Category Archives: Books and Culture

S.J. Perelman in Wash. Sq.

Who hasn’t seen a musical that makes you want, in the spirit of the moment, to leap up and dance down that stone balustrade past the water fountain and into the dappled park, singing a Broadway tune to beat the … Continue reading

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Deconstructing the matador

Here is something else from Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Jake Barnes is at a bullfight in Pamplona describing to Lady Brett, as they watch, the finer points of an impressive new, young, very handsome matador’s style: Romero never made … Continue reading

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Hemingway on Paris, HLM

Before the scene shifts to Spain, Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises has some bits about Paris and Mencken, two favorites of mine in the pantheons of cities and writers. Hemingway’s protagonist, Jacob Barnes, takes a cab in Paris (circa 1925), … Continue reading

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Swallow up R.I., circa 1862

The British writer Anthony Trollope, born in 1815, wrote over forty novels plus various nonfictional accounts, including a two-volume North America, published in 1862 and based on a nine months’ sojourn here. In 1823, his mother, Frances Trollope, wrote a … Continue reading

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Sussman on Corbu’s autism

One reason people prefer traditional to modern architecture is that their eyes literally refuse to look at blank walls. Shown a picture of a building with a blank wall, the eye of an observer will linger anywhere – on a … Continue reading

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Behold the GPS landscape

In his recent essay in New York Magazine, “I Used to be a Human Being,” on how social media almost killed him, Andrew Sullivan wrote: Our oldest human skills atrophy. GPS, for example, is a godsend for finding our way … Continue reading

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Tour Providence by the book

Tomorrow a bunch of us know-it-alls have been invited to the Providence Preservation Society for a private session to suggest changes for a second edition of PPS’s 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture, written by Mack Woodward and photographed by Warren … Continue reading

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Fond adieu to Horne’s Paris

Here are several more passages lifted from the closing chapters of Alistair Horne’s engaging Seven Ages of Paris: Less felicitous were architectural scandals like the Tour Montparnasse (started in 1959, but not finished till 1973), greatest urban project since Haussmann, … Continue reading

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Passages and lessons, 2016

The passages referred to in the title of this post are from Home Free, a 1977 novel by Dan Wakefield, who earlier had written Going All the Way about the “free” lifestyle embraced by many in the late ’60s early … Continue reading

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The good cheer of beauty

Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray, was published as a serial novel of 20 monthly parts in issues of Punch magazine from January 1847 to July 1848. So next month will be the 170th anniversary of its appearance in print. … Continue reading

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