Saturday, March 27, 2010

Just finished reading...


Maira Kalman is a treasure. She has written and illustrated children's books (including the delightful Max Stravinsky series about a dog who is also a poet), painted covers for the venerable New Yorker magazine, and even published an illustrated version of ELEMENTS OF STYLE by Strunk and White! Whimsical, odd, peculiar, funny, corny, touching, poignant, charming; her books are all of this and more. Her painting style is loose, child-like, painterly and passionate.

Although sprinkled with references to grief and death, her 2007 illustrated book THE PRINCIPLES OF UNCERTAINTY is not a somber or heavy affair. It is full of non-sequiturs, funny hats, and the magical, fleeting moments of lives--all of our lives--that make us grin or sigh with satisfaction, knowing that it will be gone soon. It is the story of a woman reaching through confusion toward buoyancy. In fact, Kalman seems to come to the conclusion that we continue to find beauty in the things all round us--we must continue to do so--despite the fact that loved ones disappear from our lives, despite not knowing if we are going to wake up tomorrow, despite the principles of uncertainty.

This book is a history lesson, diary, travelogue, cook book, catalogue of collections, and a chronicle of eccentric and fascinating folks from around the world. Kalman displays a genuine interest in the facts and ephemera of people's lives, and a tender respect for the fragility and preciousness of it all. Her paintings are filled with people whose feet, Chagall-like, do not touch the ground, rooms whose perspectives are skewed, and images of desserts and abandoned sofas!

Recommend? Yes yes yes.

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