Perhaps it's the combination of Sunday night's Mad Men finale and the flurry of Sopranos discussion that followed the death of James Gandolfini, but it's hard not to be struck by the explosion of writing about television that's occurred in the last 15 years or so, facilitated (of course) by the ability to go from rolling credits to publication in an hour (if necessary). After any major episode, there will be a flurry of commentary, and even after minor episodes of minor shows, there are write-ups here and there.
An elaborate cake exactingly modeled from the work of a Dutch minimalist painter. A piece of literary criticism as interesting and expansive as its subject. A photograph of an eerie, antlered hat sculpted from feathers and tulle. Art criticism, written with a novelist's eye. Here are five books that traverse genre and medium, while keeping the same aim: to analyze, celebrate and re-imagine beautiful works of art.
Israeli graphic novelist Rutu Modan's deceptively clear and simple line work — she can conjure a face in two dots and a single, expressive pen stroke — is a deliberate artistic choice. Narratively, Modan's work (including the acclaimed Exit Wounds andher Jamilti and Other Stories) lives in the realm of the indistinct, the undefined and the hotly disputed. In her books, conflicts between family members, lovers and nations all occur in the context of Jewish cultural history.
At a San Jose, Calif. library, a young reader browses a shelf of books featuring a variety of main characters: ducks, hens, white kids, black kids. Libraries help drive demand for children's books with nonwhite characters, but book publishers say there aren't enough libraries to make those books best-sellers.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. When you looked in the closet this morning, what did you pick out, and why? The power suit, the blouse that fits just right, the jeans and the boots? Even if you wear a uniform or overalls, we all make decisions about what we look like and why. Hair says a lot. So do accessories. But any message is also open to misinterpretation. What we hope to say doesn't always come across that way.
What makes Don Draper dashing is the suit, especially. And the hat, the jaw, the hair, the voice, the way he fixes his attention on a woman. But what makes Don Draper seductive as a person and not just a sexual partner is that he is perpetually a whisper away from being a better man. If he were just dashing, he would be harmless; it's that he's seductive that makes him dangerous. It's how close he seems to becoming better that makes him toxic.