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Picturing a World

What makes this book so happy (2): Place

One way a book can make you happy is to transport you from your armchair to someplace else altogether. It helps, of course, for the place to be somewhere you’d like to visit (exposés need not apply). From Prevention’s list of 55 happy books, I’ll point to Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence and Adam Gopnik’s Paris to the Moon as books that make you adore being in France. Read More 

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What makes this book so happy (1): Food

In response to the appearance of Where the Light Falls on Prevention Magazine’s list of 55 Happy Books Proven To Boost Your Mood, I was invited to speak at my local public library on September 27th. It seemed a good idea to talk about the book in relation to the list—but that raised the question, just what is a happy book? I decided to tease out common threads among some of the titles and examine the extent to which I was conscious of each factor as I wrote. First topic: Food.  Read More 

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Upcoming library talk

It is a great honor to be invited to speak in the Lively World Series that honors the memory of the extraordinary Milton Bass. Naturally, I've been giving a lot of thought to the topic and will be blogging  Read More 

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Who knew?

Blog post tip: I’m speechless. Who knew? William Faulkner drew? Read more at Maria Popova’s Brainpickings post, William Faulkner’s Little-Known Jazz Age Drawings, with a Side of Literary Derision.

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Vibert’s cardinal

For those who think Norman Rockwell invented the naturalistic cartoon and for those who think hypocritical priests are a new phenomenon, voilà, one of Jehan Georges Vibert’s ecclesiastical comedies. I suppose as a writing exercise, one could devise a story about what’s  Read More 

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Smith College art class

And now back to school! Early in my research on women’s art education, I  Read More 

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Typists' strike

This 1919 poster, which shows typists as New Women who are voicing demands by striking is, in fact, an advertising poster for Labor brand typewriters (see Ruth E. Iskin, “Popularising New Women in Belle Epoque Advertising Posters,” in A Belle Epoque?: Women and Feminism in French Society and Culture, 1890–1914 (2006). But, heck!, it’s a great image. And if we have to resist the Lords of Creation, we might as well do it handsomely. Sisters, solidarity—and happy Labor Day! Read More 

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Note of Explanation

Lovely serendipity: Face-out at a local independent bookstore this week, I found A Note of Explanation by Vita Sackville-West. As if a previously unpublished jeu d’esprit by Sackville-West were not enough, there were the ravishingly elegant, Art Deco illustrations by Kate Baylay who is, for me, a real discovery. I do love illustrated books, especially those that are handsomely made, as this one is. And it’s about Queen Mary’s dollhouse! Not only that, it was originally written to be one of the tiny volumes in the dollhouse library. Read More 

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Powerful Overstory

Usually my blog posts begin as reactions to images, but picturing worlds in fiction depends solely on words. In The Overstory, Richard Powers deploys his gifts and well-honed skills to carry us to the top of the trees, weave us through American society, and plunge us into  Read More 

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Zorn’s bathers

As we near Labor Day, Anders Zorn’s bathers are a reminder of summer’s pleasures that will soon be coming to an end. I loved this picture when I was writing about my young artists in Pont Aven. Nudes were basic to academic training  Read More 

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