Beauty

Issue #50, Winter, 2011

Francis Bacon put it best: "There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion." Novelist and critic Marilynn Robinson brilliantly essays the notion of beauty and its role in our changing society. Poet Crystal Williams views the subject through the kaleidoscopic lens of race, while Aimee Bender talks with the artist Amy Cutler, whose off-kilter, imaginative work boils in the same cauldron as Bender's fictions. The poets, naturally, are well-represented here, happily joining the ancient poetic cause. And just as unsurprisingly, the prose writers turn the notions of beauty inside-out. Maggie Shipstead chronicles a former child star's fall from drug-addled "It Girl." Michel Houellebecq sinks his teeth into the art world. And Eric Puchner spins a youth-only future. We are also delighted by beautiful math, Mumbai bar dancers, the science of sex, and even the letters of Burt Reynolds. We hope you find the issue as beautiful as strange and beautiful as we do.

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Michel Houellebecq

AN EXCERPT FROM The Map and the Territory, TRANSLATED BY GAVIN BOWD • Since his last painting,Damien Hirst and jeff Koons Dividing Up the Art Market, he no longer felt much about art.

Maggie Shipstead

YOU HAVE A FRIEND IN 10A • Jerome Shin took me up to my bathroom, cut me my first line, and asked me to hold his balls while he jacked off.

Paul Willems

HE HORSE'S EYE, TRANSLATED BY EDWARD GAUVIN • He was a Soviet named Sergei who spoke French, and played, as befit him, chess

Eric Puchner

BEAUTIFUL MONSTERS • The boy has never seen a grown man in real life, and the sight is both more and less frightening than he expected.

Quintan Ana Wikswo

THE LITTLE KRETSCHMAR • He and she liked to have sex on a Saturday, after a nice sauna.

Kevin Young

MERCY
ANNIVERSARY
SOLACE

Roger Reeves

SOUTHERN CHARM

Michael Klein

REAL MEN

Gary Jackson

THE LAST DAYS OF AN AMERICAN HERO
PIT STOP

Heather Christle

TO KEW BY TRAM
ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL

Zubair Ahmed

i>NEW VOICE
CATACOMBS
REACHING HALF-LIFE IN MY BACKYARD
BONFIRE AT 3 AM

Amy Cutler

The artist communed with her creative doppelgänger, Aimee Bender, to talk fairy tales, the demands of devoting yourself to a meticulous craft, and the portrayal of women.

Marilynne Robinson

ON BEAUTY • The novelist and critic tackles the topic that has plagued philosophers since the beginning of Western thought.

Crystal Williams

MIRROR, MIRROR: A GUIDE TO PATHOS • Difficulty abounds in trying to navigate our culture's notions of beauty and race.

Sonia Faleiro

LEELA, THE MUMBAI BAR DANCER • The ins and outs of India's ladies of the night.

Michael Harris

UNEXPECTED, ECONOMICAL, INEVITABLE • The rarified heirs of pure mathematics investigate its exacting beauty.

Sam Stephenson

SONNY CLARK: MELODY AND MELANCHOLY • Jazz and drugs formed a double helix that forever changed music, and also led to a downfall.

Sonya Chung

IN THE LIGHT WHERE ART AND LONGING MEET • A visit with James Salter confirms the gentle, if radical, masculinity that one finds in his life's work.

Peyton Marshall

THE FEAST • The cruel, harsh reality of summer camp sends a bunkmate overboard.

A.N. Devers

THE TERRIBLE BEAUTY OF TOR HOUSE • A visit to Robinson Jeffers's tumbling tower.

Albert Mobilio

ON HAVELOCK ELLIS'S Studies in the Psychology of SexThe pioneer of sexual studies explored Victorian 'operating' habits.

Susan Shapiro

ON GAIL PARENT's Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New YorkWit and wisdom from one of the earliest chick-litters.

Michelle Wildgen

ON BURT REYNOLDS'S Hot Line: The Letters I Get...and Write!Burt becomes the furry, grinning screen on which to project a thousand fantasies.

Curtis White

ON READING DAVE HICKEY: My Life in the Therapeutic Institution • Let the rich wickedness of art reign.

Suzanne Lenzer

TOO PRETTY TO EAT • The fickle fashions of food styling.