Black Fever (2010) by Polly Morgan.
• “She was something of an Auntie Mame figure for me. We spent years haunting secondhand bookstores in Berkeley, Los Angeles, and New York, talking for hours over ever more bizarre dishes of Chinese Hakka cuisine in a hole-in-the-wall eatery at Stockton and Broadway in San Francisco, watching Kenneth Anger flicks and the surrealistic stop-motion puppet masterpieces of Ladislas Starevich, which Tom Luddy would screen for us at the Pacific Film Archive, over and over again until our eyeballs nearly fell out.” Steve Wasserman remembers Susan Sontag.
• California Dreams is “the first career-spanning compendium of Mouse’s work; it includes his recent landscapes and figurative paintings. Taken as a whole, the work is a weird, gilded, space-age, flame-licked way to chart the rise of late-twentieth-century youth culture”. Jeffery Gleaves on the psychedelic art of Stanley Mouse.
• “Not only does moral preoccupation corrupt the artfulness of fiction, but fiction is an inefficient and insincere vehicle for moralizing,” says Alice Gregory, joining Pankaj Mishra to address the question: “Do Moralists Make Bad Novelists?”
Nabokov’s posthumously published Lectures on Literature reprints a corny magazine ad that Nabokov liked to show to his students at Cornell, as an example of a certain kind of sunny American materialism and kitsch (or poshlost, in Russian): it’s an ad for flatware featuring a young housewife, hands clasped, eyes brimming as she contemplates a place setting. Nabokov titled it “Adoration of Spoons,” and it undoubtedly played a significant role in his creation of the suburban widow Charlotte Haze. From such strangely endearing trash was a masterpiece born.
John Colapinto reviewing Nabokov in America by Robert Roper
• “How many typefaces is too many typefaces?” asks Adrian Shaughnessy. “What happens to our ability to discriminate and exercise good judgment when we have a near-infinite number of possibilities?”
• John Banville reviews The Prince of Minor Writers, selected essays of Max Beerbohm edited by Phillip Lopate.
• My thanks once again to Dennis Cooper for featuring this blog on his list of cultural favourites.
• More Moogery: Sarah Angliss, Gazelle Twin and Free School in the Moog Sound Lab.
• Mix of the week: XLR8R Podcast 394 by Francesca Lombardo.
• Atlas Obscura gets to grips with the enormous Devil’s Bible.
• Feel You, a new song by Julia Holter.