Brooklyn Goes Literary: 5 True Stories from Its Famous Authors

It’s no secret that Brooklyn teams with writers of every stripe. In fact, it’s almost become so cliche that Colson Whitehead found the need to defend the phenomenon in his essay, “I Write in Brooklyn. Get Over it.” In Evan Hughes’ legacy-filled Literary Brooklyn, we see that the borough has long been home to writer types, from “The Grandfather,” Walt Whitman, through Henry Miller, Richard Wright, William Styron and Norman Mailer, to Paul Auster, Paula Fox and Jonathan Lethem. As you might suspect, the lives of those literary minds are filled with all kinds of juicy anecdotes. Here, after the jump, lies five of them. … Read More

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Exploring Robert Mapplethorpe’s Portraits of Cultural Icons

While knee-jerk Senator Jesse Helms did his unlevel best to ensure that America at-large most remembered the more pornographic work of Robert Mapplethorpe, we of sounder mind know that the lensman contained many multitudes. In addition to shooting kittens and children and mountains and coconuts and all sorts of floral exotica, Mapplethorpe shot portraits, largely of the most influential people of his time. What’s cool about the collection culled in Mapplethorpe X7, a magnificent recent release from teNeues, is that it’s curated by seven of the keenest eyes of all time. There’s David Hockney, who errs on the side of visualists (Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg, Warhol, et al), and Cindy Sherman, who digs things up close and very personal, whether wardrobed or disrobed. Robert Wilson seems to want to stir up some controversy all over again, or perhaps the playwright simply wishes that everyone see the real cause for hot fuss was Mapplethorpe’s grasp of exquisite beauty. And only a fool would want to legislate against that. … Read More

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In and of the Avant Garde: Man Ray in Paris

He was Williamsburg’s original hipster. The first in what would become a teaming succession of visualists hellbent on squashing the status quo. In his day though, he had in his corner a certain Alfred Stieglitz, as well as Marcel Duchamp, who both saw in him something more than the average image-maker. Armed with letters of introduction, he crossed the pond to Paris, where the Surrealists welcomed him as one of their own, and where the likes of Pablo Picasso, James Joyce, Jean Cocteau, Joan Miró, and Gertrude Stein all sat before his lens. He was Man Ray (originally Emmanuel Radnitzky), the American who did much to brighten The City of Light. In the collection entitled Man Ray in Paris, Erin C.Garcia gives us 99 reasons to herald the master. Click through to see what we mean. … Read More

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Daily Dose Pick: Photography as Fiction

Erin. C. Garcia’s new book Photography as Fiction culls some of the most vivid imagery from the archives of LA’s J. Paul Getty Museum.

Garcia, assistant curator in the Department of Photographs at the Getty, has gone to great lengths to select some of the most robust and telling photographs in the museum’s collection. The results, which include offerings from Man Ray, Joel Peter Witkin, Thomas Eakins, and Alfred Stieglitz, run the gamut of the form’s more breathtaking representation of story. … Read More

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Assigned Reading: The Ultimate Zombie Lit Reading List

They are everywhere. Lurking in street corner shadows and hidden among what’s left of the world’s trees. They’re behind highway embankments and new building facades, over the rivers and throughout neighborhoods. They are down the hallway, up the stairs, and in your attic. Mostly though, they’re in bookstores. And their prevalence cannot be denied. They are the Undead. Or, if you prefer a more colorful vernacular: Zombies. And here are nine ways bookworms can hold them close to your hearts. … Read More

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Exclusive: Todd Oldham on Joan Jett and The Runaways’ Fashion Legacy

“It was one of the most fun things I ever got to do.” That’s Todd Oldham speaking about the work he did on his new book Joan Jett, perhaps one of the most devotional monographs in the history of music. Jett, one of the founding sisters of good, hard rock ‘n roll, has been a hero to quirky girls and boys in the worlds of fashion and music for over three decades now. As a teen, she founded The Runaways, still considered one of the toughest acts of all time. With her next band, The Blackhearts, she not only started one of the first indie labels ever, but she did it with a song that no one wanted to sign. That track, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” would go on to top the charts for seven weeks straight, and it remains one of Billboard’s Greatest Songs of All Time.

Timed to coincide with the release of Floria Sigismondi’s The RunawaysJoan Jett sets a place at the head of the table for a woman who’s always been ahead of the pack. We talked with Todd Oldham about Jett’s enduring impact on fashion, reading British music magazines in Iran and how Mary Tyler Moore brought the designer and the rock goddess together. … Read More

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Hard-Boiled Eggheads: High-Minded Novelists Turn to Pulp Fiction

Crime sure must have some allure. It’s driven untold numbers of men to mayhem, and a certain score of women to murder. And it’s caused some of our highest-minded literary scribes to take some very low roads. The latest egghead to get all hard-boiled is Robert Coover, who joins Thomas Pynchon, John Banville and Paul Auster in the back alleys of our mind. Okay, so Auster has basically been a hard-boiled egghead from the get; he just found a way to keep himself afloat above the low road. Pynchon and Banville (and now Coover) however all made a conscious decision to leave their airy heights and slum it. And the results are as beautiful and as memorable as a broken nose.

That’s good by the way. Damn good. Especially when you’re talking about pulp fiction. But surely these gentlemen haven’t gone surly simply because they feel like a dust-up. Or have they? … Read More

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Celebrity Gossip Before TMZ: Shocking True Story by Henry E. Scott

There was a time when homosexuality, drug use, infidelity, and a Communist past were considered scandalous. In Eisenhower’s America any one of the above was enough to get your face pasted in the pages of a tabloid tell-all called Confidential. And if you weren’t careful, the coverage could ruin your career. In a media culture dominated by the likes of TMZ and Gawker, those sorts of “indiscretions” can still seem to be quite scandalous. And, with the exception of perhaps homosexuality, all are potential career wreckers. But Confidential was there first, and they were there when things were most titillating. … Read More

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Review: Don DeLillo’s Point Omega

We move too fast. It’s a common complaint among just about everyone these days, as they usually have their eyes glued to a high-speed computer or their ears anchored to a cell phone. And it’s the kind of common problem to which there seems to be no solution. Stopping to smell the roses isn’t even an issue; most of the time we don’t even know where the roses grow. Leave it to Don DeLillo to hush us up for a moment.

DeLillo, a man who doesn’t do email and once famously carried a business card that said “I don’t want to talk about it,” has never really been one for the fast track. And it makes perfect sense that he returns with a quiet and stirring rumination on time and death and the meaninglessness of words. The book is called Point Omega, and it just might remake your day. … Read More

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Two Handfuls of the Best Songs by the Late Great Vic Chesnutt

Vic Chesnutt died on Christmas Day. And if he had to go, so damn early, and so damn cruelly, and so damn needlessly, there may have been no better day for him to do so. Dying while much of the world was celebrating the birth of a prophet could not have been more poetic. And Vic Chesnutt was sheer poetry.… Read More

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