Books | A Continuous Lean. - Page 2

Man of the Hour: The Michael Hainey Interview

Feb 20th, 2013 | Categories: Books, David Coggins | by David Coggins

After Visiting Friends by Michael Hainey

You may know Michael Hainey from GQ, where he’s the deputy editor, a writer and resident wise man. He’s an elegant and reassuring presence in a menswear world that can breed exhaustion. You may also see Mr. Hainey on television, walking in the West Village or on your favorite street style site. He carries himself with a sense of courtliness that makes him seem approachable, which is very much the case. Prepare to get to know him much better—his new book, the memoir “After Visiting Friends”— is deeply personal and incredibly moving. It’s also a brilliantly reported, completely absorbing mystery about the death of his father, which happened when Michael was a boy. It’s a genuine accomplishment by one of New York’s dapper men of letters.

We spoke recently at the Spotted Pig.

David Coggins: The title of your book is “After Visiting Friends.” Can you explain what it means? It’s a good introduction to what the book’s about.

Michael Hainey: It’s the reason the mystery begins. You could say it’s a euphemism, but really it’s a line inside of a couple of the obituaries that ran after my father died. One said he died after visiting a “friend” and the other said “friends.” It gave an address in Chicago, so as a young guy I said “who are these friends?” So it’s the engine of the mystery.





Hero’s Welcome: The Return of Lucky Jim.

Oct 11th, 2012 | Categories: Books, David Coggins, England | by David Coggins

Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis’s first novel, was published in 1954 and promptly entered the pantheon of British postwar literature. It’s just been reissued by the invaluable New York Review Books Classics, which is the literary equivalent of receiving a case of Laphroaig. Our hero, Jim Dixon, a young university lecturer, grapples with a stream of improbable academic cranks, pretentious artists, neurotic women, a vengeful oboist and his own self-destructive streak. The novel is trenchant, knowing and audaciously misanthropic. It may be the funniest book ever written.

Yes, that’s an absurd statement (Jim himself would surely raise an eyebrow at such a sweeping claim). But Lucky Jim remains the benchmark for satire, misbehavior and the absurd demands of adult life. Strangely, some Lucky Jim partisans struggle through the book’s opening the first time they read it. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people to take pause before they plow their way through it. Why is that? Like watching Shakespeare’s plotting villains or early episodes of Deadwood, it takes some time to acclimate yourself to the incredibly specific, rarefied language. But that makes it sound as if it’s an exalted enterprise: it’s not.





The Greatest Brand Book Ever Made.

Sep 13th, 2012 | Categories: Books, Craft, Paris | by Michael Williams

Normally the watch companies are the ones who release the finest books documenting the history and heritage of their brands. Though it wasn’t until recently when confronted with the history of iconic french trunk maker Goyard that I realized just how exceptional a company archive book can be.

In releasing the book, Goyard partnered with the storied Parisian publisher Devambez to release 233 editions, which will each set you back a healthy sum of 6000€ (not including shipping or VAT tax or any customization that you do to the case). The 233 number is symbolic because it is the address of the original Goyard store on rue Saint-Honoré in Paris. Each book is painstakingly made by hand by the finest artisans in France and comes in its own individually numbered, fully custom Goyard case.





Pinup Provocateur: Bunny Yeager’s Darkroom

Aug 31st, 2012 | Categories: Books, David Coggins, Photography | by David Coggins

These days we are rarely without a camera, yet how often do we hold an actual photograph? We flip through streams of jpegs, on Tumblr, Instagram and the rest, we “like,” reblog and create virtual slideshows. We get daily dispatches from friends on alpine treks, course-by-course accounts of elaborate meals, and inspect carefully curated interiors. It’s so easy to create an evocative filter that we’ve become suspicious of what we’re looking at. It was not always thus.

Bunny Yeager’s photographs are direct and bracing. They remind us of the basic power of controlling the image and the elemental act of provocation. It should be mentioned that she was a pinup girl and named “world’s prettiest photographer” of 1953. You can enjoy her handiwork in the new book Bunny Yeager’s Darkroom: Pin-Up Photography’s Golden Era, (Rizzoli).





The Literary Life of a Dunhill Man

Mar 9th, 2011 | Categories: Art, Books, England, Jared Paul Stern | by Jared Paul Stern

Seeing Dunhill’s new ad campaign didn’t make me want to buy luxury goods from London; it made me want a Miller. A Harland Miller. He’s the rather shabby fellow among the three fairly obscure Brits chosen as the brand’s new faces this season, the one trying to hide behind an $1,100 briefcase (below). That must be why I failed to recognize one of my favorite contemporary artists at first, but reading the fine print I found he was one and the same. The talented painter and author first caught my eye when his 2007 monograph International Lonely Guy landed on my desk. What he does best are atmospheric re-interpretations of classic Penguin paperback covers – and I know I’m not the only one around here with a fondness for those.





Punching Out

Mar 2nd, 2011 | Categories: Books | by Michael Williams

During the Super Bowl Chrysler debuted a commercial for its new Chrysler 200 sedan that closed, stoically, with the phrase “Imported from Detroit,” a reference to the 200′s assembly at the Sterling Heights plant in Michigan and a statement that was especially poignant me. The commercial and the closing sentiment really stuck me, not because of my constant made in the USA flag waving, but more because I was just finishing reading the book Punching Out: One Year in a Closing Auto Plant. The story — by Detroit native Paul Clemens — documents the shuttering of the Budd Detroit Automotive Plant, Stamping and Framing Division. Budd, a longtime supplier of the Big Three, was founded in 1912 and was probably most famous for stamping the body parts for the Ford Thunderbird in the 1950s.

At its peak Budd Detroit employed 10,000 people, but by the time Clemens arrived there were only a dozen or so people remaining to help strip the place for its metal and machinery. Basically a flock of factory undertakers arrived to strip it for salvage and then leave it for dead. The plant’s massive and valuable presses — which were some of the largest in the world — were sold, systematically dismantled by a highly skilled group of riggers and then shipped to India, Brazil and Mexico to live on making auto parts in other parts of the world. Ironically, the Budd plant in Detroit was sandwiched between a Chrysler assembly plant and a Chrysler engine factory, but that didn’t stop its main press line from being shipped a few thousand miles to central Mexico to stamp body sides for America-bound Dodge Journeys, for who but Chrysler.





A Thousand Days of JFK

Feb 24th, 2011 | Categories: Books, History, Jared Paul Stern | by Jared Paul Stern

It’s a busy season for Kennedy nostalgia, what with the 50th anniversary of his inauguration, the debut of the JFK Library’s digital archive, and the scrapping of an ill-conceived biopic. Of course some people were looking forward to the flick in the hopes of some stylish scenes, historical accuracy be damned. Amid all the hoopla however it’s been overlooked that a bona fide JFK film just came out – albeit tucked in the back of a book. We’re talking about Portrait of Camelot: A Thousand Days in the Kennedy White House by Richard Reeves with photos by Cecil W. Stoughton, which comes complete with a DVD of never-before-seen film footage.