The Trans­fig­u­ra­tion of the Com­mon­place

The Week (US) - - Arts 23 -

cri­te­rion in ob­ser­va­tion and com­par­i­son for stat­ing that one of them is real and the other not.” How can we talk about a work of art with­out ask­ing what it is? I love this.

by Ed­ward Tufte (Graph­ics Press, $32). Tufte, a data sci­en­tist, trans­formed the way I see the world: A sim­ple railway timetable can be a source of joy or out­rage, be­cause, as Tufte writes, “Clut­ter and con­fu­sion are fail­ures of de­sign, not at­tributes of in­for­ma­tion.”

by Italo Calvino (Har­court Brace Jo­vanovich, $15). Marco Polo sits in a gar­den with an ag­ing Kublai Khan and de­scribes 55 imag­i­nary cities, each or­ga­nized on fan­tas­tic prin­ci­ples. Calvino’s novel con­jures a rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent Amer­ica, an Amer­ica where we could choose the so­cial ex­per­i­ment that suits us best.

by Rus­sell Hoban (In­di­ana Univ., $18). The un­der­rated equal of T.S. Eliot’s Hoban’s 1980 novel presents a postapoc­a­lyp­tic world where for­got­ten science is fetishized and spo­ken of in mythic terms.

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