My review of Christian Salmon’s Storytelling: Bewitching the Modern Mind is now online at 3:AM Magazine here.
I’m currently reading the new Verso translation of Eric Hazan’s The Invention of Paris. It’s a beautifully imagined book, full of colourful descriptions of Parisian places. I’ll review it soon, but in the meantime, here’s what Hazan says about the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, a notoriously radical Parisian locale:
The present Faubourg retains few material traces of this glorious past, and only the friends of Red Paris mentally raise their hats when they cross Rue Charles-Delescluze and remember that at the crossroads of Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine and Rue de Cotte they are on the site of the barricade where the representative of the people Alphonse Baudin was killed for twenty-five francs. But even if the proximity of the Bastille Opera now disagreeably contaminates the first few metres of the Faubourg, even if Rue de Lappe, long since deserted by the Auvergnats, is no longer the haven that it once was for modern art, still the Aligre market, the fountains on the corner of Rue de Charonne and in the square in front of the Saint-Antoine hospital, the courtyards where illustrators and computer buffs, Chinese artisans and photographers, work cheek by jowl – this unique mixture maintains the quarter’s identity as plebeian and industrious. If, taking up Marcel Duchamp’s idea, we should manufacture cans of Air de Paris, it is certainly that of Faubourg Saint-Antoine with which I would fill mine. (124)
Eric Hazan will be in conversation with Iain Sinclair in London’s Institut Francais this Wednesday 3rd March. (Details here.)
Just back from Berlin, where I wandered around staring goggle-eyed at the truly strange landscape of meticulously reconstructed 18th Century buildings and the postwar apartment blocks that line the streets of both East and West.
Because I spent a day at a conference in the Schloss Charlottenburg, I didn’t get a chance to see as much of the city as I would have liked. Instead, I bought a day pass for bus and rail, and spent every evening jumping from U-Bahn to S-Bahn to bus. Inevitably, I was drawn towards the bruised monumentality of the Brandenburg gate and the Reichstag, but also to the seedy vitality of the Bahnhof Zoo.
I review Adam Braver’s novel about the day of JFK’s assassination, November 22, 1963, on 3:AM here.
My review of Michael Sorkin’s very good book on New York urbanism, ‘Twenty Minutes in Manhattan’, is on the 3:AM Magazine website here.
Perhaps the most irksome of Ikea Modernism’s products was Channel 4’s The Perfect Home, presented by Alain de Botton, promoting his The Architecture of Happiness. Perambulating about the place with an expression of casual intellectuality and immense self-satisfaction, he encapsulates all that is malign in British intellectual life. De Botton personifies the faux-naïve stance of the televisual idiot-expert, who ventriloquises thinkers from Proust to Boethius to Le Corbusier, emphasising how they can enhance (but certainly never truly change, or question the purpose of) the lives of the administrative classes of terminal capital.
Laura’s started a blog about caricatures, looking at contemporary chaps what draw (Steve Bell, for example) and auld fellas from years ago (Daumier, for one). Expect a post on why noted pioneer of photography, Nadar, was also an underrated cartoonist, and other engaging tales from mid-19th century Paris. Read her blog here.