Books by Daniel Halpern

Released: Nov. 1, 1999

This fat "companion volume" to Halpern's earlier anthology, The Art of the Tale (not reviewed), offers a generous sampling of contemporary short fiction (all 78 contributors were "born after 1937")—though it's perhaps less truly "international" than announced (more than 50 of the stories were written in English). Nevertheless, Halpern's range is impressive, extending to such writers of recent emergence as Vikram Chandra, Junot D°az, Nathan Englander, Can Xue, and Banana Yoshimoto. Only a handful of stories are even arguably overfamiliar (Graham Swift's "Learning to Swim," Haruki Murakami's "The Elephant Vanishes," the late Toni Cade Bambara's "Gorilla, My Love")—and Halpern has unearthed three to four dozen gems, including Kenyan Ngugi wa Thiong'o's moving "Minutes of Glory," Britisher Jim Crace's suggestive allegory "The Prospect from the Silver Hills," Hungarian PÇter Esterh†zy's amusingly metafictional "Roberto Narrates," and Somalian Neustadt Prize—winner Nuruddin Farah's compact parable of colonialism, "My Father, the Englishman, and I." The only book of its kind well worth its (steep) price, and endlessly browsable. Read full book review >
WRITERS ON ARTISTS by Daniel Halpern
Released: Feb. 14, 1989

A collection of 41 short essays by noted writers on (mostly) noted artists. Edited by Antaeus editor Halpern (On Nature—ed., 1987), the essays—some new, some old, all by 20th-century writers—cover artists from the 15th century (Piero della Francesca, dissected by Zbigniew Herbert; Paolo Uccello, explored by Italo Calvino) to the 20th (Hemingway on Joan Miro; Updike on Helga, Andrew Wyeth's muse/model; Camus on Balthus; etc.). As to be expected, a good many of the pieces reveal as much about the writer as the artist (e.g., Mailer sees Picasso as "the painter as warrior"; Malraux finds in Goya a reflection of his own yearning for and rebellion against the absolute; Randall Jarrell rails against Abstract Expressionism as a forsaking of the real world). Nearly all the essays, however (one per artist, except for Picasso and Goya, who get two each, and CÇzanne, who rates three), offer penetrative takes, well worth reading. (Illustrations representative of each discussed artist's work; not seen.) Read full book review >