Caroline Bergvall’s “Drift,” in Gallery Form

A couple of weeks ago, I read Caroline Bergvall’s Drift, and had one of the most jaw-dropping reading experiences I’ve had in the last few months. If Bergvall’s book were a collection of prose poems, or a meditation on language and its limits, or a nonfiction work documenting national tragedies on the water, it would be hugely effective; instead, it’s all three, a poetic and freeform work that’s both associative and documentarian.

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The Piano, The Water: Notes on “tears become… streams become…”

Because I’m coming at this from a literary angle, and because I don’t get to see art as frequently as I’d like, I know Douglas Gordon’s 24-Hour Psycho largely from its presence in Don DeLillo’s short novel Point Omega. The title of Gordon’s piece describes it: it’s Psycho slowed down so that its running time is 24 hours. Its spirit infuses DeLillo’s novel, setting in motion a place where expectations are defied and pacing takes a backseat to atmosphere. Will someone make use of tears become… streams […]

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Dmitry Samarov’s “Where To?” Book Tour Diary, Part 2

Albuquerque, 10/16-17  The West Coast leg of my book tour starts in Albuquerque. My friends Bud and Jessica invited me to come to town and suggested Bookworks to host a reading. They’ve been out here for years now. They moved from Chicago for the weather and an attraction to the desert. I’ve visited a few times and have never quite figured out what the place is about. This time around I notice signs all over town marking former “Breaking Bad” […]

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Dmitry Samarov’s “Where To?” Book Tour Diary, Part 1

  Before Leaving Town I’ve never gone on book tour before. When my first book, Hack: Stories from a Chicago Cab, came out three years ago, touring didn’t seem like an option. That book was published by University of Chicago Press, which opened up a lot of opportunities for me. I got to be a guest on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, wrote a guest column for Chicago magazine for a month, and got some pretty positive reviews. The book […]

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Dispatches from Ray Johnson at MoMA PS1, September 2013

Walking through the doors of MoMA PS1 for the New York Art Book Fair can be an exercise in sensory overload. On tables situated in the museum itself, along with the outer courtyard, attendees could purchase anything from limited-edition t-shirts to issues of literary magazines. The space abounded with people: it was simultaneously an artistically-inclined bibliophile’s fever dream and the cataclysmic nightmare of the severely claustrophobic.

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Where Album Covers Meet Great Comics

Earlier this year, Neko Case and Kelly Hogan released a collaborative single, “These Aren’t the Droids.” The cover art came via Lynda Barry, whose distinctive style can be seen in a host of books, and whose approach to teaching has been written about in the New York Times. This was the latest example of an artist known for their work in comics taking on an album cover. It’s far from the only one, though; read on for more examples of this kind of overlap.

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Taking Mom to the Art Gallery

I’m too cynical about the art world and my upbringing to give “Another Look at Detroit,” a massive exhibition in Chelsea on view at two wealthy art galleries, Marlborough and Marianne Boesky, a fair assessment either way. The show errs on the side of positivity, censoring any images of urban blight, industrial waste or poverty, which is admirable if not entirely accurate. Todd Levin, a Detroiter and veteran of the New York art world, organized it. Ms. Boesky’s father is […]

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Lessons in Collaboration and Inspiration: Notes on “You Are the Friction”

You Are the Friction foreword by Sean Michaels Sing Statistics; 216 p. The process of inspiration is something that never fails to grab my attention. By which I mean: wear your influences on your sleeve and it’s liable to pique my interest. Years ago, I fell hard for Chris Eaton’s novel The Grammar Architect, which he’s described as a cover of Thomas Hardy’s A Pair of Blue Eyes. More recently, John Darnielle’s book in the 33 1/3 series took Black Sabbath’s Master of […]

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