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Vermeer in Bosnia: Selected Writings

4.18  ·  Rating Details ·  214 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
There are writers who specialize in the strange and others whose genius is to find the strangeness in the familiar, the unexpected meanings in stories we thought we knew. Of that second category, Lawrence Weschler is the master. Witness the pieces in this splendidly disorienting collection, spanning twenty years of his career and the full range of his concerns–which is to ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published July 12th 2005 by Vintage (first published 2004)
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Apr 27, 2012 Jaci rated it it was amazing
This collection of long and shorter articles by Weschler are exquisite examples of pattern recognition. Connecting Vermeer's Lacemaker with the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal, talking about the light in Los Angeles (and he's spot on with that one), detailing Roman Polanski's background, each essay in prose that makes one's heart sing, is a beautiful offering. On to read more Weschler, even though I keep trying to move that "s" in his last name. To top it off, I now know how Spock got his hand gree ...more
Michael Larson
Sep 01, 2012 Michael Larson rated it it was amazing
Weschler never ceases to amaze me in his ability to make such a wide array of topics accessible without dumbing anything down. He tackles such heavy topics- from war crimes tribunals to the redemptive power of art, and yet his writing is consistently lucid, heartfelt, and witty. He clearly has a scholar's knowledge of each of his subjects, and yet he feels like someone who you'd just want to go out for a beer with, just for the great conversations you know you'd have.

He's the rare non-fiction w
Josh Friedlander
Some lovely writing here - basically a collection of luxuriously lengthy dispatches (ah, pre-Internet journalism!) Weschler wrote for various magazines, mainly the New Yorker and Rolling Stone, from Poland and the Balkans, as well as pieces on artists, some family history, and a section on his native Los Angeles. Occasionally a little overwrought. The title essay refers to a musing on the connection between Vermeer's Delft and the religious, sectarian upheaval of Kosovo in the '90s. Weschler fin ...more
Aug 31, 2008 Judith rated it it was amazing
This is a rich collection of essays by a writer well-known to readers of the New Yorker. They mix issues of politics and the arts, opening ways of thinking about the value of the humanities. The opening essays are the strongest--probing the stillness of works of 17th-century Dutch painter Vermeer, whose work Weschler explores while covering the Bosnian genocide trials in the Hague; or examining Shakepeare's Henry V, and what is had to say about the treatment of prisoners of war, from the vantage ...more
Apr 30, 2008 shawn rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: reviews
this is a great book. weschler is at his best in this sort of presentation: essays of variable length on pet topics that also somehow explore other pet topics (see also his phenomenal "everything that rises"). if you happen to be entranced by all things balkan (like myself), this book has the added bonus of dwelling often on post-yugoslavia issues and history. if you happen to be an artist or interested in the arts (like myself), this book has the added bonus of several extraordinarily compellin ...more
Oct 04, 2007 Jessica rated it liked it
Recommends it for: those bored looking for orwell in burma
A lot of these essays I could sort of take or leave, thus the three stars, which I guess is a rough average. There is some unbelievable five star quality stuff in here, though: the first section -- A Balkan Triptych -- is incredible, and there're some other very memorable things that I took to, like an essay about the specific quality of light in Los Angeles. The one on Jerzy Urban's good, too.

This is one of those books that reminds you of the world's hugeness and complexity, then softens the bl
Nancy Gillies
Jun 21, 2016 Nancy Gillies rated it liked it
Weschler is a fine writer, and his knowledge of visual arts and music is impressive, but I just wasn't drawn into most of the subjects he explored. He did help me to see Roman Polanski in a new light (although I still find him to be a despicable person). I thought he was at his best when he was writing about his grandfather and his daughter.
Jun 28, 2007 Noreen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This book is a series of essays on different subjects. There is one on Roman Polanski that is very interesting, compelling and well-written. The human aspect of these essays give them their poignancy. The essay about the author and his daughter involved in a situation where he plays into her fantasy (she is about seven at the time) is very touching. The essay about the light in Los Angeles is enjoyable. The essay about the LA earthquake, Northridge in 1994 is intriguing especially concerning the ...more
Oct 24, 2009 Ruth rated it liked it
Shelves: art
I really only checked this book out of the library to read the essay on Los Angeles light, which I enjoyed very much. I've long said there is a special light in coastal Southern California, and no time is it more evident than in the fall, when in the long raking light of late afternoon turns everything to gold. I didn't read all the other essays in the book, but I did read the title essay which I enjoyed, and several of the others. If it hadn't been a library book it would have been one I left l ...more
Nov 16, 2008 John rated it liked it
Interesting collection of essays that are thematically related. If you've never read this author before, this likely wouldn't be the choice for a first book. Wish I would have found a copy of Mr Wilson's Cabinet of Wonders to start with. However, if you like the kind of journalism that is regularly featured in Harpers, you will get something out of this book. Subjects covered include war, family and California artists.
Sep 09, 2007 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I'm becoming a big Weschler fan -- I loved Everything that Rises. There are some excellent essays in this book, and I plan to read more Weschler soon. It also introduced me to the work of David Hockney -- fascinating stuff. And who doesn't love a transcript of a This American Life episode about the Borrowers?
Mar 08, 2010 Rachel rated it liked it
Bought this years ago because Vermeer and Bosnia were in the title. It's actually a collection of new yorker and mcsweenys stories. The ones I liked least were about the Balkans (which is really surprising). I most enjoyed his portraits of artists: Hockney and Polanski among others.
Jul 19, 2010 Charles rated it really liked it
Extremely interesting batch of essays, many from The New Yorker, others not. Vermeer, Shakespeare's Henry V, the war crimes tribunal in The Hague, a long, informative and sympathetic view of Roman Polanski, and lots more. I'm glad I read it.
May 15, 2009 David rated it it was amazing
Just shy of perfect, this book of essays is strongest at the beginning as it sets art in contrast to war crimes, and very gracefully describes how the creative act really does change the world, even if by the simple negation of a destructive act.
Jan 05, 2008 Magie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author is a journalist, and this book is four different stories ranging from his experiences covering the trial of Slobodan Milosovicz to a retrospective of Roman Polanski. Great Read.
Apr 06, 2009 Katelou rated it really liked it
This book is certainly fascinating, but it helps if you already have a pretty solid knowledge of art and film (which I do not). That said, I still thoroughly enjoyed it.
Chuck Dunaj
May 09, 2016 Chuck Dunaj rated it it was amazing
Excellent book but not for everyone. Some very graphic depictions of war crimes and a woodworking accident.
Jun 03, 2008 Colleen is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I am a little less than half-way through this and I am completely fascinated....will update once finished
Jan 25, 2008 Lou rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
i would recommend reading weschler in small doses, reading this straight through gets old fast.
Feb 29, 2008 Ginny rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art-writing
If I could write about art like Lawrence Weschler I could die a happy woman.
Aug 25, 2011 Linda rated it really liked it
The essay on SoCal is worth reading alone!
Aug 09, 2009 Mark rated it it was amazing
i want to be lawrence weschler when i grow up.
Nov 10, 2010 Zach rated it it was amazing
Absolutely Wonderful!
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Lawrence Weschler, a graduate of Cowell College of the University of California at Santa Cruz (1974), was for over twenty years (1981-2002) a staff writer at The New Yorker, where his work shuttled between political tragedies and cultural comedies. He is a two-time winner of the George Polk Award (for Cultural Reporting in 1988 and Magazine Reporting in 1992) and was also a recipient of Lannan Lit ...more
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