U.S. Book Publishers End This Godawful Year In Good Shape

“With so many people stuck at home and activities from concerts to movies off limits, people have been reading a lot — or at least buying a lot of books. Print sales by units are up almost 8 percent so far this year, according to NPD BookScan. E-books and audiobooks, which make up a smaller portion of the market, are up as well.” Says the CEO of Penguin Random House, “I expect that … when you look at the final numbers, it will have been the best year in a very long time.” – The New York Times

Fou Ts’ong, China’s First Internationally Known Classical Pianist, Dead Of COVID At 86

Born to a pair of French literature scholars who were later driven to suicide during the Cultural Revolution, Fou went to Warsaw to study at age 19 and two years later won a prize in the Chopin Competition. Not long after, he escaped to western Europe and eventually settled in London, where he taught and maintained an international concert career. – BBC

New York Chauvinism? “Groundbreaking” Show at the Whitney Builds on Dartmouth College’s Lead

I didn’t disclose my contrarian reaction to the Whitney Museum’s Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art when it opened last February. But now I feel less compunction about tempering the praise lavished by art critics on this exploration of how U.S. modernists were inspired by Mexican painters. – Lee Rosenbaum

“An Act of Empathy” — a Dvořák Radio Documentary

When PostClassical Ensemble produced an hour-long film about Dvořák and “the American experience of race” last September, we hardly envisioned turning it into a 45-minute public radio special for the holidays. But that’s what happened, thanks to an invitation from Rupert Allman, who produces the nationally distributed radio magazine 1A. – Joseph Horowitz

The Riverside Bookstalls Of Paris Have Been There For 400 Years. Can They Survive 2020’s Parade Of Catastrophes?

“Despite frequent bans by assorted French kings, bouquinistes – the first dictionary entry for the term was in 1752 – have been hawking their wares along the Seine since the 16th century, originally from handcarts, voluminous pockets and trestle tables. … 227 franchises were operating at the beginning of the year; 221 are open now – at least, in theory. In practice, except on sunny weekends, as many as 80% of the railway-green boxes are more or less permanently closed, and most bouquinistes‘ incomes have plunged by a similar percentage.” – The Guardian