Tomi Ungerer

I've enjoyed Tomi Ungerer's illustrations since I was little. I remember having Fog Island in the little reading center at St. Catherine's Academy. It seemed like a mistake: the illustrations were so dark and the story so ominous to me as a young girl, I felt like I was getting away with reading something that shouldn't have been available to me. As an adult, I've come to love and admire Ungerer not just for his children's books (of which there are many, and unfortunately many out of print), but for his art in general and his extraordinary life. Growing up in Hitler's Germany, immigrating to New York, and becoming friends with Maurice Sendak (they shared an editor) are only some of the fascinating things to learn about this tremendous artist and thinker. His political posters and erotic posters have been banned and remain as powerful today as they did in the 50s and 60s. I gift his books to friends as often as possible. Listen to his interview with Terri Gross for Fresh Air, and watch Far Out Isn't Far Enough, the documentary about him. Pictured above: Three Robbers Pictured below: Moon Man ...

Dashiell Hammett Tour

My son is named for (though spelled differently) Dashiell Hammett. I didn't know this tour existed until today, it makes me quite happy. If you are interested in the best mystery writing around, check him out. If you're interested in how American writers led the charge in post-war politics, read on. Brilliant man. ...

The Importance of W.H. Auden

Auden is probably my favorite poet next to Wallace Stevens. My older son's middle name is Auden. I come back to his work several times a year, perhaps more frequently than any other writer, because his voice is perennially perfect. My favorite work is Age of Anxiety. Two wonderful things to spend time with if you're interested in getting to know him better: "Tell Me the Truth About Love", a documentary about Auden on YouTube, and this wonderful piece "The Secret Auden" which reveals some incredible private stories about the man, who he was in private, and how hard he worked to hold some of that back from the public. My favorite story involves him quietly gifting a manuscript to a friend in need of medical care he couldn't afford. The manuscript was sold to the University of Texas and the friend received the treatment he needed. Lots more wonderful stories in that piece. And of course you should listen to him recite "As I Walked Out One Evening". ...

David Grubbs, Records Ruin the Landscape: John Cage, the Sixties, and Sound Recording

"What does it mean to describe a recording as being of a moment in which it did not circulate? Conversely, what does it mean to describe previously inaccessible music as participating in a later moment in which it resonates more powerfully?" Sign up to get notified when the book is ready to order. From the Duke Press about the book: John Cage's disdain for records was legendary. He repeatedly spoke of the ways in which recorded music was antithetical to his work. In Records Ruin the Landscape, David Grubbs argues that, following Cage, new genres in experimental and avant-garde music in the 1960s were particularly ill suited to be represented in the form of a recording. These activities include indeterminate music, long-duration minimalism, text scores, happenings, live electronic music, free jazz, and free improvisation. How could these proudly evanescent performance practices have been adequately represented on an LP? In their day, few of these works circulated in recorded form. By contrast, contemporary listeners can encounter this music not only through a flood of LP and CD releases of archival recordings but also in even greater volume through Internet file sharing and online resources. Present-day listeners are coming to know that era's experimental music through the recorded artifacts of composers and musicians who largely disavowed recordings. In Records Ruin the Landscape, Grubbs surveys a musical landscape marked by altered listening practices. Read more at The Wire. ...