This week: Crime fiction, Four Seasons, Central Park scavenger hunts & more from the world of culture.
The Annotated Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler (Penguin Random House): Raymond Chandler claimed that he wrote his novels by “cannibalizing” his masterful short stories to serve up a feast of noir crime fiction. The technique pays off to delicious effect in The Big Sleep, his 1939 classic about the private eye Philip Marlowe that goes down smooth with its stylish prose, but leaves a few leftovers (Hey Raymond, who killed the chauffeur?). The Annotated Big Sleep doesn’t answer that question, but it does, in the course of more than five hundred pages, flesh out the world of Chandler, Marlowe, and 1930s Los Angeles. The new annotated version, edited by Owen Hill, Pamela Jackson, and Anthony Rizzuto, includes Chandler’s personal letters, stills from the two film adaptions, period art, and more. —HN
“French Pastels: Treasures from the Vault,” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (through January 6, 2019): Though the “world of culture” discussed in these pages remains far too often circumscribed by the geographical limits of the New York metropolitan area, on occasion we editors have the chance to stretch our legs, so to speak, and recommend artistic goings-on further afield. Last weekend, I had the chance to visit Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, which is currently hosting “French Pastels: Treasures from the Vault.” Pastel is among the most fragile of artistic mediums. It’s also one of the most difficult to conserve: both the chalky pigment and the paper to which it is applied are incredibly light-sensitive, so museums set strict limits on the lengths of time that works are shown in public. Running until January 6, 2019, this exhibition gives us the rare opportunity to take an extended look at how nineteenth-century French masters—including Millet, Manet, Monet, and Degas—advanced the ephemeral, dust-like medium for their own artistic purposes. The well-hung exhibition of nearly forty works is a must-attend: seeing Degas’ stunning Dancers Resting (1881–85), one of eight included works by the artist, will justify on its own the trip to Boston’s venerable museum. —AS
Orchestra of St. Luke’s, at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park (July 31): The final Naumburg orchestral concert of the summer will feature the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. The New York–based group, started in 1974, plays eighty concerts a year and operates the DiMenna Center, a recording and educational space for classical music in Hell’s Kitchen. The program will focus on Vivaldi: first up is the vivacious Concerto for Strings in C Major (RV 117). The soprano Sherezade Panthaki will join the orchestra for In Furore lustissimae Irae (RV 626), and the violinist Krista Bennion Feeney will conclude the summer concert season with the perennial Vivaldi classic: Four Seasons. The free event begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Naumburg Bandshell, southwest of the Seventy-second Street and Fifth Avenue entrance of Central Park. —HN
Secret Central Park: Summer Scavenger Hunt and Happy Hour, presented by the Museum of the City of New York (July 29): It’s difficult for recent arrivals to New York to imagine, but there was a time in the not-so-distant past when Central Park would not have been fit to host a scavenger hunt. Beset by neglect and pocked with the hallmarks of urban decay (litter and vagrants), Frederick Law Olmsted’s masterpiece was a grim scene. That Central Park is now the verdant oasis of its original conception is mostly down to the tireless work of Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, who founded the Central Park Conservancy, rescuing the green space from the treacherous hands of city government. Reading Rogers’s recent memoir will remind citizens of just how precarious a treasure Central Park is, while participating in the Museum of the City of New York’s “Secret Central Park” scavenger hunt this Sunday will provide participants with an entertaining historical perspective on the city’s most beloved outdoor space. —BR
From the archive: “G. C. Lichtenberg: a ‘spy on humanity,’ ” by Roger Kimball (May 2002). On the aphorist.
From the current issue: “The alternative modernist,” by Francis Morrone. A review of Minoru Yamasaki: Humanist Architecture for a Modernist World by Dale Allen Gyure.
Broadcast: “Becoming a literary cuss” (audio article), by James Tuttleton. A review of Mark Twain’s Letters, Volume I: 1853–1866 (Mark Twain Papers).