My dream dinner guest is Maira Kalman. I want to cook something for her, I want to have a cup of tea with her, and then I want to for a long walk with her. If you are familiar with any of Ms. Kalman’s wide range of work, you may understand why I beam at the mention of her name. For those unfamiliar, may I take a moment of your time to recommend her work.
Ms. Kalman is probably most well known for her work on The New York Times blog site. It is from this site that she compiled the observations and stories that make up her most recent works. Before that time, she worked primarily as a children’s book illustrator, but also making a known name with work in The New Yorker and as a designer.
What may be most fun about Kalman’s work is describing it. The Principles of Uncertainty, which was my introduction to her, is a volume of daily observations made simply, but with grace and elegance (“A cheeseburger deluxe, things are really deluxe around here,” she muses at a cheeseburger ordered at a diner). But whether praising the watermelon man or Goethe’s Faust, she does it with a knowledgable yet lighthearted air, allowing the reader to slow down, and appreciate on their own the occasional levity of life.
Her newest work, And the Pursuit of Happiness, is no different. I devoured and loved every page of this book. This time around, she uses her natural enthusiasm towards a more common, dedicated approach – the study of history. The book jacket features a very unique illustration of Benjamin Franklin on the cover, and on the back, a piece of pie, and the words, “History makes you hungry.” Kalman is at the inauguration of President Obama, she visits Monticello and muses on Jefferson, and dines at the Supreme Court cafeteria – giving each the time she feels, and the reader will in turn agree, they so rightfully deserve.
Kalman reminds us that there is always much to talk about, much to learn, and much to notice. And with that, I leave you to explore on your own.