Van Vechten was transfixed by celebrity. As a small boy he collected autographs and pasted photos of actresses into his scrapbooks; as an adult he dropped names shamelessly, and made lists in his daybooks of the famous people he met at parties. To Van Vechten all publicity was self-publicity, and he took great vicarious pleasure in transforming an obscure artist into an international star, tying himself to their public image in the process. Often his photographs were an emphatic expression of that same impulse; an opportunity to immortalize his connection to the exceptional and celebrated.
The early drafts of Marshlands read like a classical tragedy: Gus, a well-intentioned military doctor, is deployed to a war zone where his allegiance to his own empire is tested by a deep affinity for the tribal people he finds there. Torn between the conflicting demands of duty and conscience, he makes a choice that proves to be his undoing.
Baz Luhrmann’s screen adaptation of The Great Gatsby turned out to be an anathema to most devotees of the 1925 novel, a hyperactive, candy-coloured spectacle that violated the delicate texture of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s prose.
Frankenstein’s monster is so passé. Especially when you consider all the strange new creatures that scientists have breathed into being in the two centuries since Mary Shelley’s “wretched devil” took its first lumbering steps. This Halloween, retire your Frankenstein costume and dress up as one of these brave new beasts instead.
If you thought Gordon Gekko was the undisputed champion of corporate psychopathy, then think again because Bateman makes Gekko look like the angst-ridden, self-harming treasurer of a Mormon prayer group.
My candy story begins with an oft-told tale I call “The Jelly Bean Incident.” I relate the story at length at the beginning of Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure, so I’ll just give you the punch line here: when I offered a few jelly beans to a little pre-school friend, his parents flipped […]
Joshua Dubler is the author of Down in the Chapel: Religious Life in an American Prison, which follows a group of prisoners serving life sentences at Graterford Prison. FSG published Down in the Chapel earlier this month.
Authors on the Books that Helped Them Come Out Reading may be a solitary experience, but for some of us, it let us know that we were not alone. While everyone’s story is different, many of us are united by our love of books and our belief that they have the power to bring us […]
by Charlotte Strick Part of my job as Farrar, Straus and Giroux’s Paperback Art Director is the repackaging of books from our illustrious backlist. Rose Macaulay’s The Towers of Trebizond resulted in one of my favorite recent redesigns. To start, we typically mine our company’s massive library archive to see how the title was packaged […]
On Disney, David Lynch, and Django Unchained by Eric G. Wilson In the weeks after the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained—which depicts a freed American slave taking bloody revenge on cruel slaveholders—has faced a lot of media scrutiny. Pundits have wondered if this kind of fictional brutality incites real-life violence. It’s […]
By Yael Kohen Before I was led into the receiving room of Phyllis Diller’s 10,000-square-foot, gated Brentwood home, I was told the legendary comedy queen, who died Monday at the age of 95, preferred to be called Madame Diller. There would be no hugging or kissing—just a shaking of the hands. I would have 30 […]
Censorship and Obscenity Henry Hitchings was born in 1974. He is the author of The Secret Life of Words, Who’s Afraid of Jane Austen?, and Defining the World. He has contributed to many newspapers and magazines and is the theater critic for the London Evening Standard. The following is an adapted excerpt from his book The […]
Love Goes to Buildings on Fire spans just four years in New York City, but that’s all Will Hermes needs to showcase the explosion of progress between rock, salsa, hip hop, dance, jazz, and classical music. To take just one example: during a seven-day stretch in 1973 you could catch a Soho loft performance by […]
The following essay is excerpted from the epilogue of André Aciman’s new collection Alibis: Essays on Elsewhere. He is the author of Eight White Nights, Call Me by Your Name, Out of Egypt, and False Papers, and is the editor of The Proust Project (all published by FSG). He teaches comparative literature at the Graduate Center […]
Paul La Farge is the author of two novels: The Artist of the Missing (FSG, 1999) and Haussmann, or the Distinction (FSG, 2001); and a book of imaginary dreams, The Facts of Winter. His short stories have appeared in McSweeney’s, Harper’s Magazine, Fence, Conjunctions, and elsewhere. His nonfiction appears in The Believer, Bookforum, Playboy, and […]
Frank Bill usually traffics in fiction that hits with the revelatory power of fact—the stories of his debut book, Crimes in Southern Indiana, have the power of bristling frontline reports on the havoc methamphetamines have wreaked on the American heartland. But here Frank steps out from behind his fiction to tell us about a time […]
I taught a class on happiness to my friends, and one thing that came up was that the topic was seen as sort of trivial. I found that really weird. It was seen as some sort of sickness of Western consumerist individualism. Happiness seems to me the most untrivial thing to talk about or think about. I think it’s really worthy of investigation. Pretty much everything that people do, in one way or another, is done in the interest of trying to be happy. So it doesn’t seem like a bad idea to spend a bit of one’s time thinking about it.
When I was a child, I did not much like to read, because I was lazy and preferred to play soccer outside. I did not like to be read to either, because repetition bored me and because my parents were really good story tellers—for years my mother told me about the adventures of two little hippos (brother and sister) who we’d send around the world and get into all sorts of trouble, while my father told me stories about Bulgarian history: khans, tsars, rebels fighting the Turks.
Charles Drazin is a lecturer on cinema at Queen Mary, University of London. His previous books include The Finest Years: British Cinema of the 1940s and In Search of The Third Man. This “canon” of French films is a list not of personal favorites (although some of them are) but of films that I think […]