Ocean currents. Coral reefs. Algae. Fog. Landslides. Salt domes. Perpetual creation and destruction. As part of the Advanced Research graduate studio at the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of the Cooper Union, Diana Agrest has assembled a collection of drawings, models, and essays that delve into natural and material processes with the aim of building a bridge between humanity, time, and nature, which has its own scales and intentions. Art, science, philosophy converge. Ideas are challenged and reorganized.
I picked up this slender but powerful book on the last day of the year and read into the night, into the new year. Days later, I find it unfurling like a banner in my mind as 2021 lurches forward. The story of Kazu, a deceased laborer whose ghost haunts one of Tokyo's busiest train stations, is as much social commentary as it is character study with its examination of poverty, homelessness, grief, and regret. Miri deftly weaves events of Kazu's life that led to his homelessness with Japanese history with conversations from station passengers who float into view and then bob away, unaware, on their own streams. Miri's writing feels almost painterly at times: repetition feels like brushwork, vivid colors flash behind the lids, texture shapes the geography of loss. A beautiful ache of a book.
Mesmerizing. Strange. Glorious.
I have to thank fellow bookseller Nicole for introducing me to this stunning book. The technical skill left me astonished. I wanted a bench, as though in a museum, to sit and quietly take in each page of black-and-white pen-and-ink line drawings. Van den Ende's debut is a wordless story of a small paper boat's epic journey across a vast and fathomless ocean. It teems with myriad flora and fauna that reside somewhere between fairy tale and reality. It intrigues. It beguiles. An elegant testament to solitude, strength, and bravery.
I found myself writing down words and sentences on scraps of paper as I read Kaveh Akbar's debut collection of poetry. More an act of devotion than habit, I wanted to keep his words close. While addiction and recovery form the central thesis of Akbar's work, it's the manner in which he mines the unreliable taxonomies of desire, want, and need that took me over. The title of the collection comes from an exquisite line in one of the poems: "Thinking if it had a problem it might have a solution/ thinking if I called a wolf a wolf I might dull its fangs.” A paean to the ineffable, the elusive, the sometimes maddening limits of language and its infinite imperfections that can make your head hurt and your heart break.