Friday, September 21, 2007

My Name is Paul Holdengraber

I had read some of the New Yorker pieces and Istanbul and My Name is Red before my first trip to Turkey this time last year, and while frankly I have found Orhan Pamuk's exquisitely detailed universes to be more admirable than engaging (the miniature is truly his metier), I was very keen to attend his 'Conversation with Paul Holdengraber' which opened the fall season of the NYPL's LIVE series this past week. He's got a big fat new hardcover collection of essays called Other Colors and Sonny Mehta was in the audience which I know not because I saw him but because in the 10 minute ad with which Paul Holdengraber introduced and promoted the series and himself, he made sure that no one could be in any doubt about cultural and social importance of the occasion. (Along with Mr. Mehta, Holdengraber singled out Pamuk's publicist, 'absolutely the best publicist in all of New York'. What do you want to bet a big fat new hardcover of Conversations with Paul Holdengraber is in the works)?

I better understood my own response to Pamuk after hearing him talk about his return to painting (he had trained as a painter during his youth and is co-teaching a class at Columbia this term called Word and Picture which sounds charmingly mistranslated) and repeatedly referring to books and essays as 'objects'.

But mostly what I understood was that like an interview with Barbara Walters or a photo with Elvis (and no I'm not linking either), a conversation with Paul Holdengraber is never really about anything, or anyone, else.

1 comment:

Jenny Douglas said...

Wonderfully, um, observed....