Reading with a blade and a glue stick
10 things worth sharing: cut and paste reading, the mothers of Matrix, listening to Kenny G, and more...
In case you missed it, Tuesday’s newsletter was 10 great music movies I saw this year.
Here are 10 things I thought were worth sharing this week:
I read books with a pencil, but I read the paper with an x-acto blade and glue stick.
The great Heather Havrilesky interviewed me for Ask Polly. (I can’t wait to read her next book, Foreverland: On the Divine Tedium of Marriage.)
Lauren Groff’s novel Matrix was probably my favorite book of the year, so I was delighted by her presentation, “The Mothers of Matrix,” one of the best explanations of how a novel comes together I’ve ever seen.
Surprise! Having millions of social media followers does not automatically equate to millions of book sales. (As William Goldman told us of Hollywood, “Nobody knows anything.”) Here’s Jane Friedman on what good, thoughtful marketing looks like from a traditional publisher. (Remember: “all publishing is self-publishing.”)
I loved Listening to Kenny G, director Penny Lane’s investigation into musical taste and why people love and hate Kenny G. It would pair beautifully with one of its influences, Carl Wilson’s excellent book about Celine Dion, Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey To The End of Taste. (I also highly recommend Lane’s documentary, Hail Satan?)
A brilliant 2+ hour Stephen Sondheim lecture from 1971.
Eye candy: Artist Fred Tomaselli spent part of the pandemic making collages out of the New York Times. (I mean, who didn’t?) A new series of pencils from Blackwing pay tribute to artist Corita Kent. (Blackwings are near the top of The Kleon Studio Gift Guide.)
Ear candy: I’ve been working to the quiet piano of Nils Frahm’s Old Friends New Friends and his (noisier) KEXP session. (Also digging “Black Beatles,” a selection of black artists in the 60s/70s covering the Fab Four.)
There’s some pretty good stuff in the penultimate “Attention” issue of The Believer. Check out Elisa Gabbert on productivity apps and Kyle Chayka on 9 works of art that pushed us to pay attention in a new way.
RIP artist Lawrence Weiner. (This 11-year-old 5-minute video serves as a lovely tribute.) RIP critic Greg Tate. (I need to get a copy of his reader, Flyboy in the Buttermilk.)
Thanks for reading. Take some deep breaths this week, because winter looks rough. If you’d like to support this newsletter, become a paid subscriber:
PS. It was nice to see Steal Like An Artist on this list of books about change to guide you through life’s seasons. (I would’ve picked Keep Going, which is explicitly about change and seasons, but I’ll take what I can get.)
I work at Notre Dame and managed the live stream for the Lauren Groff lecture. I am delighted that you found it and that it had such a profound impact on you.
I’ve heard it said that every purchase of a book is a gesture of faith in the writer who wrote it. If this is true, then leaving the reader with a wide margin is an invitation to join into a conversation.