The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

September 8, 2016
by Dan
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Luc Sante on Jean-Michel Basquiat

New York Review of Books blog has posted Luc Sante’s reminiscences of artist Jean-Michel Basquait: The last time I saw Jean I was going home from work, had just passed through the turnstile at the 57th Street BMT station. We … Continue reading

July 1, 2016
by Dan
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Elda Rotor: The Woman Who Runs Penguin Classics

CNN Philippines interviewsd Elda Rotor, vice president and publisher of Penguin Classics at the Penguin Random House in New York: The main joy is bringing an audience to a work that would otherwise lead a quiet life, not having the … Continue reading

June 2, 2016
by Dan
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A Window onto a Window

In this profile of Peter Mendelsund in the June issue of Rhapsody Magazine, there is a lovely bit about the designer’s architect-artist father: In the living room of Knopf associate art director Peter Mendelsund’s Upper Manhattan apartment, inspiration is everywhere: a battered, sea-green … Continue reading

May 28, 2016
by Dan
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Moholy-Nagy: Future Present

The New York Times on a new exhibition of work by Hungarian artist and designer Laszlo Moholy-Nagy at the Guggenheim in New York: The first large Moholy-Nagy exhibition in this country in over 50 years may also be, its organizers … Continue reading

March 22, 2016
by Dan
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Brooklyn’s Most Cluttered Bookstore

The New Yorker visits the Community Bookstore in Brooklyn as owner John Scioli begins to clean out his “cavern of books” in preparation of the store’s closing in May:

February 27, 2016
by Dan
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From Thomas Mann to Amazon — The Art of Literary Publishing in New York

The Millions has a long, but very interesting (and, at times, surprisingly blunt) essay by veteran Doubleday editor Gerald Howard on editing and literary publishing in New York: At the simplest, most basic level, I’ve been reading for a living … Continue reading

February 27, 2016
by Dan
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Why McNally Jackson Books Thrives

The New York Business Journal looks why McNally Jackson is thriving, while other the city’s other independent bookstores are disappearing: most literati agree that independent book stores are an endangered species in high-rent New York. See what’s happening right now … Continue reading

February 22, 2016
by Dan
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Gramercy Typewriter — Family Business Since 1932

The latest short film in Huck magazine’s ‘Family Business’ series visits Gramercy Typewriter Co., the father and son typewriter repair shop in New York: You may remember that Gramercy Typewriter Co. was the subject of another short documentary a couple of years ago… … Continue reading

February 18, 2016
by Dan
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Robert Caro on New York

At The Gothamist, Christopher Robbins talks to writer Robert Caro about New York and The Power Broker, his classic Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of city planner Robert Moses: Moses had done something no one else had ever done. Everyone thought power comes from being … Continue reading

February 17, 2016
by Dan
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New Directions Staying Small

Maria Bustillos visits New Directions and talks to publisher and president Barbara Epler about the business for The New Yorker: Today’s visitor to New Directions’ elegantly shabby offices, in Chelsea, may stand on the nineteenth-floor balcony beside Epler, who is in … Continue reading

February 2, 2016
by Dan
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Chris Jackson: Building a Literary Movement

New York Times Vinson Cunningham profiles Chris Jackson, executive editor at Spiegel & Grau and editor of award-winning author Ta-Nehisi Coates: Jackson’s role… is to perform nothing less than a kind of magic. He stands between the largely white culture-making machinery and artists … Continue reading

October 26, 2015
by Dan
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Love Among the Ruins

At the New York Times, Edmund White examines our enduring fascination with the New York of the 1970s: Recently there’s been, in TV and film and certainly in books, an intense yearning for a specific five-year period in New York City, … Continue reading

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