Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 2:10 pm
What is the point of the best-seller list? Depends who you are. If you're a reader, it's a guide to what's popular — what's new, what your neighbors are buying, and what you might like to read next. If you're a publisher, it's a source of feedback and a sales tool: It tells you how your books compete, and gives you triumphs to crow about on paperback covers.
There was a huge art heist this week. Paintings by Gauguin, Matisse, Picasso, Monet and other artists were stolen from an exhibition hall in Rotterdam. Picasso's "Harlequin Head" and Monet's "Waterloo Bridge" were among the purloined works. And their loss is estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars.
Sidney Rittenberg went to China as an American GI at the end of World War II and fell in love with the country. He was discharged as a Chinese translator for the U.S. Army, but decided to stay there.
By the time Rittenberg came back to the United States, more than 30 years later, he had become one of only a few American citizens to join the Chinese Communist Party. He translated English for Chairman Mao Zedong, told off Madame Mao during the Cultural Revolution, and endured 16 years of solitary confinement in Chinese prisons.
John Lennon loved word play; he wrote songs that have not only become standards, but also milestones, like "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and "Strawberry Fields," which he wrote with the Beatles, and "Imagine" and "Give Peace a Chance," which he wrote on his own. For most of his life, he also composed letters to friends and family; then lovers, as he grew up; and strangers, as he grew famous. His notes, letters and postcards often contained small, funny drawings and self portraits.