Reviews and News:
French singer Johnny Hallyday has died: “Although he was little known outside the French-speaking world, Mr. Hallyday sold more than 100 million records, acted in more than 30 films and appeared on the cover of the big-circulation magazine Paris Match dozens of times. His career endured so long that when he released an album in 2008 called ‘Ça Ne Finira Jamais’ (‘It Will Never End’), the title sounded like a simple statement of fact.”
J. D. Vance reviews Steven Stoll’s Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia: “Appalachia is among the most discussed and written-about geographies in the United States. Its beautiful scenery inspires nostalgia for the country’s unspoiled natural past. Its people, their attitudes and their politics were the subject of countless articles and essays in just the last year. Its persistently high rates of poverty have flummoxed honest observers and policy wonks, and confirmed the biases of thinkers across the political spectrum. Onto this saturated terrain steps Steven Stoll’s Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia, a historian’s look at where Appalachian deprivation comes from.”
The mysterious buyer of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi has been identified. He is the Saudi prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud.
Japan’s pop pioneer returns to his roots: “Outside Japan, Haruomi Hosono is not a household name. Last month’s release of ‘Vu Ja De’, his 21st solo album, was not met with much fanfare. But for those who know the 70-year-old’s work, his impact can be felt in everything from pop, electronic music and hip-hop to film soundtracks and department store muzak. At this late stage of his career, he is returning to his early influences. Japanese pop music may conjure up images of squeaky clean, auto-tuned groups embodying the kawaii ideal–cute, youthful and incongruously sexy. J-pop’s fusion of Western styles with Japanese tastes can trace its roots back to Mr Hosono’s band Happy End, which broke away from the Beatles clones popular in 1960s Japan by being the first rock band to sing in their native Japanese.”
An eclectic exhibit of Old Masters.
Lorin Stein, the editor of The Paris Review, resigned on Wednesday “amid an internal investigation into his behavior toward female employees and writers,” the New York Times reports.
Essay of the Day:
In the London Review of Books, Neal Ascherson remembers the beginning of democracy in the Soviet Union:
“There was a crowd round the iron stove at the end of the corridor. A dozen passengers pressed about the young uniformed conductress who normally gave out glasses of tea. But they were not there for the stove or the tea. Her radio was on, full blast, and they were listening to a voice.
“It was saying, loudly and confidently: ‘Kto za?’ (Who’s in favour?) Then it counted and read out a number. Then it asked: ‘Kto protiv?’ (Who’s against?) And again a number. And then: ‘The motion is passed’ or ‘The motion is rejected.’ The Congress of People’s Deputies, the new parliament of the Soviet Union, was in session and we were hearing its elected members voting freely, unpredictably, without fear. The voice – strong, lively – belonged to the man in the chair, Mikhail Gorbachev.
“I remember leaning back against the window, my heart suddenly too big for my chest. So it was real. So this democracy was actually taking place, at the core of the empire, and a whole planet – rusted to its axis for generations – was beginning to rotate again.
“Anything could happen now. But what actually happened was that the stove burst, flooding the corridor with boiling water and smoking cinders. As the attendant kneeled to dab at the floor with a towel, an older train-woman in a gaudier uniform stamped in and screamed abuse at her until she began to cry. One Russian tradition – keeping order by humiliation – was still in place here.
“Gorbachev grew up and was formed among those traditions, in their Soviet mutation. He came to detest them, the dialectic of bullying and toadying, the rule that an opponent must be left not just defeated but destroyed, abject and whining for forgiveness. He detested those habits, and yet they were the style, the instinct, of the party he never quite ceased to love, and sometimes he found himself using those habits himself. More often, he restrained himself, leaving enemies injured but not terminated. Those enemies, when they got over their astonishment, never forgave him for showing such ‘weakness’. Neither did his friends.”
Photos: California wildfires
Poem: J. P. Grasser, “Darn”
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This post originally appeared on Weekly Standard