Nicole Rudick is a writer and editor and the former Managing Editor of The Paris Review. (July 2019)

IN THE REVIEW

A Universe of One’s Own

Artwork by Judith Clute for the 1985 edition of Joanna Russ’s The Female Man. It is on view in the exhibition ‘As If: Alternative Histories from Then to Now,’ at The Drawing Center, New York City, through July 28, 2019.

The Future Is Female!: 25 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women, from Pulp Pioneers to Ursula K. Le Guin

edited by Lisa Yaszek
“Write me a creature who thinks as well as a man, or better than a man, but not like a man.” This was the challenge the influential science-fiction editor John Campbell famously issued his authors in the 1940s. It was aimed at producing aliens as fully formed as the interstellar human travelers who encounter them. Isaac Asimov thought the best example was a creature named Tweel from Stanley Weinbaum’s “A Martian Odyssey,” a story from 1934 that preceded the dictum. But the instruction also has the feel of a riddle, and neither Campbell nor Asimov considered its most obvious answer: a woman.

NYR DAILY

Delighting in Ross Gay, One Essay at a Time

Henri Matisse: Reader on a Black Background, 1939

I put off beginning the poet Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights, which was published earlier this year, because I was afraid it would end too quickly. I felt sure that the book’s 102 essays, most between one paragraph and three pages in length, would be kin to his poems, which are tender, tactile, and human, whether he’s celebrating the spastic joy of listening to a good song or articulating a swelling fury. Gay wrote the book’s essays over the period of a year, one each day, for the simple reason that he thought it would be nice to write about delight every day. The handful of rules he set out for himself included composing the essays quickly and writing them by hand. I decided to read one entry from the book each day, to follow the model of how he’d written them and to give each entry its own space to unfold in my mind—to let it warm me, I’d come to realize, like sunshine.

The Raunchy Brilliance of Julie Doucet

Twenty years after publishing the last issue of Julie Doucet’s Dirty Plotte, Drawn & Quarterly has gathered the first dozen issues along with Doucet’s early, unpublished, and previously uncollected work, and numerous appreciations, in a two-volume slipcase edition. Such lavish treatment can’t dispel the unruliness of Doucet’s project; these comics are as pertinent and captivating today as when they first made their way into the culture. Doucet’s parodic depictions of intense violence are still unsettling; her elastic treatment of sex and gender is still daring; and her open-ended treatment of female identity is still vital.

The Art of Instinct

Jean Dubuffet: Goat with a Bird, 1954

Art brut was a source of inspiration for the painter and sculptor Jean Dubuffet’s own work, which ranged from primitive-looking drawings scratched into impasto to a totemic figure composed only of two unmodified grapevine roots and a block of slag. But he also advocated tirelessly to spread art brut’s influence as a movement, from postwar France to New York and, in particular, to Chicago. Dubuffet’s greatest contribution to contemporary art, beyond his own work, may have been his validation of an art of instinct and his insistence on what he called an “infinitely diversified expansion” of art history.

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