“Looking into Prince’s eyes,” writes Hilton Als in My Pinup, “must be like looking at the world. Or more specifically, the world of one Black man loving another.” That world, and Prince’s eyes, are but two of the subjects that Als essays in this brilliant paean to the late, great, purple genius of music. Als is a master of the modern magazine profile, but here he turns the profile form inside out. An encounter with Prince prompts an oblique inventory of the writer’s own self—and of the culture that made them both, in all its racial, sexual, and emotive contours and contradictions.
Hilton Als, in his writings for The New Yorker and elsewhere, has long been an essential chronicler of our cultural scene—"arranging himself,” as his beloved Diane Arbus once put it, around artists and artworks, films and plays, images and icons, in ever-trenchant and revelatory prose.
In this special conversation about My Pinup—Als’ first New York event tied to the book—the writer will talk with Joshua Jelly-Schapiro about Prince’s outsize oeuvre and legacy; criticism as art; and how Als’ own evolving practice, as a writer and curator alike, has shaped his singular creative voice.
Special musical guests to come. Books will be available for sale.
Hilton Als has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1994, and won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 2017. He is the author of The Women and White Girls, among other books, and recently organized the acclaimed exhibition Joan Didion: What She Means, at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. He is a teaching professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and an associate professor of writing at Columbia University's School of the Arts. He lives in New York and San Francisco.
Joshua Jelly-Schapiro is Pioneer Works Director of Publishing and the Executive Editor of Pioneer Works Broadcast. He is the author of Names of New York and Island People, among other books, and contributes regularly to publications including The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, and The New York Times. He teaches at NYU.
This program is part of PW Broadcast's Author Talks, a series highlighting authors and thinkers across disciplines.