About the Cover
Our cover design by Nanette Black features The Circus, Budapest, 1920, a photograph by André Kertész. Noël Bourcier, in the book Kertész (55s, Phaidon Press), explains that Kertész often photographed people who were in the act of looking, rather than focusing on what they were looking at. “The simplicity of the composition saves the image from being merely an amusing vignette, however, endowing it with value as a metaphor for the photographer’s abiding question: what is truly worth looking at?”
Throughout his life, Kertész quietly influenced the development of photojournalism and the art of photography, serving as a mentor to the likes of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa. In 1925, Kertész moved to Paris where his pioneering vision soon brought him great success, defining the shape of photojournalism in Europe. During the next eleven years, Kertész built an extraordinary body of work, influenced by and influencing the many artists with whom he interacted in Paris between the wars. Kertész moved to New York in 1936 and later worked at House & Garden magazine-his “lost years”-creating architectural photographs. In 1962, Kertész broke his magazine contract to pursue his art. For the next twenty-three years, he reestablished himself as a major figure in fine art photography. By the time of his death in 1985, Kertész’s work was honored by artists and photographers, collected by major museums and galleries, and studied by scholars
Photo and biographical information courtesy of Estate of André Kertész © 2006. Special thanks to the International Center of Photography for their assistance.
Ian McEwan, the British novelist, will receive this year’s Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement. The trustees of this magazine will honor Mr. McEwan at the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York on November 9, 2006. This strikes me as another wise and well-deserved tribute, following awards in earlier years to E. L. Doctorow, Joyce Carol Oates, Seamus Heaney, Umberto Eco, and Roger Angell. All of these authors have shared not merely the highest literary aspirations and achievement, but courage and commitment and service to the literary community.
I have long been an admirer of Ian McEwan’s fiction. In recent years he has achieved a broader popular acclaim with such novels as Atonement and Saturday. Yet his earlier works, Amsterdam, Black Dogs, Enduring Love, are stunning for the fierce, clean temper of their prose, their intellectual ambition—while avoiding pretense and posturing—and their fascination with the searing disruptions caused when the extraordinary or the unforeseeable penetrate everyday comforts and assumptions.
The literary community, mentioned above, is alive and vital today, I’m glad to say, embracing both writers and readers, the young and the not so young. It’s wonderfully exciting to witness that community become better articulated. No longer, for example, must writers strive in solitude first to master the craft and then to achieve recognition and a broader audience. Nor must readers, once they have left school or college, yearn vainly to share the pleasures of encountering a memorable book.
In this latter category, book clubs, public readings, even poetry slams and the like, are bringing readers together in ever more creative ways. A good friend of mine was just describing a new club he’s joined in which members select masterpieces of under 250 pages for discussion. (Apparently there is some flexibility in what constitutes a masterpiece as well as in that rather limited length.) But for busy people, I can see it makes wonderful sense. There are countless other ways of defining such groups.
Less well-known may be some of the efforts to create communities of writers too. Poets House in New York is one famous example, and it has just moved, I’m told, to marvelous new digs. Workshops large and small, formal and informal, serve a similar purpose of bringing aspiring writers together. Likewise, a number of new networks are being developed in support of writers. Some are local or regional, some stretch across the country, using the Internet to cut distance down to a keystroke.
Dan Wickett is an enterprising, energetic, and voracious reader and an advocate of writers. A few years ago he launched EWN, the Emerging Writers Network. Nothing is expected of its members, not even annual fees or dues. To those who ask, Dan sends out e-mail messages, which appear on no set schedule, but as time allows. (And where, I cannot help but wonder, does he find the time?) These newsletters offer reviews of books by younger or lesser-known writers. Sometimes Dan will interview an author as well, or a group of editors or agents. Or he’ll come up with a special offer, arranging for books to be signed and sent out as holiday gifts. Recently he also created a handsome Web site: www.emergingwriters.typepad.com. It offers additional services, including links to the Web sites of EWN authors. Writers benefit as do readers—but it’s a service to the larger literary community. To Dan and the others like him around the country, we are all grateful.
—David H. Lynn