Other books byLawrence Weschler
A MIRACLE, A UNIVERSE
In recent years as countries around the globe have begun to move from dictatorial to more democratic systems of governance, no more traumatic (or dramatic) ethical problem has arisen than what to do with the previous regime’s torturers. In most cases, the security and military apparatuses, responsible for the overwhelming majority of human-rights abuses, still retain tremendous power—and will not abide any settling of accounts. Now, New Yorker staff reporter Lawrence Weschler tells the extraordinary story of how, against tremendous odds, torture victims and human-rights activists in two Latin American countries—Brazil and Uruguay—tried to bring their torturers to justice and to rehabilitate their whole societies from harrowing periods of silence and repression. In this first of his two accounts, he tells how a tiny group of torture victims, clerics, and human-rights activists in Brazil launched an extremely risky, nonviolent plot to get even with the former torturers by publishing an indisputable account of their savage system of repression—indisputable because it is drawn from the regime’s own files. In the second, set in Uruguay, he tells how a more broadly-based movement attempted to bring to light the dark history of a military regime engaged in more political incarceration per capita than any other on earth at that time. In this illuminating and beautifully written book (portions of which appeared in five issues of The New Yorker), Weschler examines what a small number of individuals can do to retrieve history and truth from the hands of torturers.
Adventures in the Narrative
Shuttling between cultural comedies and political tragedies, Lawrence Weschler’s articles have intrigued readers throughout his long career. He examines everything, from the ordinary to the extraordinary, and his insights are illuminating. Uncanny Valley continues the page-turning conversation as Weschler collects the best of his narrative nonfiction from the past fifteen years. The title piece surveys the hapless efforts of digital animators to fashion a credible human face, the endlessly elusive gold standard of the profession. Other highlights include profiles of novelist Mark Salzman, as he wrestles with a hilariously harrowing bout of writer’s block; the legendary film and sound editor Walter Murch, as he is forced to revisit his work on Apocalypse Now in the context of the more recent Iraqi war film Jarhead; and the artist Vincent Desiderio, as he labors over an epic canvas portraying no less than a dozen sleeping figures. With his signature style and endless ability to wonder, Weschler proves yet again that the world is strange, beautiful, and connected” (The Globe and Mail). Uncanny Valley demonstrates his matchless ability to analyze the marvels he finds in places and people and offers us a new, sublime way of seeing the world.
Vermeer in Bosnia
From the master chronicler of the marvelous and the confounding–author of Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder–here is a much-anticipated new collection of more than twenty pieces from the past two decades, the majority of which have never before been gathered together in book form. Lawrence Weschler is not simply a superb reporter, essayist, and cultural observer; he is also an uncanny collector and connector of wonders. In Vermeer in Bosnia, whether he is reporting on the aftermath of the Yugoslav wars (and noticing, for example, how centuries earlier Vermeer had had to invent the peace and serenity we so prize in his work today from a youth during which all of Europe had been as ravaged as Bosnia) or dissecting the special quality of light in his beloved hometown of Los Angeles, Weschler’s perceptions are often startling, his insights both fresh and profound. Included here is Weschler’s remarkable profile of Roman Polanski–written years before the release of The Pianist, yet all but predicting the director’s confrontation with the Holocaust in that film–alongside an equally celebrated portrait of Ed Weinberger, a young designer crushed and yet hardly bowed by an extreme form of Parkinson’s disease. Here is Weschler limning his own experience as the grandson of an eminent Weimar-era composer, and then as the befuddled father of an eminently fetching daughter. Here is Weschler on Art Spiegelman, David Hockney, Ed Kienholz, and Wislawa Szymborska. Here, in short, are some of the most dazzling pieces from Lawrence Weschler’s own brimming cabinet of marvels.
Known for her life-size sculptures made entirely of beads, Liza Lou has had audiences and critics spellbound since her debut exhibition fifteen years ago. Liza Lou’s sculptures, room-size installations, and performances have been at the center of the art world’s bewilderment and awe since the unveiling of her first masterpiece, Kitchen, in 1996. A true-to-size replica of a kitchen in the midst of a museum gallery would hardly cause a stir, were it not for one important fact: the work is made entirely of beads. Eschewing the well-traveled path in art school to embrace the traditional mediums of painting or sculpture, Lou embarked on forging a body of work unlike any that had been seen before in the art world. In the nearly fifteen years since her auspicious debut, Lou’s work has developed from realistic room-size tableaux taken from everyday life—such as Backyard and Trailer, among others—to works no less monumental in construction and more sober in their themes, such as Security Fence and Cell. In this comprehensive volume devoted to her work, illustrated with two hundred photographs, writers, critics, and scholars explore her work in depth.