Sharp, insightful writing that firmly positions Nussbaum as one of the leading TV critics of our time.

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I LIKE TO WATCH

ARGUING MY WAY THROUGH THE TV REVOLUTION

In her book debut, Pulitzer Prize–winning New Yorker critic Nussbaum offers an expansive collection of writing that captures the artistically evolving spirit of current TV.

The author’s profiles on TV giants such as Joan Rivers, Jenji Kohan, and Ryan Murphy provide penetrating glimpses into how their personal histories have helped to shape their careers. In one of the book’s longest—and best—pieces, “Confessions of the Human Shield,” Nussbaum wrestles with the work of renowned artistic talents recently caught up in the #MeToo movement, including Harvey Weinstein, Woody Allen, Louis C.K, and Roman Polanski. “What should we do with the art of terrible men?” asks the author. The revelations about the widespread sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood, she writes, “made the job of criticizing art seem like an indulgence—the monocle-peering that intellectuals resort to when we should be talking about justice.” Nussbaum incisively discusses the difficulties in separating their creative output from their offensive actions. “When you look at [Polanski’s] Rosemary’s Baby sideways,” she writes, “it becomes a darkly funny cautionary tale that could have been written by Andrea Dworkin….The movie was a feminist masterpiece created by a sex criminal.” Assembled together, the author’s essays and reviews reveal her vast interests and unpretentious tastes as well as her keen insights into what’s phony. She seems equally appreciative of gold-standard dramatic series like The Sopranos and the pleasurable indulgences of “unscripted” reality shows such as Vanderpump Rules. We are currently living in what many consider the golden age of TV, with countless quality series from networks and streaming services introduced daily, and Nussbaum has proven to be a shrewd, highly reliable source for evaluating this rapidly progressing medium. “There was something alive about the medium to me, organic in a way that other art is not,” she writes, reflecting on her career. “You enter into it; you get changed with it; it changes with you….[TV] was where I wanted to live.”

Sharp, insightful writing that firmly positions Nussbaum as one of the leading TV critics of our time.

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50896-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2019

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A wondrous mix of races, ages, genders, and social classes, and on virtually every page is a surprise.

HUMANS OF NEW YORK

STORIES

Photographer and author Stanton returns with a companion volume to Humans of New York (2013), this one with similarly affecting photographs of New Yorkers but also with some tales from his subjects’ mouths.

Readers of the first volume—and followers of the related site on Facebook and elsewhere—will feel immediately at home. The author has continued to photograph the human zoo: folks out in the streets and in the parks, in moods ranging from parade-happy to deep despair. He includes one running feature—“Today in Microfashion,” which shows images of little children dressed up in various arresting ways. He also provides some juxtapositions, images and/or stories that are related somehow. These range from surprising to forced to barely tolerable. One shows a man with a cat on his head and a woman with a large flowered headpiece, another a construction worker proud of his body and, on the facing page, a man in a wheelchair. The emotions course along the entire continuum of human passion: love, broken love, elation, depression, playfulness, argumentativeness, madness, arrogance, humility, pride, frustration, and confusion. We see varieties of the human costume, as well, from formalwear to homeless-wear. A few celebrities appear, President Barack Obama among them. The “stories” range from single-sentence comments and quips and complaints to more lengthy tales (none longer than a couple of pages). People talk about abusive parents, exes, struggles to succeed, addiction and recovery, dramatic failures, and lifelong happiness. Some deliver minirants (a neuroscientist is especially curmudgeonly), and the children often provide the most (often unintended) humor. One little boy with a fishing pole talks about a monster fish. Toward the end, the images seem to lead us toward hope. But then…a final photograph turns the light out once again.

A wondrous mix of races, ages, genders, and social classes, and on virtually every page is a surprise.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05890-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.

HOW TO BE AN ARTIST

A noted critic advises us to dance to the music of art.

Senior art critic at New York Magazine and winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism, Saltz (Seeing Out Louder, 2009, etc.) became a writer only after a decadeslong battle with “demons who preached defeat.” Hoping to spare others the struggle that he experienced, he offers ebullient, practical, and wise counsel to those who wonder, “How can I be an artist?” and who “take that leap of faith to rise above the cacophony of external messages and internal fears.” In a slim volume profusely illustrated with works by a wide range of artists, Saltz encourages readers to think, work, and see like an artist. He urges would-be artists to hone their power of perception: “Looking hard isn’t just about looking long; it’s about allowing yourself to be rapt.” Looking hard yields rich sources of visual interest and also illuminates “the mysteries of your taste and eye.” The author urges artists to work consistently and early, “within the first two hours of the day,” before “the pesky demons of daily life” exert their negative influence. Thoughtful exercises underscore his assertions. To get readers thinking about genre and convention, for example, Saltz presents illustrations of nudes by artists including Goya, Matisse, Florine Stettheimer, and Manet. “Forget the subject matter,” he writes, “what is each of these paintings actually saying?” One exercise instructs readers to make a simple drawing and then remake it in an entirely different style: Egyptian, Chinese ink-drawing, cave painting, and the styles of other artists, like Keith Haring and Georgia O’Keeffe. Freely experiment with “different sizes, tools, materials, subjects, anything,” he writes. “Don’t resist something if you’re afraid it’s taking you far afield of your usual direction. That’s the wild animal in you, feeding.” Although much of his advice is pertinent to amateur artists, Saltz also rings in on how to navigate the art world, compose an artist’s statement, deal with rejection, find a community of artists, and beat back demons. Above all, he advises, “Work, Work, Work.”

A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08646-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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