The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

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

May 10, 2013
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

Arresting Charm — Writer and artist Howard Chaykin on the late Carmine Infantino who died April 4th: My best friend Michael Abramowitz was a huge fan of Carmine’s, and I held and hold his tenure on The Flash from 1956 … Continue reading

June 26, 2012
by Dan
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Midweek Miscellany

An interview with award-winning Toronto-based illustrator Gary Taxali at GrainEdit. How Disappointing — Book designer Peter Mendelsund on what we picture in our minds when we read literary works: “Call me Ishmael.” What happens when you read this line? You … Continue reading

April 27, 2012
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

Sturm und Drang — Author Nick Harkaway (Angelmaker and the forthcoming The Blind Giant: Being Human in a Digital World) on Amazon and the publishing industry for The Guardian: The most thunderous argument in Amazon’s favour is that the market has spoken, and demands cheaper … Continue reading

January 25, 2012
by Dan
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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 … Continue reading

April 6, 2011
by Dan
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Patti Smith 1969-1976, Photographs by Judy Linn

“I was eager to be Judy’s model and to have the opportunity to work with a true artist. I felt protected in the atmosphere we created together. We had an inner narrative, producing our own unspoken film, with or without … Continue reading

April 6, 2011
by Dan
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Midweek Miscellany

Book Art: Iconic Sculptures and Installations Made from Books by Paul Sloman, a 220-page overview of contemporary art, installation, and design created with and from books , published Gestalten. La Mémoire Retrouvée — Edmund de Waal, author of The Hare … Continue reading

January 31, 2011
by Dan
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Monday Miscellany

These are mostly links I was going to post on Friday, but with a long post on Mendelsund and a last minute WordPress fail (to add to all the usual pressures of part-time blogging) I thought I might as well … Continue reading

January 17, 2011
by Dan
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Patti Smith on Charlie Rose

Charlie Rose recently talked Patti Smith about her award-winning book Just Kids and her relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe. In this excerpt from the interview Smith sings her song My Blakean Year: You can watch the full interview here. (via … Continue reading

January 3, 2011
by Dan
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Patti Smith on PBS NewsHour

I began, of course, as a poet, but the power of rock ‘n’ roll — rock ‘n’ roll was really the canopy of our cultural voice, and especially in the ’60s, late ’60s and early ’70s, that — and our … Continue reading

December 31, 2010
by Dan
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Favourite New Books of 2010

Ducking in just under the wire, here is my list of favourite of new books of the year. It’s not meant to represent the “best” of 2010. Rather, it’s a completely unscientific, very subjective list of books (arranged in alphabetical … Continue reading

November 30, 2010
by Dan
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Patti Smith and Jonathan Lethem in Conversation

Artist Patti Smith, author of Just Kids, in conversation with Jonathan Lethem, author of Chronic City, earlier this year: (via MobyLives)

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