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A Tiny Swan Song for Doris Lessing, 94

Doris Lessing died this morning at such a good, old age that I can hardly complain about her departure. But she did go just as I’d just been thinking about how much she’d given us and how little we’d noticed it lately. She said many wonderful, incisive things that opened our eyes, minds, hearts and crystallized a lot of realities with which we’d only been murkily familiar. The quote I always kept taped somewhere near me was this: “A simple grateful thought turned heavenward is the most perfect prayer.”

The Wes Anderson Collocation

My colleague Matt Zoller Seitz wrote The Wes Anderson Collection, a terrifically detailed tome about the terrifically detailed director Wes Anderson. At New York City’s Strand Bookstore, I moderated a panel about the book with Seitz (pictured left) and The New Yorker’s Richard Brody. And his beard.

The Church of Harriet the Spy

Fetching your coffee in Williamsburg at 7am on a Sunday morning means you witness a lot of walks of shame. This morning I got caught behind a couple blocking the sidewalk as they ambled to the subway. He was trying, subtly subtly, to hurry them along but she was so lit up in a reverie of Sunday-morning-new-love-this-is-how-it’s-supposed-to-be that she didn’t pick up his cues. When they got to the stop she reached up expectantly, head tilted back and lips slightly parted for a big Hollywood goodbye kiss, but he merely pecked her cheek and patted her back while conspicuously removing his pelvis from the picture. Just like that her face fell, shoulders crumpling as she descended the stairs to the subway, and I shuddered, thinking of the awful self-loathing to which she was also about to descend. I could see the whole thing just from that moment: They’d met online, gone on two dates he’d considered more mediocre than she had, and they’d slept together the night before because of his idle desire to get laid and her powerful need for connection. The guy and I stood together at the corner, waiting for the traffic light to change, and I could feel the relief radiating from him like UV rays. Involuntarily I snorted. It was more of an audible exhale, really, but I confess I’d forgotten anyone could hear or see me since I consider myself invisible when I’m in Harriet the Spy mode. (It’s amazing how often I meet people who’ve never noticed me though I’ve watched them many times.) Suddenly he looked straight at me with the most searing mix of defensiveness and fury, and I–overcompensator that I sometimes can be–smiled evilly right back. The light changed, he rushed away, and I apologetically sent them both a silent burst of peony compassion. O, Sunday morning. Jesus, indeed.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy