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Friday, August 5, 2016

It Stinks, by Kent Russell, Paris Review

As I strolled through the mid-morning dumpster efflorescence of the west Bronx, I thought to myself: Summertime in the city is a contact high. It has less to do with sun and heat; it’s the sweet-sour reek of parboiling garbage that signals the height of the season is here. I breathed in summer as I skipped past wide, still puddles left by Friday’s a.m. showers.

North of Fordham’s campus, I joined a long line of people buying tickets at the entrance to the New York Botanical Garden. I’d been waiting for days, watching the YouTube livestream, assiduously refreshing the NYBG Twitter feed when, finally, it happened—on Thursday night, the Garden’s nine-year-old corpse flower, its Amorphophallus titanum, started blooming. It was the first specimen of this famously gorgeous-yet-also-rank-as-hell flower to bloom in the Garden since July 7, 1939. That day, in a “tribute to the salubrious climate of the Bronx,” the Amorphophallus titanum was proclaimed official borough flower, a distinction it held until 2000.

'New' Old Books: The Irresistible Charm Of Authors' Lost Works, by Alison Flood, The Guardian

ublish as much as possible of a beloved author’s work, because the fans will lap it up, or exercise a fierce quality control? It’s a question that I was pondering only this week, on reading the forgotten Dr Seuss stories in Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories to my children. We are regular readers of Horton Hears a Who, and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas – and were looking forward to it. And … it just wasn’t as good. The Grinch wasn’t the right colour, he wasn’t very funny, and there were only two pages of him. Horton wasn’t as charming.

The Many By Wyl Menmuir Review – A Disturbing Debut, by Catherine Taylor, The Guardian

Menmuir is sturdily specific on the dwindling fish of the Atlantic – a lost litany of crab, char, shark and shrimp, and of the hazardous nature of fishing itself and its overwhelming loneliness. In a book of this length shortcomings stand out: over-earnestness and a danger of straying into Wicker Man-type territory, that is mostly avoided. On the whole Menmuir steers a steady course; the result is profound and discomfiting, and deserving of multiple readings.