In this week’s New Yorker, Margaret Talbot continues her critical assessments of prickly geniuses who create art for children. In January, she profiled master animator Hayao Miyazaki–the piece isn’t available online, but an interview about the piece is here–and now she examines nimbly the life and work of Roald Dahl. Perhaps because she’s got young children of her own, but more likely because she’s an astute, sensitive writer, Talbot balances the sweetness of the work of “children’s” artists against the often irascible, thorny personalities of those who create these works. Or, rather, she discovers the undercurrents of anxiety, acerbity, and regret beneath these cheery books and movies. (I wish she’d been alive to profile Walt Disney.) Now, if she would get around to profiling Daniel Pinkwater, I’d be a happy man.
At PopMatters, Mark Anthony Neal–who’s always worth reading–has been documenting the long, sad decline of R&B. The site just posted part 3, but you should read parts one and two first. For anyone sobered by the recent death of Luther Vandross, these essays are essential reading. Speaking of which, the Village Voice–of all places!–features a good appreciation of the singer here.
Finally, over at Tingle Alley, Carrie Frye buys a typewriter. Hijinks ensue. It’s a lovely piece.