Thursday, August 25, 2011

and the pursuit of happiness



My daughter, Elspeth, recently gave me a signed copy of Maira Kalman's delightful book, And the Pursuit of Happiness.  She saw it in her favorite book shop, Three Lives & Company, Greenwich Village, and knew I would love it.

She was right, I immediately connected with Kalman's wonderful idiosyncratic style.  We obviously have the same sense of humor, and I laughed out loud at her delightful remarks, since they could have easily been my own.

Inspired by the 2008 elections, Kalman embarked on a yearlong investigation of democracy and how it works, from town hall meetings in Vermont to the inner chambers of the Supreme Court.  And the Pursuit of Happiness is a diary of her quirky drawings and observations in a lovely tribute to American history and democracy. Anyone who can make this statement, is one after my own heart:

The more I read, the more entranced I became.  
Over 15,000 books have been written about Lincoln.  
I won't claim to have read them all , or even any.  
But it became clear, as I tumbled into his world, that he had a magnetic appeal.  
I looked at images. I looked deep into his eyes and found that I was falling in love. 
In love with A. Lincoln.


Kalman has also written children's books (another of my passions) about Max Stravinsky, the poet-dog, as well as done covers for the New Yorker.  She is definitely on my A List.


38 comments:

  1. I love those illustrations that you have posted...quirky and fun!

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  2. Elspeth....i LOVE your daughter's name..i have never heard that name...love it !!!

    great post...

    i have missed you, my friend

    happy to stop by today

    kary and teddy
    xx

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  3. I echo F.Kitchen's statement about your daughter's name - wonderful choice. The book sounds (and looks) most enjoyable but what I like most is that your daughter knew you would love it, and you did. That kind of connection is priceless.

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  4. PS - I also have imaginary best friends :)

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  5. I just adore Maira Kalman's blog And the Pursuit of Happiness, and I was awfully disappointed when she stopped it. Her art, writing and approach are a constant and grounding inspiration to me. (I covet the book. Maybe I can put it on my amazon list for my daughter's next gift to me . . . )

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  6. thank you so much for sharing elspeth's gift with us!

    sounds like a book to treasure and i am off to check out how to procure a copy for our home library.

    just from what you pulled out show some wonderful insights about our world and an endearing sense of humor.

    i wonder if i've read any of her children's books - a passion we share!

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  7. also thanks for the info on three lives and company - i can't figure out how i've missed this bookshop on my wanders around the village! especially considering that it is just a couple blocks from the bookshop i visit (partners & crime) on every trip to nyc!

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  8. you are opening my world Tess... and I love it!

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  9. this looks os good. at first, i though it was going to be something really heavy! love the drawings. a new author for me. thanks.

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  10. Suki, it's light and delightful...you can read it cover to cover in less than an hour!

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  11. I like her artwork and admire her pursuit of the real and true Lincoln.

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  12. It's wonderful getting so much and on something contemporary. Her obsession with Lincoln is amazing. There must be lots to know and to learn.

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  13. Maira Kalman read a little? about Lincoln, looked into his eyes, and fell in love. Now THAT'S "my kinda girl!"

    Sounds also like "my kinda humor". Thanks Tess Kincaid (I love that word--your name, Kincaid!). Waiting patiently for your book, girl.

    I know, I know! Such a demand, the printers cannot keep up. (We all wish that to be true!)
    PEACE!

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  14. I think I would like her too after reading your nice post -- barbara

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  15. I'd read it just for the illustrations!

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  16. I detect a wee bit of Hockney in her illustrations... beautifully done, and nothing left over to annoy.

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  17. Oh, yes. I love Maira Kalman -- I had the pleasure of seeing her very large exhibit of work displayed here in Los Angeles not too long ago. There's something irresistible and rebellious about her and her drawing and writing.

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  18. What a thoughtful daughter you have there.

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  19. If you like it Tess, I am on my way to find it.

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  20. I followed this series when it was in the New York Times, it IS so very delightful. I'm so glad she published it all in a book.

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  21. great
    super
    super dee duper
    awesome
    jupiter
    saturn
    moon

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  22. That sounds right up my street too, Tess. What a thoughtful daughter you have.
    I like your Seamus Heaney poem extract on your side bar, I am off to a festival of poetry on the Hill of Tara on Sunday. Some of our well known poets will be reading. Seamus read last year but alas wont be there this year. I should be inspired for a poetic Magpie on Monday.

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  23. i really need to give time to reading. i am missing a lot...

    btw, love your daughter's name...

    JJRod'z

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  24. What a fascinating individual. I think we need more like her.

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  25. That is funny. (paraphrased) She would have studied music at my school if her parents had let her! Quirky and charming.

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  26. Another great discovery. Continued inspiration. I learn so much over here!

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  27. Love the artwork! Lincoln and America, too : )

    And, forgive me, Tess, I know this will seem a shameless plug, but I marveled that your daughter's name is Elspeth! I love that name and have only heard it once... in the Scottish Legend. It was this legend, or, rather, the image I used to tell it, which was featured in September's edition of Wonderful WV mag...
    http://naturalelementsnews.blogspot.com/2011/08/wonderful-west-virginia-magazine.html

    Anyway,

    Slainte! to the Elspeths of the world!

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  28. I completely agree with you re Maira Kalman...I adore her style and especially her sense of humor. I am guessing that you and I have a similar sense of humor:)

    She stopped doing it in 2009 but I was a constant follower of her NYT blog on The Pursuit of Happiness...I wish it was still going. Maybe you can still see the archives at http://kalman.blogs.nytimes.com/

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  29. Amy, thanks so much for the link...I'm curious as to the legend...off to find out more...

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  30. Love the painting of Ruth. It somehow reminds of Frida Kahlo's art in a weird sort of way. Frida used to handwrite messages on her paintings, too.

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  31. One of my favorites too
    saw her give a talk in Philadelphia last year
    an absolute delight in books and in person.

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  32. I love her too! I followed her diary in the New York Times. My favorite of all was her George Washington biography.

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  33. Wow this looks super cool - and Greenwich Village sounds like somewhere a girl has to visit once in her lifetime :)
    Who are the other illustrators you have collected over the years? There is something magical about their abilities.

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  34. Shaista, I love Lane Smith, Giselle Potter, Lisbeth Zwerger, Chris Van Allsburg, Edward Gorey...to name a few...

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Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)