Sunday, June 30, 2019
Saturday, June 29, 2019
by Alain Elkann
The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity fights for human rights and peace and is anti-racism. It organizes lectures, conferences and annual meetings with other Nobel Prize awardees like Wiesel.
Wiesel arrives in his office followed by a bodyguard. There are several young people working in his Foundation, which he runs with his wife Marion. He is wearing his Grand Croix de la Légion d’Honneur decoration on the lapel of his navy blue corduroy jacket. Very few people around the world have reached this notably high distinction.
Friday, June 28, 2019
What a waist: why the corset has made a regrettable return
On the red carpet, on Instagram, even in Mothercare – corsets are everywhere. What is behind the disturbing trend for ‘waist training’?
hat could be more enjoyable after giving birth than slipping into some high heels and squeezing your postpartum body into a corset? Last week, Mothercare was accused of pandering to the pressure on new mothers to lose their pregnancy weight and remain “sexy” by selling a corset, modelled by a woman wearing patent leather platform stilettos. “I’m very anxious for women who are getting the wrong message,” Jacqui Tomkins, the chair of Independent Midwives UK, told the Times. “It’s saying the most important thing is for you to be back in shape, looking like Kim Kardashian. That worries me.” The company has since removed the product and image, but is still selling a lace-print band, described as a “tummy tucker”, to be worn around the stomach, which it claims “helps with slimming down”.Despite this furore, the corset has been creeping back into fashion for some time. In 2016, Prada revived the garment in a more utilitarian style, worn loosely laced over thick tailoring and sweaters. This style, while still designed to bring attention to a trim waist, was not rooted in old ideas of “sexiness”. But for autumn/winter 2019, fashion designers showed a more traditional style, with a return to full corsets and wide, waist-cinching belts.
Thursday, June 27, 2019
|Atefe Maleki Joo|
The Lady with the Lapdog
Written by Griselda Gambaro
Translated by Marguerite Feitlowitz
Illustrated by Atefe Maleki Joo
He’d met her in the square. Years ago when he retired he’d decided always to occupy to the same bench, opposite one tree whose name he didn’t know but which had a green crown he liked to look at, and under another whose leaves were sparse in winter and let in the sun.
The first time she sat down beside him, on his bench, he’d felt nothing more than condescending annoyance. Though occasionally someone else sat down there, some old guy looking for another old guy like himself, he always got his bench back right away. He’d snort, spit, make broad hints or else sink into aggressive silence, and the intruder would end up leaving. It was an inhospitable square, very open to the wind, and there were empty benches left. They can use those, he’d say to himself. He was no cow out to pasture with the herd, but a man committed to his solitude.
Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Why does Nicole Kidman undress in the opening shot of ‘Eyes Wide Shut’?
Stanley Kubrick’s last project Eyes Wide Shut (1999), which features Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise as a well-to-do Manhattan couple whose marriage is in trouble, is a cult work. It had a mixed critical reception on its first release, but since then its reputation as one of the director’s finest works has grown. The film is controversial for many reasons — as much to do with its production and reception as for its supposedly sensational sexual content, heavily hyped by Warner Bros. Like so many Kubrick films, Eyes Wide Shut confounds expectations and tests viewers to the limit. The director was a perfectionist and his attention to detail is legendary; one of the fascinations of his work is the pleasure of unpicking every nuance of image and sound in search of a definitive meaning — a quest destined to be frustrated. This is cinema for obsessive compulsives.
Eyes Wide Shut
by Stanley Kubrick
Opening scene (with Nicole Kidman & Tom Cruise)
Eyes Wide Shut is a 1999 erotic drama film directed, produced, and co-written by Stanley Kubrick.
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Monday, June 24, 2019
Sunday, June 23, 2019
by Pablo García
by Georges Simenon
Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness. I don't think an artist can ever be happy.“
Georges Simenon Interviewed in Paris Review, Summer 1955; reprinted in Malcolm Cowley (ed.) Writers at Work (New York: Viking Press, 1959) p. 146.
The fact that we are I don't know how many millions of people, yet communication, complete communication, is completely impossible between two of those people, is to me one of the biggest tragic themes in the world.
Georges Simenon Interviewed in Paris Review, Summer 1955; reprinted in Malcolm Cowley (ed.) Writers at Work (New York: Viking Press, 1959) p. 153.
We are all potentially characters in a novel - with the difference that characters in a novel really get to live their lives to the full.
It just happened. As though a moment comes when it's both necessary and natural to make a decision that has long since been made.
The place smelled of fairgrounds, of lazy crowds, of nights when you stayed out because you couldn't go to bed, and it smelled like New York, of its calm and brutal indifference.
I never read contemporary fiction – with one exception: the works of Simenon concerned with Inspector Maigret.
Saturday, June 22, 2019
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde - review
Although the mannered society of the late 1800s may seem far removed from that of today, I was struck by the similarities'
he saying "be careful what you wish for" has arguably never been more apt in literature than it is in this classic novel. When the young Victorian heartthrob Dorian Gray is influenced by Lord Henry Wotton's warning that he only has "a few years in which to live really, perfectly, and fully" due to the transiency of his youthful beauty, he wishes for his portrait to change with time instead.
Little does he know that he will soon stumble down the rocky road of moral corruption, committing one bad deed after another, destroying relationships with the people he meets at the same time as any good reputation he used to possess.
Although the mannered society of the late 1800s may seem far removed from that of today, I was struck by the similarities. For example, the obsession with self-image which leads to Dorian's wish in the first place can easily be associated with 2014 and how teenagers of today measure their attractiveness in the number of Facebook 'likes' on profile pictures. Just as Dorian wants to increase his social rank by going to the most fashionable dinner parties and plays with the highest class people, the popularity of people today is often reflected in the number of 'cool' parties they are invited to. The way Dorian's social aspirations lead to his downfall therefore makes the novel an interesting moral commentary. Rather than pursuing, as Dorian does, pleasure for its own sake with no regard for any people he may harm – such as his first love, the actress Sybil Vane – Wilde presents in Dorian's exploits an example of a man whose hedonistic principles should not be followed.
Having always been interested in the power of words to influence people - as Wilde himself observes: "Was there anything so real as words?" - the way Dorian follows such an immoral route after being handed a book by Lord Wotton to attempt to raise his spirits after a sad incident, is particularly striking. This is helped by Wilde's relatively straightforward language, making it all the more readable. However, I would not particularly recommend it for anyone under 13 as the themes and comments on the values of individuals and society may not appeal as much to a younger audience.
|The perfect antidote to real-world worry … Mouse & Mole by Joyce Dunbar.|
The best new picture books and novelsImogen Russell Williams
Saturday 22 June 2019
here’s a star-gazing theme to picture books this month. Look Up!(Puffin) by Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola features science-crazed, irrepressible chatterbox Rocket, who is determined to get her whole town out watching a meteor shower – to the annoyance of her big brother, who would rather stay glued to his phone. Energetic and with a wry, sweet take on family dynamics, it will alert readers to the thrilling mysteries of the night skies.
Astro Girl (Otter-Barry) by Ken Wilson-Max stars Astrid, another little girl intent on discovering the secrets of space, who enjoys acting out the challenges of zero gravity with Papa while Mama is away. When Astrid welcomes her back, the twist in the tale reveals that Mama might be an expert on space herself. A delightful combination of imaginative play and inspiring role model from a much-loved author-illustrator.
Fifty years after the moon landing, young readers of five-plus can make their own lunar voyages with The Usborne Book of the Moon by Laura Cowan and illustrator Diana Toledano, a compendious, thoroughly readable volume that contains not only plenty of facts about the moon’s orbit and phases, but also the legends and stories told about it worldwide. Engagingly illustrated, with well judged, engaging text, this is the best and broadest kind of non-fiction.
Back on Earth, Joyce Dunbar’s beloved duo Mouse & Mole, richly illustrated by James Mayhew, have recently reappeared, reissued by Graffeg. This cosy pair enjoy the gentlest of Kenneth Grahame-style adventures, making plans for picnics, overindulging in roast chestnuts and toasted muffins, and trying and failing to get rid of excessive clutter; the perfect antidote to real-world worry.Meanwhile, in The Suitcase (Nosy Crow) by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros, a strange animal appears, dragging a suitcase he says contains a teacup, a table and the cabin where he used to make tea. When he falls asleep, exhausted by his journey, the other animals break open the case – only to discover a broken teacup and an old photograph. As the stranger wakes to find the others have built him a new cabin, a sense of new joy and hope arises; the story has a feel of Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, but for a preschool audience.
For seven-plus readers with a yen for more modern-feeling escapism, Louie Stowell’s The Dragon in the Library (Nosy Crow) stars the book-fearing Kit, dragged to the library by her friends only to discover that she is a wizard, with a vital role to play in protecting the great dragon who sleeps within. Cracking pace, comic one-liners and a gleefully evil villain, brought to life by Davide Ortu’s illustrations, add up to a debut with broad appeal.
For eight and up, more winged wyrms appear in The Secret Dragon by Ed Clarke (Puffin), appropriately set in Wales. Scientifically minded Mari is fossil-hunting on the beach when she discovers a tiny, curled-up creature; soon she’s facing the challenges of rearing a mischievous baby dragon while trying to study it and keep it out of trouble. Mari’s charged relationships with her mother and new friend Dylan, and her determination to get famous Dr Griff to verify her discovery so she can give the dragon her lost father’s name, give extra depth to this heart-warming story.
Finally, from the superb Katherine Rundellcomes The Good Thieves(Bloomsbury), a heist story set in 1920s New York. This is as compelling as an Enid Blyton circus caper – if Blyton had written with inclusive compassion and the sort of limpid, elegant prose it’s a pleasure to sink into. Indomitable Vita Marlowe, whom polio has left with a weakened leg, is determined to break into the home her grandfather lost to swindlers and steal back his treasure. But the heist will need the help of circus boys Arkady and Sam, with their acrobatic skill and gift for charming animals, not to mention Silk, the pickpocket – and Vita’s own redoubtable marksmanship. Purring mafiosi, breathtaking feats of nerve and a crackling sense of atmosphere throughout make this book a single-sitting treat, showcasing Rundell at the peak of her powers.
Back in the present day, Lisa Thompson’s Owen and the Soldier (Barrington Stoke) is brief, super-readable, and poignant. Owen’s dad isn’t around any more, and his mum is increasingly struggling to cope; he shares his feelings only with the crumbling stone soldier in the memorial garden, until the council announces plans to redevelop. Can Owen save the soldier? This slim, focused story packs considerable punch.
In this Australian prizewinner focusing on two Indigenous teenagers, 15-year-old Beth Teller has died in a car crash, but her spirit remains visible to her grief-stricken police detective father. When Dad is called to investigate a murder, Beth meets Isobel Catching, a young witness, who can see her too. Catching’s strange story reveals the painful, long-buried secrets at the heart of the case, and shows Beth that she can’t stay stranded in the living world for ever trying to tend her father’s broken heart. Combining taut, intricate thriller with ancient Indigenous tales and the darker side of Australian history, this is a deeply poignant and original novel.
by Deirdre Sullivan, Hot Key, £7.99
When twin sisters Madeline and Catlin move to their new stepfather’s castle in the fictional Irish hamlet of Ballyfrann, the remoteness appeals to them at first. Everyone is apparently related, their stepfather’s cousin seems to be a witch and, of course, there are the stories of the girls who have gone missing there, year after year. Madeline and Catlin think they will be safe, though; they look out for each other. Salty hilarity and an assured evocation of siblings’ prickly closeness give way to unnerving folk-horror menace and gore in Sullivan’s latest lush, weird and lyrical book.
by gal-dem, Walker, £7.99
From gal-dem, an award-winning magazine created by women and non-binary people of colour, come essays and stories in which contributors write to their teenage selves as kindly, validating mentors. From Niellah Arboine’s “‘You Speak Well for a Black Girl’: Black Is Who You Are” to Sara Jafari’s emphasis on choice and autonomy when dating as a British Muslim, the pieces are warm, personal and sometimes traumatic. The authors assert their right to their own history, feelings and experience, and their refusal to be ignored.