The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

February 7, 2017
by Dan
0 comments

Chris Ware on George Herriman and Krazy Kat

The New York Review of Books has an essay by cartoonist Chris Ware on George Herriman the creator Krazy Kat, one of the most beautiful, poetic and inventive comic strips ever created:     Krazy Kat has been described as a parable of love, … Continue reading

July 31, 2015
by Dan
0 comments

A Secret History of Manhattan’s Book Trade

Don’t miss Dwight Garner’s New York Times review of Martial Bliss.: The Story of the Military Bookman, Margaretta Barton Colt’s account of running an antiquarian bookstore in Manhattan that sold only military titles. If you ever worked in an independent bookstore, you’ll probably relate… Historians … Continue reading

June 19, 2015
by Dan
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Simenon’s Island of Bad Dreams

At the NYRB Blog, John Banville reviews Georges Simenon’s novel The Mahé Circle, translated into English for the first time and now available from Penguin Classics: Simenon was a driven creature, who in his lifetime wrote more than four hundred books, drank and … Continue reading

March 28, 2014
by Dan
0 comments

Hold or fold

At the TLS, Leah Price reviews On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History by Nicholas A. Basbanes: You may be reading this across a fold of paper, or you may be squinting at an electronic screen. Two centuries ago, … Continue reading

March 2, 2014
by Dan
0 comments

Fred the Clown: Book Review

By Roger Langridge. I’ve read reviews like this (except the bit about liking books usually comes at the beginning).

February 3, 2014
by Dan
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The Chelsea Hotel: Dream Palace or Trauma Ward?

Peter Conrad reviews Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New York’s Legendary Chelsea Hotel by Sherill Tippins for The Observer: In the seething, druggy summer of 1969, a room in the Chelsea hotel gave me my first … Continue reading

January 20, 2014
by Dan
1 Comment

Tove Jansson and the Postwar World

James Lovegrove reviews Tove Jansson, Life, Art, Words by Boel Westin, the first authorised biography of artist and writer, and Jansson’s own childhood memoir, Sculptor’s Daughter, first published in 1968 and now available in English for the first time, for The Financial … Continue reading

September 18, 2013
by Dan
0 comments

Holy Sh*t, Batman

Colin Burrows reviews Holy Shit: A Brief History of Swearing by Melissa Mohr for the London Review of Books: Really good swearing relies on formulaic elements, but needs to be precisely adapted to the moment. In this respect dear old Robin … Continue reading

December 5, 2012
by Dan
0 comments

Midweek Miscellany

It’s Complicated — Gabriel Winslow-Yost surveys the work of Chris Ware for the New York Review of Books: Ware’s drawings are meticulous, even chilly, with flat, muted colors and the straight lines and perfect curves of an architectural rendering. The panels … Continue reading

December 23, 2010
by Dan
2 Comments

A Year in Reading 2010

2010 was a year of losing battles and one of the first casualties was time for personal reading. The moments I did have were snatched on the subway and, if I could keep my eyes open, last thing at night. … Continue reading

June 18, 2010
by Dan
7 Comments

Father’s Day: Men and Reading

Thriller writer Jason Pinter recently rattled some publishing china by suggesting that a stubborn belief that Men Don’t Read is alienating male readers: I’m tired of people saying Men Don’t Read. Men LOVE to read… But the more publishing repeats … Continue reading

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