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Art and cultural criticism:A book about art, its ability to witness, and memory: analyzes 'the unspoken' in Jonas Mekas films, poetry, and excerpts of diaries. Impassioned, visual writing makes for quick and compelling reading. Makes readers think about their own relationships to past genocides, civil wars, colonization, and occupations.
Important Jewish scholarship highlighted: Brings a conflict to light between witnesses of trauma and dispassionate historians. Mekas's antagonist in a controversy at the NYRB is historian Michael Casper, a well-respected author and scholar of Jewish history, specializing in interwar Lithuania, who has been an USHMM Fellow, a Fulbright Scholar, and received his doctorate from UCLA. Mekas never mentions the Holocaust in Lithuania. Casper asks, why?
Mekas is the 'Godfather of American avant-garde cinema’: extremely influential, founded the New York Anthology Archives, wrote his Movie Journal column in the Village Voice for decades. Collected his columns and diaries in popular books. Numerous international awards bestowed during his lifetime (1922–2019) and his circle included such celebrities as Andy Warhol, Salvador Dalí, Susan Sontag, Yoko Ono, Allen Ginsberg, and Jackie Kennedy.
Lithuania during the Holocaust:Reveals little-known facts about one of the most brutal areas of activity for the Einsatzgruppen (Nazi assassination squads), who often enlisted civilians in their crimes. The book presents the life of an exile and former displaced-person from war-torn Europe. Readers learn specific circumstances about the civilians in the Soviet-occupied Baltic States, who lived through WWII and the Holocaust, as well as facts about the 95% of Lithuanian Jewish residents who were killed.
Cancel culture and its limitations:Several hinge-points relating to today’s most toxic and polarizing topics, all taking place at the venerable New York Review of Books in 2018 under the former leadership of Ian Buruma, who was fired for taking sides in the #MeToo movement and publishing an accused sexual assault perpetrator’s self-defense. Shows the impossibility of neutral ground but also, in the Mekas case, people’s rush to judgment.
Author is established film director: Delpeut was deputy-director of the Netherlands Filmmuseum (now Eye) for 7 years and is a well-respected Dutch author of novels and essays. His prior books have explored art, film, witnessing, the nature of truth, and the pain of losing loved ones.
Striking book design:spot gloss and edge printing. Page number design has a flip-book element. Designed by a young Lithuanian typographer.