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English Muse: October 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Meal Reading

Happy Monday!

Samantha Bee, comedian and correspondent for the "Daily Show," divulged in a New York Times Magazine article on Sunday that one of her life's joys is "Meal Reading." "I like to read cookbooks while I eat and fantasize about other meals," she told reporter Edward Lewine. "I am a cookbook fanatic."

And eating? She added: "I go to sleep at night thinking about what will be my breakfast. It is just a really big part of my day."

I love reading with breakfast too. I usually read the morning papers and magazines. But I'll read anything, even the backs of cereal boxes.

In celebration of this simple pleasure, I pulled together a small selection of photos taken by Jennifer Causey for her crisply elegant blog,
Simply Breakfast:

Have a lovely day. See you back here later this afternoon!

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Weekend & Links


Happy weekend, everyone! I hope you're liking the new focus on books and media here at the English Muse!

Here's a little roundup of some of my favorite links this week:

Margaret Atwood creates superhero outfits for Twitter avatars.

The ultimate reading divan.

Lady Chatterley's Legacy.

Will you buy an E-Reader this holiday season?
(The answer receiving the most votes might surprise you!)

What political attack ads would have looked like if Thomas Jefferson had final cut.
(US darlings, don't forget to vote Tuesday!)

The London Underground: The Pleasure Seekers

Amanda Hesser's trio of favorite books.


Two wonderful new works by Michael Cunningham and Ian Frazier.


PS: How could I forget? Happy Halloween.

(Photo above from a Banana Republic ad.)

A Look Inside Cecil Beaton's Scrapbooks

Yes, the legendary photographer kept scrapbooks, like the rest of us...
Cecil Beaton ScrapBook 1
Cecil Beaton ScrapBook 4
Cecil Beaton ScrapBook 2
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Cecil Beaton ScrapBook 3
Only Beaton's multiple scrapbooks are packed with snapshots and magazine clippings of society figures, royals, dancers, actors and statesmen taken during his long career as a photographer for publications like Vogue and Vanity Fair.

Assouline on Nov. 22 is coming out with a 400-page coffee table book -- called Beaton, the Art of the Scrapbook -- that replicates some of the pages.

The blurb: "Composed of his own prints and clippings from magazines, newspapers, and playbills, the pages are an instructive record of his creative process....To flip through the pages is to enter a fabulous and surreal party where Tallulah Bankhead rubs shoulders with a bust of Voltaire and a portrait of Stravinsky; where Beaton's first trip on the Queen Mary coincides with Queen Elizabeth's coronation. Beaton's scrapbooks allowed the artist to play with pictures he had taken (and perhaps those he wished he had) in the dreamspace of artifice that was always his favorite setting."

Something to add to the Xmas list!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Anatomy of Style: Vintage

I positively devoured this Guardian story by the paper's weekend Space editor, Hannah Booth. In this piece, Miss Booth pokes through the home of vintage maven Jo Kornstein, owner of the posh London boutique,
Howie & Belle.

Have a look:


Turquoise paint and vintage satin pillows. Outstanding!


Girl x 45 Million

Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy has become" the publishing phenomenon of the young century, with international sales exceeding 45 million," according to a very cool story in today's Los Angeles Times by my former colleague Scott Timberg.

He writes that Larsson's books have managed, in the 25 months since the first novel's U.S. publication, to go through almost 200 printings here. And next month, publisher Knopf will release its Millennium Trilogy Deluxe Boxed Set: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

Sara Nelson, books director of O: The Oprah Magazine, told Timberg that the heroine's ambiguity is part of her appeal. "She's not terribly well defined," Nelson says, pointing to her complicated sexuality. "Is she lovable? Yes, but she's not necessarily likable. Lisbeth is a hybrid, but the books are hybrids too — a chronicle of the media business, a comment on society.... It's not a standard police procedural."

UPDATE: Here's the link to the NYT's review of the Hornet's Nest movie.

(Illustration by Helena Lloyd.)


If you happen to be in London...

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The Royal College of Arts is preparing to hold its "secret" postcard sale on Nov. 20. This is how it works: Every year 1,000 artists, designers, illustrators -- some of them would renowned -- donate their works for a one-day only sale.

The postcards are signed on the back, so the author's identity remains a secret until the cards are purchased. Last year, Tracey Emin, Gerhard Richter, Bill Viola, Julian Opie and Grayson Perry, well as fashion designers Sir Paul Smith, Manolo Blahnik and Erdem participated in the event, which raises funds for the arts college. (There's a flat rate per postcard: £45, and only four cards per person.)

There will be several special viewings of the cards, starting on Nov. 12, at the RCA campus in London -- but you have to register online first.

Do you have running shoes and a good eye? Give it a try. (And let me know how it goes!!)

Twig Hutchinson Captures the Castle

Twig Hutchinson, star stylist of the Toast catalogues, cleverly updated her online portfolio to look like an actual book, complete with a quote from Dodie Smith's "I Capture the Castle."

"I write this sitting in the kitchen sink..."
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Complete fluff...

Polaroid Sky

I was very excited to discover today that the Barnes & Noble Review has a special section for books on clouds.

This is how they describe "The Invention of Clouds," by Richard Hamblyn:

"A fascinating study of the amateur meteorologist who, in the early 19th century, 'forged the language of the skies.' Creating the classifications -- cirrus, stratus, cumulus, nimbus -- which are now familiar, Luke Howard captured the imagination of contemporary artists and scientists, as well as generations of their heirs."

It also reminds me that I need to get out more with my Polaroid camera. (I took this photo, above, last year.)


Book Covers, Re-imagined...

I love it when independent artists decide to create their own book covers...the results are always unexpected. Take these for example:

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They were created by two Portuguese women -- Sandra G. and Orquidea C. -- now living in Amsterdam. They used their own photography and wit....As a result, their sensibility is so wonderfully European. It's hard for me to pick a favorite. Maybe The Hours? What do you think?

(More on their blog, re-cover project.)

Oh, and I almost forgot, today is Dylan Thomas' birthday...(thank you Giulia!)


"Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Taschen's Audrey Hepburn

The luxury books publisher released a glossy volume of Audrey photos last month...

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The photos were taken by Paramount Studio stills photographer Bob Willoughby between 1953-1966. Taschen put the volume on sale Sept. 11, as part of an exhibit of the photos at its gallery in Brussels, Belgium.

At $700 each, the books sold out almost instantly.

If there's a second printing, this tops my Xmas list!

(Luckly you can see the entire book online here.)


Escape Reading

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Hello everyone. I finished two freelance pieces and now I'm rewarding myself with an afternoon escape -- reading about Paris. My latest book about my favorite city is called "The Secret Life of the Seine" by Mort Rosenblum, former Editor in Chief of the International Herald Tribune. Rosenblum lived for a time on a 54-foot boat made of Burmese teak and brass, tied up alongside the barges near the Pont Alexandre II in the center of Paris.

This is what I call escape reading. Without it, life would be so dreary.

What's your favorite escape book?

(Photo by Miu37)


Monday, October 25, 2010

More Monroe...

Vanity Fair Magazine hired a handwriting expert
to analyze the actress' diaries....
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The results might surprise you!


Paris Review: Author Interviews

The Paris Review has long been known for its wonderful writer profiles. Now, thanks to the Internet, you can access all the pieces online. I've compiled a little selection below:

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Isak Dinesen..........Truman Capote..........Arthur Miller
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Graham Greene..........Dorothy Parker..........Ernest Hemingway
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Jorge Luis Borges..........William Faulkner..........Evelyn Waugh

The author illustrations, by the way, were done by Spanish artist Fernando Vicente Retratos. More of his work here.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Amis and Fonseca

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One of my favorite stories from the weekend papers: A Wall Street Journal Magazine profile of novelists Martin Amis and Isabel Fonseca. The two discuss the pleasures of reading, writing and their marriage.

"Being married to one of Britain's most celebrated authors could be a disappearing act for some women," writes author Ariel Leve. "But the American Fonseca, 49, is an impressive writer herself. Amis, 61, married both a muse and an equal, and they are mutually supportive...."

I love this quote from Amis on Fonseca: "I rely tremendously on her beauty. She looks very nice when she's asleep and she wakes with a smile. It's an extraordinary thing. It's very unfair, as all things to do with beauty are, but it's a fact. I rely on it for joie de vivre. It's proof of her equilibrium as well. Your happiness determines your demeanor in the world."

See the full story here.

And a list of Amis' books and Fonseca's.

(Photo above by Simon Upton for the WSJ.)

Happy Monday everyone!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Keep Calm and Craft On

Hello everyone! I'm so sorry my posting has been so light. But, I have very good news: I've been asked to participate in Unique LA's H.D. Buttercup boutique and I'm working like mad on my jewelry designs through my little firm, Crown and Badge Salvage Co. I'm so excited to be involved with Unique LA -- a group that runs one of Los Angeles' largest and most prestigious craft and art shows. And it's doubly sweet because H.D. Buttercup is sort of like the west coast version of ABC Carpet in NYC. I've been making jewelry for a long time, but this is the first time I've seriously set out to design a line. So this is heaven for me.

If you're in Los Angeles, there will be a reception for the new boutique from 6 to 8 pm on Friday at H.D. Buttercup.

Meanwhile, will see you back here soon. xoxo


(Illustration, above, from the Keep Calm store on etsy.)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Toast: House and Home, Autumn/Winter 2010

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I LOVE the Toast catalogues, maybe even more than the ones from Anthropologie.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Impossible Cool of Patti Smith

It's awards season for the books industry, and today the National Book Foundation announced its twenty finalists for the National Book Awards. Among those included in the non-fiction category is Patti Smith's autobiography "Just Kids," covering her years as muse to photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.

Reviewer Tom Nissley sums up "Just Kids" so beautifully:

"Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe weren't always famous, but they always thought they would be. They found each other, adrift but determined, on the streets of New York City in the late '60s and made a pact to keep each other afloat until they found their voices--or the world was ready to hear them.

"Mapplethorpe was quicker to find his metier, with a Polaroid and then a Hasselblad, but Smith was the first to fame, transformed, to her friend's delight, from a poet into a rock star. "

What is it about Patti Smith that makes her so compelling, like a young Mick Jagger?

(The National Book Award winners will be announced on Nov 17 in NYC.)

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Secret Writings of Marilyn Monroe


Hello all!

Here's new book of note: Farrar, Straus and Giroux today released Fragments, a collection of  “poems, intimate notes, and letters” by Marilyn Monroe. The glossy tome is packed with pictures and references to the many books in Monroe’s life. (She loved to read and was often spotted with a book during breaks on film sets.)

Here's a snippet from the publisher: "These bits of text—jotted in notebooks, typed on paper, or written on hotel letterhead—reveal a woman who loved deeply and strove to perfect her craft. They show a Marilyn Monroe unsparing in her analysis of her own life, but also playful, funny, and impossibly charming. The easy grace and deceptive lightness that made her performances so memorable emerge on the page, as does the simmering tragedy that made her last appearances so heartbreaking."

PS: Howard Jacobson won the Booker Prize for the Finkler Question!


Monday, October 11, 2010

Weekend media bits....


Happy Monday everyone...Here are a few little newspaper gems that caught my eye this weekend:

Rosie Blau, the books editor of the Financial Times, wrote about what it was like to be a Booker Prize judge with a new baby.

"Reading 138 books over the head of a suckling child felt, at times, like the worst possible way to enjoy or judge literature," Blau wrote. "I can’t imagine ever not wanting to read a novel but I did occasionally suffer mediocrity overload....

"From the deepening hollow of my sofa, my reading took me cottaging in a Cambridgeshire toilet, into the home of an Indian untouchable, along the path of the down and seriously out."

She adds: "That we can tell and experience the same stories in an infinite number of ways is, for me, the glory of fiction. The uniqueness of life is repeated – again and again."

The only thing I remember reading with my newborn daughter was Goodnight Moon. The fact that Blau read 138 novels is, well, amazing. The Booker Prize will be announced tomorrow...can't wait to see who wins! (Here's the short list.)


Next up, Jack Spade (husband of Kate.)

The Wall Street Journal caught up with Spade in its
20 Odd Questions column.

He reveals all sorts of interesting facts about himself. For example: "The neatest stores I've been to recently are Dave Eggers's Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. and his 826 Valencia Pirates Supply Shop in San Francisco. He sells things like invisible paint. In Brooklyn, you have to swear in, and say you're a superhero and will abide by the rules. In San Francisco, there's a big pirates' chest that my daughter loves. If you find a gem, you can redeem it for a gift, but you also have to sing or dance."


Next, Rachel Donadio spends 36 hours in Rome for the NYT:

Donadio's most offbeat stop: A cemetery.

"Like Père Lachaise in Paris, the Protestant Cemetery (Via Caio Cestio, 6; 39-06-574-1900; is one of Rome’s most meditative and overlooked spots," she writes. "The final resting spot of non-Catholics for centuries, the cemetery counts John Keats among its permanent residents — his tomb reads 'Here lies one whose name was writ in water.' Besides romantics, there’s often a steady stream of graying lefties, who pay tribute to Antonio Gramsci, the founder of the Italian Communist Party."

A name writ in water.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Print Is Not Dead: Anthology Magazine

Hello everyone.

I'm crazy about this new decor magazine called Anthology. It was created by Anh-Minh Le, a regular contributor to The San Francisco Chronicle Datebook and Home & Garden sections, and by Meg Mateo Ilasco, who has authored six books, including Craft, Inc. and Crafting a Meaningful Home. The duo have adopted the motto "Print is not dead," music to my ears! Anthology is printed quarterly, but you can also get a sneak peek online.

Have a look:

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The enterprising editors have also done this fantastic video:

Print Is Not Dead from Anthology Magazine on Vimeo.


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