been called the Philadelphia School, continues to influence the built environment in countless ways. Rather than being ironic and condescending, the partners’ commercial and quotidian borrowings represented their belief that “Main Street is almost all right,” and that there is much to be learned from popular taste.
  • ‘Called Back to the World’: An Interview with Alice Walker
    Salamishah Tillet: Why did you title your new collection Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart? In your introduction, you mention that it was originally going to be called The Long Road Home. Alice Walker: I think that I was called back to the world. I was called back to the reality that people are suffering so deeply and that many people are not even calm enough and centered enough to contemplate the long road home. They’re still fighting with the arrow that they have been pierced with. About the media and the reality of what is happening on the planet, the murder of children, the abuse of the earth, the ocean, everything.
  • The Danish Tolstoy
    On the occasion of his seventieth birthday in 1927, Henrik Pontoppidan was lauded by Thomas Mann in an open letter to the Danish newspaper Politiken, describing him as “a full-blooded storyteller who scrutinizes our lives and society so intensely that he ranks within the highest class of European writers.” In August, a cinematic adaption of Lykke-Per by the Academy-Award winning director Billie August opened in Danish theaters. And yet, Pontoppidan’s writing has remained almost entirely unavailable to English-language readers.
  • The Radio Auteur: Joe Frank, Ira Glass, and Narrative Radio
    Through his broadcasts over the course of forty years, Joe Frank, who died at seventy-nine this past January, brought the notion of the auteur to American radio. His legacy lives on in the work of Ira Glass, and Glass’s own outsize influence on radio and now podcasting, where many of the best shows don’t aim to break news or provide trenchant analysis. Instead, they prize, above all, narrative tension and surprise. It’s in Frank's approach to radio itself, the sense of radio not as a medium of mass communication, a place for traffic reports and newscasts, but rather as a site for artistic expression as fertile as the canvas or page.
  • The Innocence of Abu Zubaydah
    The “facts” recounted above to justify his torture were all false. Abu Zubaydah was no lieutenant to Osama bin Laden. He held no position in al-Qaeda, senior or otherwise. He had no part in September 11 or any other al-Qaeda operations. He did not operate a network of al-Qaeda camps, open an al-Qaeda cell in Jordan, or manage al-Qaeda’s external communications. He did not draft any resistance manual, for al-Qaeda or anyone else, and had no special expertise in resisting interrogations. The government no longer maintains that these assertions are true, and now concedes that Abu Zubaydah was never a member of al-Qaeda. Yet the United States is content that he should be forgotten, out of sight and out of mind. And for this, the government relies on people continuing to imagine him a monster.
  • Peter Fryer & ‘Thinking Black’
    Before the 1980s, a manuscript that began, as Fryer’s Staying Power did, with the sentence “There were Africans in Britain before the English came here” would have been deemed laughable, heretical nonsense. With the exception of a handful of intellectuals like Stuart Hall and Paul Gilroy, there were few black authors or historians, to my knowledge, writing about the history of black people in Britain. Into that vacuum walked Peter Fryer, a white journalist. But his color appears more important now than it did in 1984. It’s doubtful whether, in today’s political climate, a British publisher would be rushing to print such a manuscript by a white author.
  • Inside the Mayo Clinic
    The Mayo has long been ranked among the best hospitals in the United States, widely treated even by those who’ve never been there as the ultimate medical authority, as well as last resort. When my father, in his thirties, was dying from a little-understood disease, the query always posed—breathlessly so—was, “Have you tried the Mayo?” When I arrived as a patient myself, I was told that Ken Burns had just left. In his new documentary, The Mayo Clinic: Faith—Hope—Science, the filmmaker ascribes the institution’s success to groundbreaking advances in both medicine and its delivery: the human side of care.
  • Mike Pence, Star Witness
    To date, Mike Pence has played the part of deferential deputy to a president who, above all, demands loyalty from his subordinates. But it is clear from this new account that the vice president interceded forcefully with the president about firing Flynn. And it is also clear that Pence was in command of the facts about whether Flynn had lied to him, and possibly to the FBI, and was under criminal investigation. If Special Counsel Robert Mueller chooses to question the vice president, Pence could become the most important witness not yet heard from in the special counsel’s investigation of President Trump for possible obstruction of justice.
  • ‘I Can’t Believe I’m in Saudi Arabia’
    In June the circus came to town. Nothing remarkable, you might think, except that the town was Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, where until two years ago all forms of entertainment were banned. The mutaween—the religious police—had carefully vetted the circus I attended, and the ankle-length black leggings and sparkly long sleeves of the lady with the dancing Dalmatians had passed muster, as had the body-hugging dark costumes worn by a group of androgynous flamenco-style dancers. It was a particular joy to be in the audience, watching the delight of both children and adults, oohing and aahing at the tightrope walkers and convulsing with laughter at an act involving a large poodle leaping in and out of a garbage can. In the intermission I canvassed opinion. It was a few days after women had been permitted to drive legally for the first time, and spectators understood that this was about more than the right to go to the Big Top.
  • Chris Ofili: Caged in Paradise
    Since he moved to Trinidad, Chris Ofili has absorbed the prismatic colors of the tropics—you can’t not here. But he determined not to traffic, in his work, in the noontime brightness that is its own kind of Caribbean cliché. His most potent works dwell in the blue-black hues of the twelve hours per day when the bougainvillea and creepers are cloaked in dark. Something else that’s caught his eye here are two kinds of cages. One of these is the kind that holds birds—the wire abodes that house Macaws and Picoplats and, especially, rust-bellied finches that adorn porches and whose cages you can see men in sandals toting down the road at dusk. The other kind is meant to contain humans. It’s the form of cage that people have fashioned from and around their homes.
  • Bodys Isek Kingelez: Building Fantasy
    In the late 1970s, the Congolese sculptor Bodys Isek Kingelez (1948-2015) began crafting what he called “extreme maquettes,” fantastical buildings constructed out of whatever he could get his hands on. He built most of these—now on view at "City Dreams"—in the city of his birth, Kinshasa, then-Zaire, where he lived and worked as a teacher and museum conservator before becoming a full-time artist. "City Dreams" lists Kingelez’s materials (a small selection: paper, corrugated cardboard, styrofoam, bottle caps, metal grommets, ballpoint pen shafts) but suggests that there are further mysteries to his work. Out of these modest ingredients Kingelez creates a whole world, entirely his own.
  • ‘The Soul as a Picture Gallery’: Mid-Century African-American Portraits
    At the entrance to the Met’s exhibition of mid-twentieth-century African-American photographs, a small placard politely asks for help: “Does someone look familiar? Please kindly send your suggestion.” A sense of loss shadows the request to identify the subjects. It is a reminder that these portraits were mislaid or discarded and eventually ended up at the Rose Bowl Flea Market in California and other resting places for the forgotten, where the Met’s buyers eventually found them. Though salvaged, the images remain tinted by this history, their anonymity like a kind of sepia.
  • ‘My Button Works!’
    It’s a bullish time for executive power. President Donald Trump’s conception of it is so expansive that he has asserted that he can pardon himself. The Supreme Court has reinforced that conception by upholding Trump’s blatantly anti-Muslim executive order restricting immigration. Trump’s belief that presidential authority is practically monarchical, his belligerent posturing toward countries such as Iran and North Korea, and his cavalier disregard for legal procedure have made many observers wonder if he will try to start a catastrophic war, and what safeguards exist to constrain him if he does.
  • Pushing Against the Apocalypse
    “It seemed that Lessing was a writer to discover in your thirties; a writer who wrote about the lives of grown-up women with an honesty and fullness I had not found in any novelist before or since,” Lara Feigel writes in the opening pages of her memoir Free Woman: Life, Liberation, and Doris Lessing. Feigel returns to The Golden Notebook during summer wedding season. After “white weddings, gold weddings; weddings in village churches, on beaches, at woolen mills,” she finds herself wondering: Is this it? Why do her friends seem so eager to throw their selves away for a man or a family? “They began by identifying as part of a couple and then once a child arrived they identified themselves primarily as mothers.” She is happily married and trying for a second child. Yet she begins to resent “the apparent assumption that this remained the only way to live.”
  • Alone with Elizabeth Bishop
    “When you write my epitaph,” Elizabeth Bishop famously told the poet Robert Lowell in 1974, “you must say I was the loneliest person who ever lived.” But being lonely and being alone are not the same, and Bishop recognized from a young age that there was something special, even salvific, about the latter. “There is a peculiar quality about being alone, an atmosphere that no sounds or persons can ever give,” she wrote in her 1929 essay, “… in being alone, the mind finds its Sea, the wide, quiet plane with different lights in the sky and different, more secret sounds.” I understood this sentiment well, the special beauty of the blue hours when you are, by choice, alone, and the candle of your self burns in a way it never quite can when you are with someone else.
  • Not Plants But Silkworms
    To the Editors: Ronald Lanner’s letter purportedly correcting a point in Tim Flannery’s article “Raised by Wolves” itself requires a correction.
  • Nuclear Disagreements
    To the Editors: Jessica T. Mathews’s “Singapore Sham” correctly notes North Korea’s failure to halt plutonium production as part of the 1994 Agreed Framework, but fails to mention US violations.

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The Grand Tour