• October 29, 2013

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    A year ago this week, after tearing through the Caribbean and up the Eastern Seaboard, Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, and worked its way on to New York City and beyond. The storm flooded subways, destroyed homes, knocked out power grids, left at least ninety people dead in New York and New Jersey, and became one of the costliest natural disasters in American history (second only to Katrina). In New York, the storm did extensive damage to the sleepy residential communities of the Rockaways, a thin peninsula that runs along the south shore of Long Island Sound. In a matter of days, thousands of  homes were demolished. Residents were displaced, and some have yet to return.

    Visiting the Rockaways a day after the storm, Magnum photographer Gilles Peress wrote, “The devastation is on such a scale… that I really have a feeling of having entered another dimension.” This surreal dimension is chronicled in The Rockaways, a new book that includes Peress’s photos alongside essays about Sandy’s impact by local journalists and high school students. Published by the Concord Free Press, the book is indeed free—three thousand copies will be given to bookstores, museums, and readers—though recipients are asked to donate to a Sandy relief foundation. The press will start taking requests for the book on October 30. Until then, here’s a selection of Peress’s photos, all taken in Breezy Point, Queens.

  • Goodnight, Goodnight, Moon? Per the New York Times, some contemporary toddlers have highbrow (and expensive) sensibilities that go beyond mere children’s classics. “Today’s babies and toddlers are treated to board books that are miniature works of literary art: classics like Romeo and Juliet, Sense and Sensibility and Les Misérables; luxuriously produced counting primers with complex graphic elements; and even an Art for Baby book featuring images by the contemporary artists Damien Hirst and Paul Morrison.”

    Lou Reed

    Lou Reed

    David Bowie and Morrissey comment on the passing of rock star and icon Lou Reed, who died on Sunday at the age of 71. Here’s an obituary of Reed, and a conversation he had in July with The Talkhouse about the music and vision of Kanye West.

    Australian feminist and The Female Eunuch author Germaine Greer has donated her lifetime archive to the University of Melbourne. The archive, which spans more than fifty years and 150 filing cabinets, includes diaries, letters, and correspondence between Greer and other major intellectuals of the past several decades. Greer has said she will donate the proceeds to organizations dedicated to rehabilitating the Australian rainforest.

    Congratulations to Dissent magazine for sixty years of fine work. The New York Times has an article about the lefty stalwart—and the rejuvenating influence of younger editors Sarah Leonard and Nick Serpe—in the weekend arts section. Read Leonard’s essay on Occupy Wall Street from the Dec/Jan 2012 issue of Bookforum.

    Thanks to a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, within three years Boston may be home to “what’s believed to be the nation’s first literary cultural district.”

    As more English-language books are being brought into the Chinese market, many authors are faced with a conundrum: Submit to censorship (often perpetrated by editors at Chinese publishing houses), or forego access to the booming marketplace?