Some books are without precedent; Jeffrey Eugenides’s Middlesex is one of those books. Published in 2002, nine years after his debut novel The Virgin Suicides was released, Middlesex is narrated by Cal Stephanides, a hermaphrodite of Greek descent who is raised as a girl in Grosse Point, Michigan, before undergoing surgery in puberty and living his adult life as a man.
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The term “musical legend” is applied far too liberally these days. And the irony is, of course, that those who are truly deserving of such accolades tend to be the least comfortable with embracing them. Kenny Edwards has been making considerable music since the mid ’60s.
It just so happens that, with the holiday season fast upon us, a stack of gift-worthy publications has landed on The Independent‘s Books & Lectures desk. Perhaps your family has an uncle with a passion for American history, a mom enamored with Sting, or kids running around with senses of humor too advanced for their own good; whatever your relatives’ interests, someone’s certain to tear open the wrapping and find the perfect wintertime present in one of these new books.
Imagine a moment of low-grade, but daily, agony. It is time to put your child to bed. This is supposed to be a moment to bond, a moment to read a story, to support future literacy and your relationship. You believe in all that.
Silent Theater: The Art of Edward Hopper by Walter Wells, recently published by Phaidon, is a comprehensive survey of the artist’s work that coincides with the major retrospective now at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. What is it about Hopper, the celebrated 20th-century American painter, that continues to capture the fascination of the American public?
Willard Thompson, author of Dream Helper, says it’s “really a very simple story.” In a sense, that’s true; the action moves right along and adheres very faithfully to the real history of the period from 1786 to the 1820s. However, the theme underlying this adventurous tale is more complex: the culture clash between Spanish soldiers, Franciscan priests, and the native Chumash Indians.
Lee Hamilton has one of the most interesting and impressive resumes in Washington. A former Democratic congressmember from Indiana, he was the vice chair of the 9/11 Commission and co-chaired the Iraq Study Group (also known as the Baker-Hamilton Commission). He is now the director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. We recently spoke by telephone.
B.H. Fairchild is the author of six books of poetry, including ,em>Local Knowledge, The Art of the Lathe, and Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest. He has won numerous honors and awards for his poems, including an NEA Fellowship, the William Carlos Williams Award, and the California Book Award.
Driving to meet Paul Portuges on a cool Sunday afternoon, I noticed a fan of birds opening wide, then closing, and taking off again, and thought-a metaphor for Portuges’s words in his new book of poetry, The Body Electric Journal (Plain View Press, 2007).
In the first essay of Sustainability: Radical Solutions Inspiring Hope, environmental writer Derrick Jensen makes an urgent comparison between the Holocaust and the death-by dams-of salmon in the Pacific Northwest.