A lively and playful challenge to resuscitate a form that has been considered all but dead.

LECTURE

An attempt to revive the format and reclaim its place in literary tradition.

In this entry in the publisher’s new Undelivered Lectures series—joining Namwali Serpell’s Stranger Faces—creative writing professor and Guggenheim fellow Cappello argues for everything she thinks a lecture should be: playful and provocative, to be sure, and perhaps incorporating elements of stand-up comedy, performance art, and improvisation. It should not conform to the clichés that most commonly come to mind: pedantic, didactic, boring. “The lecture will have succeeded if, like the essay, it cannot be summarized, but only experienced,” writes Cappello, who effectively demonstrates the connection between the lecture and the essay. While the former is performed and the latter written, they share a similar mindset and spirit. The lecture’s “geography is a the­ater-cocoon, descended from the study carrel where you read, the dark corner of the library you retreated into, which was descended from the cubbyhole you stowed your books and drawings in in kindergarten.” However, don’t confuse the future of the lecture with the popularity of one of its current forms: TED Talks, which “give me the creeps….They all have a whiff of organized religion about them and the feel of the sermon on the infomercial mount.” As her “lecture on the lecture” has led to this book, the author intersperses examples of note taking. These notes, which one might take while listening to a lecture, or use to compose one, show the ways in which the mind works and ideas connect (or not) as the lecturer searches for the form and cohesion through which she can convey her message. Cappello also shows how the tradition of the lecture has too often minimized, belittled, or excluded women. As she argues, the lecture must be better than that, and this is a good introduction to the art.

A lively and playful challenge to resuscitate a form that has been considered all but dead.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-945492-44-0

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Transit Books

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A scrupulously honest and consistently thoughtful love letter to “the most intense form of reading…there is.”

TRANSLATING MYSELF AND OTHERS

The acclaimed author and translator offers thoughts on the latter art and craft.

A Pulitzer Prize–winning author of fiction in English, Lahiri moved to Rome in 2012 to immerse herself in Italian. Since then, she has published both a memoir and fiction in Italian and translated several works from Italian to English. This volume collects several pieces written over the past seven years—her translators’ notes to the novels Ties (2017), Trick (2018), and Trust (2021) by Italian writer (and friend) Domenico Starnone; stand-alone essays; and lectures and addresses—as well as an original introduction and afterword. A few themes emerge: Lahiri frequently returns to Ovid and Metamorphoses, most notably in her lecture “In Praise of Echo” and her moving afterword, which recounts her process of translating Ovid as her mother declined and died; metaphors of immigration and migration—Lahiri is both the daughter of Bengali-speaking Indian immigrants and an immigrant herself, twice over—ground other musings. Possibly the most provocative piece is “Where I Find Myself”—on the process of translating her own novel Dove mi trovo, from the original Italian into English as Whereabouts (2021)—an essay that finds her first questioning the ethics of self-translation (probed with a surgical metaphor) and then impelled to make revisions for a second Italian edition. The weakest essay is “Traduzione (stra)ordinaria / (Extra)ordinary Translation,” an appreciation of Italian revolutionary and thinker Antonio Gramsci, whose Letters From Prison reveal a linguist as ferociously compelled to investigate the process of translation as Lahiri herself. Composed originally as remarks for a panel, it reads like an elegantly annotated list of bullet points that will have readers wishing Lahiri had revised it into a cohesive essay. Readers may also find themselves envious of the author’s students of translation at Princeton, but this sharp collection will have to do. Two essays originally composed in Italian are printed in the original in an appendix.

A scrupulously honest and consistently thoughtful love letter to “the most intense form of reading…there is.”

Pub Date: May 17, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-691-23116-7

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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