Friday Reads: “Outside In” by Kathryn Schulz (on Nell Zink) & “Meaning Machines” by Calvin Tomkins (on Charles Ray) (The New Yorker)
I go through phases with The New Yorker. Sometimes, I try to “catch up” on the pile that sits on an armchair in my bedroom. Other times, I throw away any issue that is older than two weeks, its presence an awful reminder of all the time I spent watching The Shahs of Sunset instead of reading. I’m going through a catching up phase right now and am happy to report that I am only a few weeks behind. Anyway, my relationship with The New Yorker is not really the thing I want to tell you about. (Well, I sort of do, obviously, because that’s what I started talking about in the first place, but never mind.) Rather, I wanted to tell you about profiles that I read about two different artists, both of which I’ve been thinking about a lot this week.
The first is Kathryn Schulz’s profile of Nell Zink, the author of The Wallcreeper and now Mislaid, which came out this month. She is notable for her age (51), residence (Bad Belzig, Germany), and not giving a fuck about American publishing or really America in general. (She is American.) The thing I found the most interesting about Zink is that since she was a child, she has felt inferior and incapable of writing that would measure up to novels she considers great. She wrote only for herself or small audiences until The Wallcreeper was published last year. I related to her on that level, not feeling like your work is worth sharing. Otherwise, I simply enjoyed reading about her surprising life and interests.
I also read Calvin Tomkins’ profile of the sculptor Charles Ray, which very much made me want to see the exhibition of his work that opened at the Art Institute of Chicago this month. Ray’s mid-to-late career work pushes the boundaries of modern sculpture while employing techniques from the past. And no piece speaks to this more than his “Huck and Jim,” a life-size, nude representation of the characters from from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, that was first proposed for the plaza outside the new Whitney Museum and ultimately rejected. (It’s on display for the first time at the Art Institute.) The behind-the-scenes look at how Ray creates sculptures like “Huck and Jim,” as well as the quiet story of how he became a great artist, made this profile unputdownable for me.
And here’s what I was reading elsewhere…
This inside look at Lilly Pulitzer’s headquarters in King of Prussia, PA and the apology Lilly Pulitzer had to issue after someone noticed – and alerted the internet to – fat-shaming cartoons that were pinned up inside one employee’s cubicle. (New York Magazine; BuzzFeed)
Everything that Gawker published about the Duggars, the Quiverfull movement, and the Advanced Training Institute method of homeschooling.
Frank Bruni on Catholics and same-sex marriage. (NYT)
The Frugal Traveler’s “$1,000 Day in Paris for $100.” (NYT)
Brit Bennett’s beautiful “Addy Walker, American Girl.” (The Paris Review)
And another profile, this one on the hard-to-define country music star Kacey Musgraves. (The Fader)
Finally, here is the video for Lil Mama’s “Sausage,” which has been overwhelming me since I watched it for the first time earlier today. Have a great weekend!