Years ago, long before I had children or was even married, a friend with children said, “The thing about having kids is that after a while you forget what it was like before you had them.” The idea was shocking. Busy enough with my own life, I couldn’t envisage a future self whose comings and goings were circumscribed, apparently happily, by the wants and needs of people half my size. But that’s what happened. As I grew into the role of parent, I sometimes felt as if I were taking apart a ship and using the planks to build a ship for someone else. I was building a ship across time, out of my time.
In September of this year, I was honored to be part of “The William H. Gass Symposium: International Writing” at Washington University in St. Louis. I joined Lorin Cuoco, who co-founded the International Writers Center with Gass in 1990 and was its associate director until 2001, in giving some opening remarks, then discussing Gass’s work with William H. Gass Fellow Matthias Göritz and Ignacio Infante, associate professor of Comparative Literature and Spanish at the university.
I spoke about my work editing and publishing ReadingGass.org, The Ear’s Mouth Must Move: Essential Interviews of William H. Gass and Abstractions Arrive: Having Been There All the Time. To say I was in impressive company is an understatement. Don’t miss the other videos all housed here together.
Exciting news here in St. Louis: Studio Gang-designed residential tower to go up just east of Forest Park. Love knowing the architect from this 2014 New Yorker profile I enjoyed will be enriching my home city.
A wonderful, gratitude-filled essay by George Saunders.
An extraordinary, deeply affecting single-article issue of The New York Times Magazine. Unforgettable.
I’ve long chuckled at Roz Chast’s cartoons in The New Yorker. This graphic memoir, the first such book I’ve read, was so much more than a chuckle: funny, yes — but direct, deeply poignant, sharply observant. It’s hard to think about someone more perfectly born and raised to write (and draw) one specific book. Having finished the book, I’m looking forward to listening to this “Fresh Air” interview with the author.
The official flag for The Refugee Nation, a team of ten refugees currently competing in the Rio Olympics, draws its colour scheme and design from lifejackets. Designed by Syrian artist and refugee Yara Said, the flag is a vivid orange with a single black stripe.
Learn more about this beautiful effort.
From Michael Auping’s Seven Interviews with Tadao Ando:
The idea of a center is an interesting one, and one that is more of a Western concept. Roland Barthes made a comment on visiting Japan that it is a country that doesn’t seem to have a center; great depth, but no center. I think I carry that aspect of Japan with me. For me, the center of a building is always the person who is in it, experiencing the space from within it themselves. The challenge is in allowing each person to be the center, to be generous enough with the space to allow them to feel they are the center.
Fun audio project our Forest Park Forever team launched this summer.
I was hugely impressed with Ratliff over the years. It’s a treat to hear him talk about listening deeply and writing carefully, both early on and within his NYT critic’s role. Best wishes to him.
On a road trip last weekend, I finally got around to listening to this Nikole Hannah-Jones episode about the Normandy School District from July 2015. Truly dispiriting.
Impressive interactive presentation.
Two of my favorites.
I’m honored to be taking part in a roundtable discussion as part of this special event hosted by Washington University Libraries. Near St. Louis? Please join us on September 23.