A novelist and a photographer walk into a theater…

the literate lens

Mann1 Outside Symphony Space

Over the three years I’ve been writing The Literate Lens, few events have screamed “blog post!” as loudly at me as the one I attended last night at Symphony Space, in which Sally Mann, the acclaimed photographer (who, by her own admission, rarely leaves her Virginia home), was in conversation with Nashville-based novelist Ann Patchett.

I’ve loved Mann’s work ever since she blazed into the headlines with her 1992 book Immediate Family—I’ve followed her since into some strange and dark territory, and knew, from the essay excerpt published in the New York Times Magazine a few weeks ago, that her new memoir Hold Still would be fascinating. I also loved Ann Patchett’s 2011 novel State of Wonder, which can roughly be described as a sort of contemporary feminist version of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. A photographer-turned-memoirist in conversation with a novelist—needless…

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60 years ago today the Third Avenue El closed in Manhattan

Fans in a Flashbulb

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Arnold Eagle (1909-1992), Third Avenue El; Chatham Square Station, New York, ca. 1940, (461.1987)

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Arnold Eagle, Third Avenue El; 34th Street Station, New York, 1943, (479.1987)

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Arnold Eagle, Third Avenue El; Looking Up from 27th Street, New York, ca. 1938, (470.1987)

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Lee Sievan (1907-1990), Chatham Square, Where Third and Second Avenues Meet, New York, 1946, (1.1990)

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Berenice Abbott (1898-1991), “El,” Second and Third Avenue Lines, New York, April 24, 1936, (251.1985)

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Arnold Eagle (1909-1992), Under the Third Avenue El, North of 27th St., New York, 1939, (480.1987)

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Weegee (1899-1968), Under the Third Avenue El; But there is beauty along the street of forgotten men… it lies in the patterned black and white gold along the trolley tracks where the morning sun breaks through, Bowery, New York, ca. 1945, (

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All Go Anywhere

Peter Shelton

In December 1973, at the beginning of my second winter teaching skiing, my father gave me a slim picture book from 1936 that he’d rediscovered in his parents’ garage. SKI FEVER by Norman Vaughan. Fifty Cents. Fifty pages. Nipples on wooden ski tips. Pole baskets like personal-size pizzas. An unabashed paean to what was then the new sport of downhill skiing. My dad’s note read, in part, “I remember that my buddy Eugene and I devoured the contents before our first big ski weekend at Big Bear, where reality submerged fantasy.” He would have been 13.

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The Marriage Equality referendum is about real people and real lives. A Yes is a vote for love. #MarRef

140 characters is usually enough

This Friday you have the opportunity to extend to LGBT couples the constitutional rights and guarantees enjoyed by civilly-married heterosexual couples. That’s all. Despite all the scaremongering, this referendum isn’t about fear. It’s about love.

This referendum is about real people, real lives. Look at the powerful testimonies of people like Pat Carey and Ursula Halligan and Justin McAleese. Think about all those lives ruined, all that love denied. You mightn’t know it, but this referendum may well be about your brother or sister, your son or daughter, your neighbour or friend.

This is a head-to-head debate. Alongside this is a piece advocating a No vote. It probably contains the usual red herrings about adoption and/or surrogacy, redefining marriage and/or family. It may say civil partnership – despite having no constitutional protection – is as good as marriage.

Rather than waste your time telling you this is not about adoption…

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Between Generals: A Newly Translated Short Story by Antonio Tabucchi

Longreads

Antonio Tabucchi | from the collection Time Ages in a Hurry | Archipelago Books | May 2015 | 13 minutes (3,194 words)

Our latest Longreads Exclusive is a newly translated short story from Time Ages in a Hurry, a collection by Antonio Tabucchi, as recommended by Longreads contributor A. N. Devers

“A result of living in a place as inescapably public as New York City is that its people are deeply private in public spaces — eye contact on the street and subways is actively discouraged and conversation between strangers is kept to a minimum — making it easy to forget that its greatest asset is the stories of its people. We’re reminded of this in “Between Generals” a quiet and nuanced portrait of a man by the late Italian writer Antonio Tabucchi, in which we learn about the complicated history of one of New York City’s immigrants, a former Hungarian General who realizes he spent…

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Keith Olbermann: A Letterman Appreciation – You Know Him, You Love Him, You Can’t Live Without Him

Deadline

My perspective on David Letterman is a little different, I think, than most of his other frequent-but-really-not-that-big-a-deal guests. For one thing, while I can still be freshly awestruck by his intelligence and his creative genius, I like his humanity even more. The thing I like most about Dave is Dave.

Plus, I had been a fan for 25 years before I was ever on the show, and I had managed to meet him at NBC even though neither of us worked there. I was just leaving 30 Rock to get back to ESPN when I heard this very familiar voice shout my name and then, “What the hell are you doing here?” I explained, with a mixture of surprise and pride, that Bryant Gumbel had brought me down from Connecticut to be the sports guy on a panel for the Today show year in review for 1994. Without missing…

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Dream as if you’ll live forever, Live as if you’ll die today

Ramblings of a College Introvert

We’re responsive creatures, always yearning for some kind of carnal or spiritual fulfillment. So many of our conversations are dedicated to that one question: What makes us feel alive? For me it’s neither people nor adventures. It’s the shapes and colors that make up a city I love.

When I took a semester off in Cali, all I could think about was how much I missed NYC and how exciting it would be to blog about college life there. But four months after I returned to NYU I’ve only written four posts on my adventures here in the Big Apple. Ostensibly it’s because I just haven’t had the time. In reality it’s because I’ve kind of lost confidence in my writing. I don’t think I’ll ever be as good a writer as I would like to be, and I certainly don’t think I’m good enough to capture the sense of wonder I feel every time…

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I had a culture column at WIRED. And then I didn’t. Here’s what happened.

monica byrne

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Photo: an illustration by Eric Battle and John Jennings from Nnedi Okorafor’s The Book of the Phoenix. 

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A month ago, with the Hugo fracas in full swing, an editor at Wired wrote me and said, “If you have something to say, you have the platform.” Given Wired’s enormous readership, what an incredible thing. I wrote the piece in an afternoon, they put it up, and it did well.

Shortly thereafter, the same editor said she and the Culture editor wanted me to write a column for them. Which was even more thrilling. And given that my op-ed had been about systemic bias in favor of white men in literature, I thought they knew exactly what they were getting with me: a commitment to changing the conversation around what’s considered newsworthy art. I wrote to the editor, “Boyhood or the new Avengers movie? I could give a shit. A Girl Walks Home Alone at…

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An Illustrated Map of Arizona

Wish I Were Here

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It is said that Sedona has four vortexes of spiritual energy. They interact with a person’s inner self and can facilitate dramatic transformation. I visited Sedona twice. Both times, I felt a strange kind of vertigo. A squeamish bliss. Like that feeling you get when you have that one drink which pushes you beyond pleasantly buzzed and into the realm of drunkenness. As I drove away, the feeling transformed into intense nausea and a vicious migraine. It took me an entire day in bed to recover.

Arizona is a monumental territory in the cartography of my existence.

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I took shelter for the night in Flagstaff during cross-country trips from California to Michigan and back. The Petrified Forest welcomed two different versions of myself – one broken in spirit, the other reborn. The massive Meteor Crater and wacky Tombstone were to be the last places my brother Billy and I would…

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