Kansas City Library doesn’t really look like an library at all… modern architecture parlante?
photo via LostatEminor
Mark your calendars: according to some scholars the next time it might happen is the year 79,811. I’m talking, of course, about the hybrid holiday of “Thanksgivukkah.” The Borsch Belt-style Pilgrim jokes and mish mosh recipes (turkey brined in Manischewitz anyone?) are flying around the Internet; but since Jews are frequently referred to as “the people of the book” and Pilgrims pretty much lived by the book, Thanksgivukkah seems to me like the quintessential (stressful) family holiday to celebrate by escaping into a book. A couple of these recommendations are holiday themed; some are not—but all will have you saying “Thanks a lattke!” for the all-year-round gift of reading.
"Menurkey" image via Thanksgivukkah boston
The 2013 National Book Award Nominees have been announced. Fresh Air’s book critic Maureen Corrigan reviewed 4 of the nominees:
Among the fiction nominees are Jhumpa Lahiri for The Lowland and George Saunders for The Tenth of December as well as Alice McDermott for her book Someone. In nonfiction, Jill Lepore is nominated for The Book of Ages.
Terry Gross interviewed Lawrence Wright, author of Going Clear, about the world of Scientology and the life of its leader.
Faire du lèche-vitrine — to go window shopping
There’s only one reason to be crucified under the Roman Empire and that is for treason or sedition. Crucifixion, we have to understand, was not actually a form of capital punishment for Rome. In fact, it was often the case that the criminal would be killed first and then crucified. Crucifixion was, in reality, a deterrent; it was an obvious symbol to subject peoples of what happens when you defy the will of Rome. Which is why crucifixions always had to happen in public places: at crossroads, on hills, at the entrance of cities. So for that reason, crucifixion was a punishment reserved … solely for the most extreme crimes, crimes against the state.
… And so, that’s why if we really want to know who Jesus was and what he meant, we should start not at the beginning of the story — with him in a manger, but at the end of the story — with him on a cross. Because if Jesus was in fact crucified by Rome, he was crucified for sedition. He was crucified because he challenged the Roman occupation.
Image of Giotto’s Crucifixion at the Arena Chapel in Padua, Italy
Reza Aslan tells Terry Gross about the Roman destruction of Jerusalem:
They murdered tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Jews in the city. The survivors were scattered to the winds. [The Romans] renamed Jerusalem, in a sense. They wanted to create the impression that there were never any Jews to begin with in the city. This was a moment of deep psychic trauma for the Jews. What made it worse, however, is that as a result of the revolt, Judaism in the Roman Empire became a pariah. It became almost an illegal religion. Jews were not seen as a legitimate cult among the many, many other cults that existed within the Roman Empire.
So for the Christians, they had a very obvious choice here, they could maintain their connections to their Jewish parent religion and experience the same wrath of Rome that the Jews were experiencing — of course the Christians’ experience of the wrath of Rome would come a little bit later — or they could refashion the story of Jesus [and] make him, frankly, less Jewish — make responsibility for his death on the shoulders of the Jews, and not on the Roman Empire.”
Image of Jerusalem via Beliefnet
Stephen King talks to Terry Gross about whether his writing changed after being hit by a car and getting addicted to Oxycontin, a habit which he has since kicked:
When I said that I wasn’t going to write or when I was going to retire, I was doing a lot of Oxycontin for pain and I was still having a lot of pain and it’s a depressive drug anyway and I was kind of a depressed human being because the therapy was painful. The recovery was slow and the whole thing just seemed like too much work, and I thought, ‘Well, I’ll concentrate on getting better and I probably won’t want to write anymore,’ but as health and vitality came back, the urge to write came back. But here’s the thing: I’m on the inside and I’m not the best person to ask if my writing changed after that accident. I don’t really know the answer to that. I do know that … was close, that was really being close to stepping out. The accident and, a couple years later I had double pneumonia and that was close to stepping out of this life as well, and I think you have a couple of close brushes with death like that, it probably has [effect]. Somebody said, ‘The prospect of imminent death has a wonderful clarifying effect on the mind,’ and I don’t know if that’s true, but I do think it cause some changes, some evolution in the way a person works, but on a day-by-day basis I just still enjoy doing what I’m doing.
Image of Stephen King by PILGRIM via Wired
She was born with moles raised black moles all over her face. She never had them removed. She had an older sister who was quite beautiful. She was said to look like the statute of Athena in the Vatican, but Elsa Schaiparelli’s mother always told her she was ugly. And she didn’t feel good about herself until her uncle — who was the foremost astronomer in the world at the time — Giovanni Schaiparelli … took his little niece to the observatory and he asked her to look in the telescope and what she saw was the Big Dipper and he said, “That’s what’s on your face.” And from then on she felt quite attractive. She had a broach made by Cartier that echoed the moles on her face and she wore it under the moles. It became a source of pride for her, that this constellation was on her cheek.
Image of Elsa Schiaparelli, 1932, by George Hoynignen-Huene via We Had Faces Then
There’s a wonderful little passage that Martin Luther King had written from a jail cell where he talks about the effect of racism on young African-American children and how he can see on the face of a child the clouds of inferiority gathering as they observe some racist taunt or action. And when I think about — in some senses — the safest place to raise our children, there are many different forms of risk that we have in life.
Novelist Mohsin Hamid, who lives in Lahore, Pakistan, talks about how a safe place to raise children can be judged in different ways.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s "Letter from A Birmingham Jail" to which Hamid refers above. You can read the entire text of the letter here.
Maureen Corrigan on Patricia Volk's new memoir Shocked:
I cannot tell you, apart from its other virtues, how much fun this memoir is to read. Volk has caught something of Schiaparelli’s surrealist approach to art: her narrative structure is exuberantly loopy and the gorgeous color illustrations and photos scattered throughout the book don’t just supplement the text, but extend it outward, like a Tumblr. The in-joke photo here of Wallis Simpson posing in Schiaparelli’s “lobster dress” is alone worth the price of this book.
Wallis Simpson in Schiaparelli’s lobster dress via Vogue
Maureen Corrigan on the role of Elsa Schiaparelli in writer Patricia Volk’s new memoir Shocked:
Volk’s own memoir zig-zags between the two titanic female figures — her mother and Schiaparelli — who impressed their ideas of beauty and womanhood on her. Schiaparelli was one of those “ugly-beautiful” women who make their mark through the force of personality and imagination. An intimate of Surrealist artists like Marcel Duchamp and Salvador Dali, Schiaparelli blurred the lines between art and fashion. Inspired by Dali’s loony recreation of the Venus de Milo with drawers, “Schap” as she was called, designed a women’s skirt suit with drawers and hardware for pockets.
Elsa Schiaparelli by Andre Durst, 1936