Notes on the Death of Culture: Essays on Spectacle and Society
by Mario Vargas Llosa, edited and translated from the Spanish by John King
The Discreet Hero
by Mario Vargas Llosa, translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman
Even among his extraordinary generation of Latin American literary figures, Mario Vargas Llosa has had an unusually prodigious career. He is nine years younger than his most famous contemporary, Gabriel García Márquez, yet his first two novels had an electrifying effect on Latin American literature when García Márquez was still …
Richard Price published his first novel, The Wanderers, in 1974, when he was twenty-four. It’s a propulsive, plotless bullet of a book whose story is its teenage characters’ lives. It has much in common with Last Exit to Brooklyn, Hubert Selby Jr.’s sordid gale force of a novel about dope …
New York street photographers were among the great flaneurs of the twentieth century. These weaponized observers with their loaded metal boxes (so much more conspicuous than reporters with their pocket-sized notebooks) did their most striking work in the 1940s and 1950s. One thinks of Helen Levitt’s image, from 1940, of …
When Mayor de Blasio took his place at the pulpit during Officer Ramos’s funeral in Queens on December 27, the shiver of hostility from the police was astounding. So abruptly did they turn their backs to the mayor’s image on the screen that for an instant I thought it must be some kind of religious ritual, a turning to the East perhaps, toward Bethlehem, in deference to Ramos’s devoutness.
A sampling of meticulous mug shots, along with about forty crime-related images from American tabloids, police files, security cameras, and photographers both anonymous and widely known, comprise the fascinating exhibition “Crime Stories: Photography and Foul Play,” currently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The curators have set up an interesting dialogue between celebrated victims and assassins, on the one hand, and the unknown on the other: Robert F. Kennedy seconds after he was shot on June 5, 1968, provokes a predictable ache; an anonymous, plebian bank robber, ferociously tries to shoot out a security camera in a burst of smoke and light.
A new documentary, Homme Less, opening on August 7 at the IFC Center in Manhattan, is a reminder of how far the homeless population now reaches in New York. Mark Reay, fashion photographer and former model, has been living on the fire-escape of a private building for three years. With Promethean effort he has managed to hold the dooming signs of destitution (the odor, the accreted grime) at bay. Though he is isolated in his double life, he is far from alone.
The decision of a Staten Island grand jury not to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for the death of Eric Garner has thrust the city into the center of a rapidly intensifying national debate. Many New Yorkers seem to be just becoming aware of the fact that a huge number of their fellow citizens live daily in a state of high alert, if not outright fear of the police and have been doing so for decades.
Steven Hirsch’s photos of the Gowanus Canal are solely concerned with the surface of the water—the gonorrhea, coli, and putida bacteria that cling to one another there in a mosaic of filth. In fact, these images are a microscopic record of an ecological disaster.