Barry Schwabsky on Kristin Ross’s May ’68 and Its Afterlives at Hyperallergic: Okay, but when she dismisses a detractor’s charge that “nothing happened in France in ’68. Institutions didn’t change, the university didn’t change, conditions for workers didn’t change — nothing happened,” I have to wonder. Yes, something happened in the moment, with echoes that went on resonating for a few more years — but really, what long-term upshot did it have? That it’s hard to point to one is sobering, and to brush that aside seems to me too much like turning an uprising into (an unfortunate understanding of) a work of art: useless, complete in and of itself, to be admired, wondered at, and taken as exemplary. From May ’68 to the Arab Spring and Occupy, these beautiful apparitions, so easily quashed, can seem in retrospect a great argument for Leninism, and I can’t help sympathizing with, of all people, the embittered Maoist veteran of May, quoted by Ross, who came away from it with the lesson: “Never seize speech without seizing power.” Except that anyone who thinks they know how to do that is probably deluded. To read the Hyperallergic piece in full, click here. To read more about May ’68 and . . .
Just in time for this week’s opening days of the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, we’re thrilled to publish Roger Ebert’s Two Weeks in the Midday Sun: A Cannes Notebook, with a new foreword by Martin Scorsese and a new postscript. You can read more about the book below, and for the next month, download a free e-book version of Ebert’s Bests, which combines a selection of Ebert’s beloved “10 Bests” lists with the story of how he became a film critic. *** A paragon of cinema criticism for decades, Roger Ebert—with his humor, sagacity, and no-nonsense thumb—achieved a renown unlikely ever to be equaled. His tireless commentary has been greatly missed since his death, but, thankfully, in addition to his mountains of daily reviews, Ebert also left behind a legacy of lyrical long-form writing. And with Two Weeks in the Midday Sun, we get a glimpse not only into Ebert the man, but also behind the scenes of one of the most glamorous and peculiar of cinematic rituals: the Cannes Film Festival. More about people than movies, this book is an intimate, quirky, and witty account of the parade of personalities attending the 1987 festival—Ebert’s twelfth, and the fortieth anniversary of the . . .
“Diamond Dave and the Porcupine Hollow” An excerpt from the Prologue to America’s Snake by Ted Levin *** Why would Alcott Smith, at the time nearly seventy, affable and supposedly of sound mind, a blue-eyed veterinarian with a whittled-down woodman’s frame and lupine stamina, abruptly change his plans (and clothes) for a quiet Memorial Day dinner with his companion, Lou-Anne, and drive from his home in New Hampshire to New York State, north along the western rim of a wild lake, to a cabin on a corrugated dirt lane called Porcupine Hollow? Inside the cabin fifteen men quaffed beer, while outside a twenty-five-inch rattlesnake with a mouth full of porcupine quills idled in a homemade rabbit hutch. It was the snake that had interrupted Smith’s holiday dinner. Because of a cascade of consequences there aren’t many left in the Northeast: timber rattlesnakes are classified as a threatened species in New York and an endangered species everywhere in New England except Maine and Rhode Island where they’re already extinct. They could be gone from New Hampshire before the next presidential primary. Among the cognoscenti it’s speculated whether timber rattlesnakes ever lived in Quebec; they definitely did in Ontario, where rattlesnakes inhabited the sedimentary . . .
Our free e-book for March is Ebert’s Best by Roger Ebert. Download your copy here. *** Roger Ebert is a name synonymous with the movies. In Ebert’s Bests, he takes readers through the journey of how he became a film critic, from his days at a student-run cinema club to his rise as a television commentator in At the Movies and Siskel & Ebert. Recounting the influence of the French New Wave, his friendships with Werner Herzog and Martin Scorsese, as well as travels to Sweden and Rome to visit Ingrid Bergman and Federico Fellini, Ebert never loses sight of film as a key component of our cultural identity. In considering the ethics of film criticism—why we should take all film seriously, without prejudgment or condescension—he argues that film critics ought always to engage in open-minded dialogue with a movie. Extending this to his accompanying selection of “10 Bests,” he reminds us that hearts and minds—and even rankings—are bound to change. *** To read more about books by Roger Ebert published by the University of Chicago Press, click here. . . .
Our 2016 Fall Books catalog has arrived—at 427+ pages, it’s our biggest yet. Click here to download a PDF and read up on its 759 titles, or visit Edelweiss for up-to-the minute, detailed bibliographic information for each book. Phew! . . .