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George Plimpton (1927-2003)

George Plimpton, who died suddenly on the last Thursday of September at the age of 76, led by all measures a brilliant life. He was passionate, first and foremost, about literature.

In Conversation

Jonathan Lethem with Theodore Hamm

Over the summer, Jonathan Lethem spoke to the Rail about Fortress of Solitude, his sixth novel. Theodore Hamm (Rail): Your story is set against the backdrop of gentrification. We’re sitting here in Halcyon on Smith Street, a café that sells music along with ’70s furniture. Did you ever think that when you were growing up around here in the ’70s that your neighborhood would become trendy?

A Room of One’s Own

Jonathan Lethem, The Fortress of Solitude (Doubleday 2003) Jonathan Lethem has made a reputation for himself by writing fiction deeply rooted in genre, whether that stylistic hook be the dystopian science fiction of Amnesia Moon and many of his short stories, or the hard-boiled noir of Gun With Occasional Music.

On a Road…

Vendela Vida’s debut novel, And Now You Can Go, begins in the past tense, a memory. But in the second paragraph, grammar changes, anticipating trauma: "The trees were tall, and, by December, without birds. In my mind, the story is always in the present, always starting at 2:15."

Young Bounder Pens Volume

In his exegesis Never Mind the Pollacks, Dr. Neal Pollack, a young bounder of note, has produced an earnestly researched account of certain aspects of American popular music. In particular, he shines the flickering lantern of his wit upon the genre sometimes known as "rock," which I believe remains of some interest to a number of pre-geriatrics.

Closing the Joint with Geoffrey Young

Geoffrey Young, Lights Out, Drawings by James Siena (Great Barrington, MA: The Figures, 2003) Poet, publisher, curator, art dealer, and guest lecturer Geoffrey Young has, in collaboration with artist James Siena, published his fourth collection of poems entitled Lights Outs. The book is divided into seven sections. There are fourteen drawings and a cover painting by Siena.

Nowhere Outside of History

On the night of April 9th, 1948, the infamous Jewish paramilitary groups Irgun and the Stern Gang surrounded the tiny Arab village of Deir Yasin, five kilometers to the west of Jerusalem. After issuing a brief warning to evacuate, the paramilitaries— led by future Israeli president Menachim Begin— proceeded to sweep the village, massacring 254 of the village’s 700 inhabitants, mostly older men, women, and children.

One Ring Zero’s Author Project

Rick Moody, Paul Auster and Dave Eggers are just a few of the many authors who have collaborated with Brooklyn band One Ring Zero on the Author Project, the band’s fourth recording. It combines lyrics from renowned authors with One Ring Zero’s distinctive moody melodies, which could be described as "alt-circus." But even though the album is finished, you won’t find it at Tower or HMV just yet.

New Scholarship Makes Splash

This splendid edited volume will hold great interest for scholars seeking a serious treatment of a provocative subject along the lines of Van Daniken’s classic Chariots of the Gods. In a mere 874 pages, which include several remarkable fold-out illustrations, twelve leading academics come together to explore one of the modern period’s most unheralded psycho-culinary practices.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2003

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