Our culture values striving, purpose, achievement, and accumulation. This book asks us to get sidetracked along the way. It praises aimlessness as a source of creativity and an alternative to the demand for linear, efficient, instrumentalist thinking and productivity.Aimlessness collects ideas and stories from around the world that value indirection, wandering, getting lost, waiting, meandering, lingering, sitting, laying about, daydreaming, and other ways to be open to possibility, chaos, and multiplicity. Tom Lutz considers aimlessness as a fundamental human proclivity and method, one that has been vilified by modern industrial societies but celebrated by many religious traditions, philosophers, writers, and artists. He roams a circular path that snakes and forks down sideroads, traipsing through modernist art, nomadic life, slacker comedies, drugs, travel, nirvana, and oblivion. The book is structured as a recursive, disjunctive spiral of short sections, a collage of narrative, anecdotal, analytic, and lyrical passages—intended to be read aimlessly, to wind up someplace unexpected.
On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first person in history to leave the Earth's atmosphere and venture into space. His flight aboard a Russian Vostok rocket lasted only 108 minutes, but at the end of it he had become the most famous man in the world. Back on the ground, his smiling face captured the hearts of millions around the globe. Film stars, politicians and pop stars from Europe to Japan, India to the United States vied with each other to shake his hand.
Despite this immense fame, almost nothing is known about Gagarin or the exceptional people behind his dramatic space flight. Starman tells for the first time Gagarin's personal odyssey from peasant to international icon, his subsequent decline as his personal life began to disintegrate under the pressures of fame, and his final disillusionment with the Russian state. President Kennedy's quest to put an American on the Moon was a direct reaction to Gagarin's achievement--yet before that successful moonshot occurred, Gagarin himself was dead, aged just thirty-four, killed in a mysterious air crash. Publicly the Soviet hierarchy mourned; privately their sighs of relief were almost audible, and the KGB report into his death remains secret.
Entwined with Gagarin's history is that of the breathtaking and highly secretive Russian space program - its technological daring, its triumphs and disasters. In a gripping account, Jamie Doran and Piers Bizony reveal the astonishing world behind the scenes of the first great space spectacular, and how Gagarin's flight came frighteningly close to destruction.
“Kerouac’s oldest living girlfriend!” (Helen Weaver’s own description) While there are a number of Kerouac “tell-alls” by former girlfriends and wives, this book differs in that it combines an intimate portrait of Kerouac with a scholarly look at the gradual change in his reputation over the years. Weaver paints a broader portrait of the times, including a brief glimpse into the early sixties when she was involved with another famous American iconoclast, Lenny Bruce. Weaver looks back on her time with Kerouac after an interval of fifty years, and talks about how her feelings toward him as a man, and as a writer, have changed during that period. Weaver admits that while women like Joyce Johnson, Edie Kerouac-Parker, Joan Haverty and Carolyn Cassady spent much more time with Kerouac than she did (she threw him out after a couple of months), their relationship was very intense for both of them. Kerouac changed her life, and Weaver kept careful track of the arc of his life over the years. Her book is an ongoing mediation of his life and work. Weaver reveals the literary Greenwich Village of the 50s and the publishing scene during that time. The book will benefit from renewed interest in the 50s (given the popularity of shows like Mad Men). This book will be embraced by Beat fans based on the never-ending fascination with Kerouac’s life. And, endorsements are coming in from Joyce Johnson, Carolyn Cassady, Ann Charters, David Amram and others well-known for their involvement with the Beat.
A comprehensive and engaging biography of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of the beloved classic The Yearling.
Washington, DC, born and Wisconsin educated, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was an unlikely author of a coming-of-age novel about a poor central Florida child and his pet fawn—much less one that has become synonymous with Florida literature writ large.
Rawlings was a tough, ambitious, and independent woman who refused the conventions of her early-twentieth-century upbringing. Determined to forge a literary career beyond those limitations, she found her voice in the remote, hardscrabble life of Cross Creek, Florida. There, Rawlings purchased a commercial orange grove and discovered a fascinating world out of which to write—and a dialect of the poor, swampland community that the literary world had yet to hear. She employed her sensitive eye, sharp ear for dialogue, and philosophical spirit to bring to life this unknown corner of America in vivid, tender detail, a feat that earned her the Pulitzer Prize in 1938. Her accomplishments came at a price: a failed first marriage, financial instability, a contentious libel suit, alcoholism, and physical and emotional upheaval.
With intimate access to Rawlings’s correspondence and revealing early writings, Ann McCutchan uncovers a larger-than-life woman who writes passionately and with verve, whose emotions change on a dime, and who drinks to excess, smokes, swears, and even occasionally joins in on an alligator hunt. The Life She Wished to Live paints a lively portrait of Rawlings, her contemporaries—including her legendary editor, Maxwell Perkins, and friends Zora Neale Hurston, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald—and the Florida landscape and people that inspired her.
A fresh, innovative biography of the twentieth century’s most iconic filmmaker.
In The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock, Edward White explores the Hitchcock phenomenon—what defines it, how it was invented, what it reveals about the man at its core, and how its legacy continues to shape our cultural world.
The book’s twelve chapters illuminate different aspects of Hitchcock’s life and work: “The Boy Who Couldn’t Grow Up”; “The Murderer”; “The Auteur”; “The Womanizer”; “The Fat Man”; “The Dandy”; “The Family Man”; “The Voyeur”; “The Entertainer”; “The Pioneer”; “The Londoner”; “The Man of God.” Each of these angles reveals something fundamental about the man he was and the mythological creature he has become, presenting not just the life Hitchcock lived but also the various versions of himself that he projected, and those projected on his behalf.
From Hitchcock’s early work in England to his most celebrated films, White astutely analyzes Hitchcock’s oeuvre and provides new interpretations. He also delves into Hitchcock’s ideas about gender; his complicated relationships with “his women”—not only Grace Kelly and Tippi Hedren but also his female audiences—as well as leading men such as Cary Grant, and writes movingly of Hitchcock’s devotion to his wife and lifelong companion, Alma, who made vital contributions to numerous classic Hitchcock films, and burnished his mythology. And White is trenchant in his assessment of the Hitchcock persona, so carefully created that Hitchcock became not only a figurehead for his own industry but nothing less than a cultural icon.
Ultimately, White’s portrayal illuminates a vital truth: Hitchcock was more than a Hollywood titan; he was the definitive modern artist, and his significance reaches far beyond the confines of cinema.
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