What We're Reading: Fall 2017
Eileen Willis and Amanda MacBlane September 14, 2017
What We're Reading: Fall 2017
Fall is coming, which means it's time to compile a list of literary picks for cooler weather, longer nights, and a great new season of performing arts. Here's what we'll be checking out (most likely from our friends at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts) to get in the mood for several upcoming programs at Lincoln Center.
Cynthia Gregory Dances Swan Lake
By Cynthia Gregory and Martha Swope (illustrator)
A day in the life of a ballerina preparing for her evening performance of Swan Lake—from what she eats for breakfast to how she laces up her pointe shoes. Our own Associate Editor Kaitlyn Zafonte writes: "I might have read this book over a hundred times when I was a kid, so I'm a little biased in how good I think this is."
Related performances: Swan Lake (September 19–October 1)
The Best Tales of Hoffmann
By E.T.A. Hoffmann
Edited with an introduction by E.F. Bleiler
Treat yourself to the dark, fantastical tales of German Romantic writer E.T.A. Hoffmann. This shimmering translation features 10 of his most famous stories, including "The Sandman," "The Cremona Violin," and "A New Year's Eve Adventure," which inspired Offenbach's opera Les Contes d’Hoffmann, and "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King," transformed into dance by Tchaikovsky.
Agnès Varda: Interviews
Edited by T. Jefferson Kline
Get to know Agnès Varda, acclaimed filmmaker and one of the architects of the French New Wave, whose latest work will be screened as part of the 55th New York Film Festival (September 28–October 15), through this collection of interviews that have taken place over the past 60 years.
Related screenings: Faces Places (October 1 and 2)
Laurie Anderson: All the Things That I Lost in the Flood
By Laurie Anderson
This is the first comprehensive volume of the work to date of visual artist, composer, poet, photographer, filmmaker, electronics whiz, vocalist, and instrumentalist Laurie Anderson. She'll be joining The New York Library for the Performing Arts for an in-person conversation about her life, work, and perspective through the music that is meaningful to her.
Related event: Laurie Anderson's Listen List (October 16)
Conversations with Meredith Monk
By Bonnie Marranca
This book offers an up-close look at the internationally renowned composer, performer, director, and filmmaker who has helped to create the new vocabularies of contemporary performance. Reflecting on her creative life in music, performance, and film over her entire career, Monk offers fascinating insights into how she works, the questions she asks herself as an artist, and the deeply held personal views of art practice as spiritual practice.
Related performance: Dancing Voices (October 20 and 21)
Poetry in Motion: 100 Poems from the Subways and Buses
Edited by Elise Paschen
Those of us who rely on the MTA for our daily commutes understand the importance of a well-placed work of art along the way. Poetry in Motion features a range of poetry, from Sappho to W. H. Auden to ninth-century Chinese poet Chu Chen Po.
Related event: Poetry Society of American Celebrates 25 Years of Poetry in Motion (October 25)
The Infinite Variety of Music
By Leonard Bernstein
Explore the joys and subtleties of music through the lens of one of the world's best-loved composers.
Young People's Concerts
By Leonard Bernstein; Edited by Jack Gottlieb, with a foreword by Michael Tilson Thomas
The full texts of 15 of Bernstein's lectures demonstrate his unique ability to explain the joy of music in a way that's accessible to everyone.
How are operas written? This compilation of primary sources recreates the origins of 15 operatic milestones, from Monteverdi to Berg.
Related performances: Monteverdi: The Birth of Opera (October 18, 19, 21)
First Love Stories: From Isis and Osiris to Tristan and Iseult
By Diane Wolkstein
Get in the mood for Mark Morris's adaptation of the story of Layla and Majnun, star-crossed lovers from Persian and Arabian folklore, with this collection of seven love stories from around the world. Author Diane Wolkstein was New York City's official storyteller (why is this no longer a thing?) from 1968 to 1971. As GoodReads reviewer Ria F. writes: "It's good to know that lust and premarital relations were going on for thousands of years, not just today."
Related performance: Layla and Majnun (October 26–29)
Three Novels: Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnameable
By Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett's famous mid-century trilogy of novels is often held up as the apex of literary Modernism. Existentially unnerving and packed with “cackling blasphemies” (New Yorker), the three novels will be transformed into riveting theater by the preeminent Irish Beckett interpreters of Gare St. Lazare as part of the White Light Festival. Hold onto the texts after, for when you want to find your favorite bits.
Related Event: The Beckett Trilogy (November 3–5)
By Yaa Gyasi
Yaa Gyasi's debut novel follows the fates of two sisters, Effia and Esi—one sold into slavery, the other married off to a slave trader—and their descendants. Spanning seven generations, the book traces the persistent and twisted legacy of an inhuman practice, while also revealing the extremely human urge to survive.
Related performance: Jordi Savall: The Routes of Slavery (November 15)
Eileen Willis is Editorial Director and Amanda MacBlane is Senior Writer/Editor at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.