In its sheer expansiveness 4 3 2 1, which is more than twice the length of any book that Paul Auster has published, is unlike anything he has written. Yet it is also commodious enough to encompass everything else he has written. Several times Auster writes playfully of the book of life, and 4 3 2 1 is close to a Book of Auster, studded with allusions to previous novels.
“The idea was to start in New Orleans and from there we had no plan.” This has been the idea of many people who have come to New Orleans. It was the idea of the French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, who in 1684 set out to establish …
Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right
by Arlie Russell Hochschild
As the country’s major political parties have become foreign countries to each other—with their own languages, press, moral philosophies, realities—a new kind of political literature has emerged. How, the authors ask, can so many people live in an upside-down reality, denouncing everything the writers consider virtuous, embracing everything they consider immoral? Arlie Russell Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land is the most satisfying example yet of this fish-out-of-water approach.
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
Plimpton was only a journalist in the sense that James Thurber was an illustrator and Robert Benchley a newspaper columnist. He went places, spoke to people, and wrote down his observations, but the reporting wasn’t the point. What was the point? The storytelling, the humanity, the comedy.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
For four decades Richard Sexton has been playing a transcontinental game of Concentration, pinballing between New Orleans and the cities of the Creole diaspora—Havana, Quito, Cartagena, Cap-Haïtien—documenting resonances in architecture and style.