In today's Prufrock: Nordic existentialist, Paul Kingsnorth’s The Wake a "triumph," pauper funerals, Arthur Conan Doyle's house to become a school, Ted Cruz signs $1.5 million book deal, was Updike a major writer?, Buzzfeed's new "Ideas" section, on Spanish tile master Rafael Guastavino, and more.

Reviews and News:

Nordic existentialist:
Paul Kingsnorth’s The Wake—a “medieval tale of guerrilla warfare in the Lincolnshire fens”—is a “triumph”:
Daniel Alarcón’s At Night We Walk in Circles:
Paul Gauguin and Pierre Bonnard paintings discovered in the kitchen of a retired Sicilian autoworker 44 years after they disappeared:
Pauper funerals: The story of those who die alone:
What it would be like to live on Mars:
Jesus loves the rich:
The problem with high frequency trading:
Fighting income inequality with friendship:
Arthur Conan Doyle's house to be converted into a school:
Ted Cruz signs $1.5 million book deal:
Was Updike a major writer or a “minor novelist with a major style”?
“A Few Things Before I Choose You to Watch My Laptop”:
From the Blog:
Buzzfeed’s new “Ideas” section isn't very promising:
Essay of the Day:
In The New York Review of Books, Martin Filler profiles the Spanish builder Rafael Guastavino who specialized in tile and is responsible for some of New York’s most stunning tilework (
“If all politics is local, then much architectural history is also a neighborhood matter. Thus I harbor an abiding personal fondness for the ingenious structural creations of the Spanish émigré master builder Rafael Guastavino (1842–1908). Time and again in old New York buildings, it’s a delight to lift up your eyes and unexpectedly find Guastavino’s distinctive herringbone terracotta tile patterns overhead.”
* * *
“In New York City alone, there are no fewer than two hundred fifty examples of Guastavino’s quintessential contribution—the lightweight, low-tech, long-span vaulting technique that systematized and modernized a late-medieval masonry tradition based on terracotta tiles. Guastavino introduced his refinement of that age-old building method (which originated in Islamic practices brought to Spain by Moorish invaders) just when iron and masonry were giving way to steel and concrete as the favored structural materials of the industrialized world. 
“Born in Valencia, where the technology he expanded upon was devised in the late fourteenth century, Guastavino scored a youthful triumph with his Batlló textile factory of 1871 in Barcelona. (The large and prosperous Batlló family commissioned a number of other noteworthy buildings in that booming manufacturing city, including Gaudí’s most celebrated residence, his dragon-like Casa Batlló of 1904–1906.)
“Guastavino’s proposed scheme for ‘Improving the Healthfulness of Industrial Towns’ won an honorable mention at the 1876 Centennial International Exposition in Philadelphia, which encouraged him to immigrate to the US five years later. He arrived in New York with a $40,000 nest egg, lost it in a Manhattan tenement construction speculation, then recovered when in 1885 he filed the first three of his firm’s two dozen patents (a third of which were for acoustical improvements to make tiled interiors less noisy). Two major selling points were that Guastavino construction was sanitary (impervious to damp and rot, plus easy to clean) and, most importantly, fireproof, a widespread public safety concern in the aftermath of several catastrophic nineteenth-century urban conflagrations.”
Read the rest:
Image of the Day:
Shepherd in the Andes:
Ryan Black, “Why Bother?”:
What You’ll Be Reading Next Week:
Andrew Lycett, editor, Kipling and the Sea (I.B. Tauris, April 15): From the jacket: “ Kipling may be best known  as a commentator on the British Empire, but he was also a vivid observer and chronicler of the sea—and of ships and all who sailed in them. For him, the sea was the glue which bound the British Empire together. So Kipling wrote copiously about his own voyages—to India, across the Pacific and Atlantic, down to South Africa and Australia— and about the voyages of others. Sailors were particular heroes of his, as adventurers who braved every kind of element and danger in order to reach distant lands. In writing about them, he was enthralled by the romance of the sea, touching  on everything  from pirates to technical changes in ships. At all stages of his life Kipling  peppered his many letters with observations about the sea, encompassing  his own voyages and his other nautical interests. Newly edited and featuring a commentary by Kipling  expert and author of the much-praised Kipling AbroadKipling and the Sea illuminates a side of Kipling’s work that has not yet been fully explored.”


Prufrock is a daily newsletter on books, art and ideas, edited by Micah Mattix. Copyright © 2014 The American Conservative, All rights reserved.
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