As women in a society of horny animals masquerading as “developed” people, we are probably used to eschewing a utilitarian wardrobe to appeal to a sexual partner’s tastes. We can blame the media or the patriarchy (or both!) for the ease with which we willingly slip into things that start with “miracle,” end with “enhancing,” or demonstrate our ability to conceive and deliver a child with the maternal strength of all of Zeus’s lovers combined, but that doesn’t negate the fact that we do it. But for whom? And perhaps more importantly, why?
A woman putting on a man’s button-down shirt after sex is just one example from the canon of idiotic fashion tropes that has yet to die. Sure, the boxiness serves to accentuate women’s curves and general petiteness, and yes, it helps keep a lady covered, appealing to the standards of our puritanical society. But none of that excuses it for being illogical.
In the introduction to his new coffee-table book of oil paintings, Bush readily — perhaps pre-emptively — admits that he’s a “novice.” Three years after leaving the White House, he set out to adopt the pastime of Winston Churchill, who painted to relieve the “Black Dog” of depression. But age 66 is awfully late to achieve proficiency, especially for a man with a famously short attention span. Bush recalls playfully informing his first art instructor, Gail Norfleet, of his objectives. “Gail, there’s a Rembrandt trapped in this body,” he told her. “Your job is to liberate him.”
Norfleet and Bush’s other talented tutors fell short of that ideal, but they did liberate an inner Bush we — and maybe he — never knew existed: An evocative and surprisingly adept artist who has dramatically improved his technique while also doing penance for one of the greatest disasters in American history.
A Little More Human is a dense, complicated, and funny novel. While some writers, like Rachel Cusk or Sarah Manguso, are finding ways to dispose of conventional plot altogether, Fiona Maazel’s plot barely stops.
After the Blue Hour might be best understood as a novel characterized by the concerns of late style. If the illusion of representational control is the stuff of a younger career, a reckoning with the stakes of representation defines the latter stages of an author’s life. In returning to the moment before he wrote City of Night, Rechy gives us a fictional account of its composition at a time of crisis and confusion — one no less true for avoiding strictly factual autobiography, as his narrator tells us.