Alan Hurless

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The Distracted Public: Saul Bellow on How Writers and Artists Save Us from the “Moronic Inferno” of Our Time

In 1990, fourteen years after he received the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Pulitzer Prize, and two years after being awarded the National Medal of Arts, <b>Saul Bellow</b> (June 10, 1915–April 5, 2005) delivered a lecture at Oxford University titled <b>“The Distracted Public.”</b> Eventually included in <b>It All</b> …

Mark Rothko on the Transcendent Power of Art and How (Not) To Experience His Paintings

Between January and July of 1956, a pivotal point in art when abstraction and realism confronted one another in a particularly fierce conflict and fine art was exorcising its ambivalence about the “organic” and the “formal” on canvases the world over, the celebrated writer, poet, critic, and public …

The Benjamin Franklin Effect: The Surprising Psychology of How to Handle Haters

<i>“We are what we pretend to be,”</i> Kurt Vonnegut famously wrote, <i>“so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”</i> But given how much our minds mislead us, what if we don’t realize when we’re pretending — who are we then? That’s precisely what <b>David McRaney</b> explores in <b>You Are Now Less Dumb: How to</b> …

The Hating Book: An Illustrated Vintage Parable About What Every Friendship Needs

In 1961, young Maurice Sendak illustrated <i>Let’s Be Enemies</i> — a charming lesson in friendship via reverse psychology by writer Janice May Urdy, published by Harper’s children’s division. Eight years later, the same publisher, overseen by Sendak’s remarkable editor and patron-saint Ursula Nordstrom, …

Lemony Snicket and Lisa Brown’s Charming Illustrated Allegory about Curiosity, the Imagination, and the Subjectivity of Observation

Few children’s book writers today could compare in humor, sensitivity, and sheer creative irreverence to <b>Lemony Snicket</b>, the young-readers pen name of grown-up author Daniel Handler, under which he has penned such magnificent creative collaborations as <i>13 Words</i>, illustrated by the great Maira Kalman,</i> …