The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s was successful not only because of the energy poured into it by hundreds of thousands of people, but also because it sought redress for racial injustice within the rule of law. King adopted a game-changing tool, nonviolence, which reduced white backlash and set the stage for civil rights activists and lawyers to fight for racial equality within the justice system. Nonviolence as a political tool was the brainchild of a lawyer, M. K. Gandhi, who first tested the method in South Africa and then deployed it to oust from India the most powerful colonial power of the time, Great Britain.
Gandhi was no longer alive in 1955 when King was asked to take on his first leadership role in Montgomery, Alabama. How did King develop an affinity for Gandhian principles? What led him to embrace Gandhi’s most potent idea? The story of this unlikely cross-pollination becomes even more remarkable when we consider that an influential teacher whom Gandhi derived his idea from was the author Leo Tolstoy.
Creation begins with a concept. (“It always has to have a concept,” Ms. Boom likes to say.) She then carries out her vision not with software, but with models — handmade, drastically scaled down versions of her projects that she uses to test ideas and materials. The final result often looks as if it could never have been designed on a computer. In a catalog she made of the artist Sheila Hicks’s woven artwork, for example, the edges of the pages, soaked and sawed, echo the edges — the selvage — of Ms. Hicks’s art.
The European poet Paul Celan once said that a poem “intends another, needs this other, needs an opposite.” For Wallace Stevens, this otherness was the world at large—the reason, perhaps, why his poetry contained so little but expressed so much.
The novel is called “Class,” but it’s just as preoccupied with race, and Ms. Rosenfeld deserves a great deal of credit for taking on this minefield of a subject. Karen and her “chronically underemotive” husband, Matt, a low-income-housing advocate who is “currently earning zero dollars per week,” try to live according to their values. This effort entails, among other things, sending their daughter to a public school, Betts, where white students are in the minority.
When I started reading this book I did not know that Sergeant Colin Taylor, stationed on the Isles of Scilly until last year, was something of a star. (Under his management, the Isles of Scilly police force’s Facebook page has achieved more than 50,000 followers (now including me).) I was just mildly surprised that his memoir had drawn me in. I am, surely, above books with pictures of a policeman on a child’s bike on the front cover, a gull standing on a police helmet on the spine, and a stupid pun in the title. But then I remembered something about not judging a book by its cover; and besides, I was in the mood for lightness.
Close enough to Soho to feel disreputable, raucous enough to feel dangerous, Piccadilly Circus will never suffer the fate of New York’s Times Square, and get cleaned up for midwestern visitors. It is impure and corrupting, the luminous heart of London.