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Our Last 50 Referrers

« The Word (and World) Made Flesch | Main | China and Housing Prices »

October 02, 2004


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

A couple of hotstuff new books are upon us. I'm looking forward to longer discussions about them, god knows. But for now, I'd hate to not take note.

  • Nikos Salingaros' "Anti-Architecture and Deconstruction" should ruffle lots of feathers in the building and design world. But I suspect it'll also fascinate many who aren't generally architecture and urbanism fanatics. Puzzled by the prevalance of hideous buildings (and the kind of thinking that justifies and rationalizes such practices), Salingaros applies his powerful mind to such basic questions as: what is a theory? What might the difference be between an art theory and some other kind of theory? What are the ideas and aims of the current architectural elite? And what might explain why these flawed ideas have such a powerful hold on so many people? This is a stunning and deep book, as interesting for its analyses of psychology and politics as it is for its discussions of architecture. It's guaranteed to get the brain buzzing; what a treat too that it's a real reading pleasure, written in a voice that's both urbane and forceful. "Anti-Architecture and Deconstruction" can be bought here, as a conventional paper book and as a PDF download.

  • I'm also looking forward to seeing how Toni Bentley's new book, "The Surrender", will be received. I'm hoping it'll be quite le scandale; it certainly deserves to be. I'm a big fan of the writing of Toni Bentley, who's a former NYCB ballerina and who has until now written about dance and performance. I blogged about her here and here; here's her own website. With "The Surrender," she shifts gears in a startling way. The book, which I got an early look at, is a spare and intense erotic memoir. Bentley encountered a man who, shall we say, possessed the key to her locked-up rollerskates -- and a new world of sensation, release, and fulfillment was hers. Many of the themes that fascinate in her previous books -- art, spirituality, sex, striving, beauty -- find embodiment here too. It's quite a story, delivered with Bentley's daredevil mixture of the funky, the intellectual, and the intuitive. (Camille Paglia fans will spot a kindred spirit in Bentley.) I was fascinated by the book in literary terms, too, because in it Bentley manages something rare, which is to present a convincing American version of the spare French autobiographical novella of pain and love. I found the book an intoxicating performance, informal and approachable, yet sophisticated and elegant too: the good parts of "American" plus the good parts of "French" -- what's not to like? Plus, hey, the book couldn't be sexier. "The Surrender" goes on sale in a couple of weeks, and can be pre-ordered here.

Provocative reading!



posted by Michael at October 2, 2004


“I thought, ‘Oh, it’s the Year of the Ass’”—Toni Bentley quoted in:

"The Ballerina Who Bent,"by Alexandra Jacobs:

(The URL will bring you to this particular article only until the next "Front Page 6" is posted.)

"This column ran on page 1 in the 10/4/2004 edition of The New York Observer."

Also see "'The Surrender': The Beauty of Submission," by Zoe Heller:

Bloggers are already starting to comment:


Dave Lull

Posted by: Dave Lull on October 2, 2004 2:53 PM

Many thanks, Dave. Heavens, not very generous, were they? Though I did like Zoe Heller's point that the hardest thing in writing about sex is writing about great sex, and I liked the point Bentley made in the Observer piece that Balanchine's high art was, to a degree most of his admirers seem unwilling to admit, all about the high and the low. Lord knows, so's her own book.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on October 2, 2004 3:54 PM

Other day, other writer, same message.

"Nicole Krauss was next, ...she has written some poetry--with, she told us, a bit of mentorship from Brodsky that began her freshman year of college. She read a letter he'd written with advice on specific poems; his reaction to one titled "Sleeping With Baryshnikov" was that "sex is something that is easier done than said, and this poem proves it."
(from this)

Posted by: Tatyana on October 4, 2004 2:14 PM

Though I did like Zoe Heller's point that the hardest thing in writing about sex is writing about great sex, and I liked the point Bentley made in the Observer piece that Balanchine's high art was, to a degree most of his admirers seem unwilling to admit, all about the high and the low. Lord knows, so's her own book.

Posted by: 货架 on October 27, 2004 7:06 AM

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