Addicted To Books On Tape

Reading is king of course. But there are those among us who develop an addiction for hearing the spoken word read to us. “Perhaps there is something psychologically reassuring about listening to someone read a story. Hardly a day has passed in the last 30 years in which I have not heard a spoken-word recording of one kind or another. I go to sleep every night with the soothing sounds of a recorded book.”

The Trocks – Bang For The Buck

Joan Acocella checks in on the Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, currently celebrating its 30th anniversary. “Has success spoiled them? I don’t know—I wasn’t there in 1974—but when, last month at the Joyce, I watched the opening night of their thirtieth-anniversary season, thought, These people are delivering more bang fo the buck than most other classical companies in America.”

Hollywood’s Weak Holidays

Hollywood might have had a record year at the box office in 2004, but the holiday period was weak. “Ticket sales for the period from Labor Day through Christmas weekend fell more than 6 percent to $2.52 billion, according to data from the tracking company Exhibitor Relations. The company said attendance during the period fell 9 percent.”

Istanbul’s New Modern

Istabbul has its first museum of modern art, newly located in a former customs warehouse. “While Turkey has a solid tradition of painting and a lively private gallery scene, the museum could provide a much-needed, stable institutional base, acting as a two-way bridge to Europe and other established centers of Western art.”

St. Louis Symphony To Strike?

Contract negotiations between musicians and the St. Louis Symphony broke down Sunday night, and the players will vote whether to strike today. “There are a number of issues under discussion, including benefits and work rules, but the biggest one is economic: Management has asked the musicians to take a pay cut, and they want a raise.”

The Many-Sided Sontag

For what, will Susan Sontag be best remembered? “It’s not clear what, in the future, will be made of Sontag’s many-sided career. It may be that the fiction will be treated as a secondary matter. “The Volcano Lover” was a high peak of modern psychological realism, but Sontag never matched it in her other novels. If there is one achievement that people should remember her for, it is the critical essays, mostly on writers and filmmakers, that she collected in “Against Interpretation” (1966), the volume that made her famous; “Styles of Radical Will” (1969); and “Under the Sign of Saturn” (1980).”

Looking Around At 2005

Is 2005 the start of a new era in art? “We don’t have art movements any more, for one thing. We have market movements. In the place of successive modernist and post-modernist esthetic revolutions — now decades in the past — we have fads and collector enthusiasms, things like Japanese anime, Chinese photography and the new Leipzig painters. Such developments are symptoms of a fallow, second- and third-generation period, and at the same time indicate new levels of competition in the continuously expanding, robust international art market.”

The EU’s Resale Madness

A proposed levy in the European Union would grant a resale tax on every resold piece of art. “The measure will give artists, and their descendants for 70 years after their deaths, claims upon a levy imposed every time one of their works is resold. Very fair, some will say. Yet in practice, it will simply cause owners of contemporary art to send works for sale in markets where the levy is not applied, notably Switzerland and the US.”