Grace Notes

Before Langston died—long before he died—he prepared the order of his funeral service: no minister, no prayers, not even an MC. The folks invited got there, and a jazz… More

Performance Art

Here’s a theory—or elements of a theory—of the comic. In this theory, the comic contains or embraces six elements. The first is the quality of deadpan, of impassivity; for… More

Life and Deaths

ALAN ADELSON: In Regions of the Great Heresy, Jerzy Ficowski gives us this eloquent description of Bruno Schulz’s last days:The foreboding that had haunted Schulz his entire life was… More

Unwearied Blues

Langston Hughes wrote “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” when he was eighteen years of age and published it when he was nineteen—in 1921, in W. E. B. Du Bois’s… More

The Day I Finally Met Baldwin

The 1960s opened propitiously for me, and for my country, Nigeria. In 1960 Nigeria freed itself, at last, from British colonial rule. I published my second novel, and proved… More

The Consolations of Art

No matter how strange Proust’s life might have been, it has been subsumed, as he hoped, into the radiant vision of it that he presented in his writing. Nevertheless,… More

Herself and Strangers

Who’s afraid of Gertrude Stein? I’m not, nor, I trust, are you. We’re paying tribute tonight to a Stein who may, at last, no longer be avoided and pigeonholed… More

The White Problem

In Go Tell It on the Mountain, the young protagonist, John Grimes, stands on a hill in Central Park: “He felt like a long-awaited conqueror, at whose feet flowers… More

Theories of Relativity

Marcel Proust lived from 1871 to 1922, an era that he characterized as the Age of Speed. These exciting, momentous years encompassed the Fin de Siècle, Belle Epoch, and… More

Toward Total Recall

Was it in the summer? It probably was . . . when you thought you had enough time on your hands to fill them with a book, when an unappointed… More

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