The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Midweek Miscellany


Everyday Epic — Tom Spurgeon interviews Tom Gauld at The Comics Reporter:

I find that when I’m drawing I’m quite happy to come up with larger than life, epic things but when I write things tend to be more down to earth. The contrast between greatness and everyday reality is something which interests me.

You can find my interview with Tom here. His new book Goliath is out in March.

I Am Lousy Copywriter — A list by legendary adman David Ogilvy, author of Confessions of an Advertising Man, at Letter of Note:

If all else fails, I drink half a bottle of rum and play a Handel oratorio on the gramophone. This generally produces an uncontrollable gush of copy.

My Name is Tyranny — Mike Doherty interviews William Gibson about his new book, Distrust That Particular Flavor, for Salon:

I very seldom compose anything in my head which later finds its way into text, except character names sometimes – I’m often very much inspired by things that I misunderstand. Have you ever seen Brian Eno’s deck of Oblique Strategies? One of them is “Honor thy error as a hidden intention.” That’s my favorite. [At a] hotel in New York a couple of days ago, the young woman who checked me in said what sounded to me like, “Thank you, sir; my name is Tyranny. If there’s anything you need …” For the rest of the day, I was thinking of young, benevolent female characters with the first name “Tyranny.”

And finally…

Tiptoeing Through a Sickroom — Luc Sante on Patti Smith for The New York Review of Books:

Her memoir Just Kids (2010), the account of her friendship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, has been justly celebrated. It is delicate and affectionate as it tells of their adventures in a New York City bohemia that now seems a century removed, of the endurance of their relationship despite his realization that he was gay, of their separate pursuits of fame, of his illness and death. It is almost too literary for its own good, since her choices of word and phrase always come down on the genteel side of the ledger: “perhaps” rather than “maybe,” “rise” rather than “stand,” “yet” rather than “but,” “one” rather than “you.” There’s hardly a contraction, outside the dialogue, in the entire book. But despite the fact that this sort of talk is patently not the way she expressed herself at the time, and that it sounds more effortful than natural on the page, it does cover the book with an appropriate hush—it sounds like someone tiptoeing through a sickroom.


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