Nathaniel Rich is the author, most recently, of Odds Against Tomorrow. (October 2016)

IN THE REVIEW

The George Plimpton Story

George Plimpton, right, after a boxing match with Archie Moore at Stillman’s Gym, New York City, 1959; Ezra Bowen, the Sports Illustrated editor who acted as referee, is at left. ‘Quite visible are the effects Archie Moore left on the author’s nose,’ Plimpton writes in Shadow Box, ‘what would have been described in the jaunty style of the mid-nineteenth century as follows: “Archie dropped a hut’un on George’s sneezer which shook his ivories and turned the tap on.”’

Out of My League: The Classic Account of an Amateur’s Ordeal in Professional Baseball

by George Plimpton

Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last-String Quarterback

by George Plimpton
Six books and several dozen Sports Illustrated articles into his journalistic career, George Plimpton still couldn’t type the words “participatory journalism” with a straight face. “‘Participatory journalism’—that ugly descriptive,” he writes in the first pages of Shadow Box (1977), sighing over his Underwood. Though he became nationally known as the …

To the Lighthouse

Edward Hopper: Lighthouse at Two Lights, 1929

Brilliant Beacons: A History of the American Lighthouse

by Eric Jay Dolin
The history of the American lighthouse is a history of calamity, insanity, and, in at least one case, cannibalism. The Boon Island Lighthouse stands six miles off the coast of York, Maine, on a modest granite outcropping barely above sea level. For decades ships crossed the Atlantic only to founder …

James Baldwin & the Fear of a Nation

All Those Strangers: The Art and Lives of James Baldwin

by Douglas Field

Early Novels and Stories

by James Baldwin, edited by Toni Morrison
Today, like sixty years ago, much of the public rhetoric about race is devoted to explaining to an incurious white public, in rudimentary terms, the contours of institutional racism. It must be spelled out, as if for the first time, that police killings of unarmed black children, indifference to providing clean drinking water to a majority-black city, or efforts to curtail the voting rights of minority citizens are not freak incidents but outbreaks of a chronic national disease.

NYR DAILY

The Creatures Within

Arthur Kern: Dance on Trigger, 1984

I found the sculptures of Arthur Kern, now at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, startling not because I had never seen anything like them before—but the opposite. The sense of recognition was immediate and visceral. I was certain I had seen these images before, in some other time, somewhere very far away from here.

An Amazon Without Certainty

Antonio Bolivar as Karamakate and Jan Bijvoet as Theo in Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent, 2015

It’s a story as old as Alexander von Humboldt: white explorer treks into the Amazon, becomes lost and disoriented, paints face with mud, eats beetles, and has visions of galaxies and exotic reptiles, before finally achieving enlightenment—or total madness. But Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent is strange enough to resist the worst of the old clichés, which is to say it resists moral certainty.

Remnants of New Orleans

Richard Sexton: Ruin of a leper colony hospital, Caño del Oro, near Cartagena, Colombia, 2010

“While it actually resembles no other city upon the face of the earth,” wrote Lafcadio Hearn of New Orleans, “it owns suggestions of towns in Italy, and in Spain, of cities in England and in Germany, of seaports in the Mediterranean, and of seaports in the tropics.” There’s no better illustration of this than the photographs of Richard Sexton.

Authenticity All Right: Lee Friedlander’s New Orleans

Lee Friedlander: Second Liners, 1961

Lee Friedlander arrived in New Orleans at a high point in the jazz revivalist movement, when fans of jazz as it was originally played in New Orleans in the first two decades of the twentieth century (before the perceived corruptions of swing and bebop) descended on the city with tape recorders and notepads and cameras, hoping to catch some of the old magic and document it for posterity.

NYR CALENDAR

The 9th Annual Cassidy Park Cook-Off/BBQ

This annual cook-off is an excellent opportunity to visit Bogalusa, “The Magic City,” a town founded in 1906 by the Goodyears of Buffalo, New York, in a pine forest on the Mississippi border eighty minutes north of New Orleans.