The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

February 8, 2017
by Dan
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Fade to Black

Hilton Als on James Baldwin, movies, and Raoul Peck’s documentary I Am Not Your Negro, for The New Yorker: One has the sense, in the sections of “I Am Not Your Negro” that are devoted to Baldwin’s relationship to film, that Peck … Continue reading

January 19, 2017
by Dan
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Philip K. Dick’s Vision of Fascism in America

I have to confess that I haven’t seen the TV adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, but I found Aaron Bady’s discussion of the series — and how it differs from the book — at The New Yorker, quite … Continue reading

July 3, 2015
by Dan
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Robert Frank: The Man Who Saw America

This weekend’s New York Times Magazine has a remarkable profile of photographer and filmmaker Robert Frank by writer Nicholas Dawidoff: Frank absorbed artistic influences all over New York. Edward Hopper’s moody office-scapes, restaurant interiors and gas pumps were not in … Continue reading

December 12, 2013
by Dan
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Norman Rockwell, American Romantic

Christopher Benfey reviews American Mirror, Deborah Solomon’s recently published biography of artist Norman Rockwell, for the New York Review of Books: Solomon spends more time than Rockwell did worrying about his status in comparison with what she calls the “Abstract … Continue reading

August 26, 2013
by Dan
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The Mounting Tide of a Mass Avant-Garde

Phil Ford, author of Dig: Sound and Music in Hip Culture, reviews Loren Glass’ new book on Grove Press, Counterculture Colophon: Grove Press, the Evergreen Review and the Incorporation of the Avant-Garde, for the LA Review Books (which is, by the … Continue reading

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