Saturday, 25 October 2014
Sara Paretsky, New York Times
Lucy Worsley’s lively book, “The Art of the English Murder,” traces the growth of this industry through some of the era’s most avidly followed killings. Her goal isn’t to provide a history of crime or crime writing, but to show how “the British enjoyed and consumed the idea of murder.”
Patrick McGrath, New York Times
Close to the end of Roger Clarke’s “Ghosts: A Natural History,” the author mentions “silent phone calls from people who have been buried with their phone in their coffin.” Who are these people? He doesn’t say, but he claims there’s a whole genre of “apparently true” mobile phone ghost stories, including “texts from the dead.” There are even haunted spell-checks. When the name “Prudentia” was highlighted on a document during a 1998 investigation in Britain, the alternative spellings that reportedly came up were “dead,” “buried” and “cellar.” We’re not told if investigators dug up the cellar, and if they did, whether they found Prudentia.
Julia Carrie Wong, New Yorker
The problem was that the two groups were following different sets of rules—one established by tradition and cultural norms, the other by city regulations. The city’s rules favor those with twenty-seven dollars to spare and either a credit card (phone reservations require a Visa or Mastercard) or the ability to go to the department’s office (a lengthy bus ride). The neighborhood’s rules favor those who’ve been around long enough to know how the pickup system works.
Friday, 24 October 2014
Rachel Manteuffel, Washington Post
Women’s bodies are almost never a punchline the way men’s can be. For better or worse, there is a cultural seriousness to female nudity. And when women act sexy, at best they are setups for punchlines: Meg Ryan’s extended fauxgasm in “When Harry Met Sally” wasn’t the joke; it was the tension-building prelude . “I’ll have what she’s having” was the joke.
Adam Lewis, The Guardian
Mark Twain, F Scott Fitzgerald and James Joyce all did it. (HW Fowler disapproved.) Should ‘literally’ be used to mean its opposite?
Elliott Kalan, Slate
My childhood fantasies of New York involved eating takeout Chinese food after a grueling day at the office.
Latif Nasser, Boston Globe
So far, the world’s attention has rightly focused on how much these places have to lose: their homes, their communities, their cultures, their vistas. But these countries have another, less visible set of assets at stake as they consider their survival—assets that won’t necessarily be lost, but which raise substantial questions. These are their large and valuable maritime zones.
Thursday, 23 October 2014
Laura Miller, The Guardian
Moriarty is a sound mystery novel, with traps, disguises and a good if not exactly unprecedented twist, but whether it scratches the Holmesian itch is another matter.
Wednesday, 22 October 2014
Ian Crouch, New Yorker
Each time that “S.N.L.” brings in a new cast, or suffers a drop in the ratings, or else detaches from the zeitgeist, we forget all of the changes that have allowed it to stay on the air for forty seasons.
Mark C. Taylor, The Chronicle Of Higher Education
During the era Thorstein Veblen so vividly described in The Theory of the Leisure Class, social status was measured by how little a person worked; today it is often measured by how much a person works. If you are not constantly connected, you are unimportant; if you willingly unplug to recuperate, play, or even do nothing, you become an expendable slacker. - See more at: http://m.chronicle.com/article/Speed-Kills/149401/#sthash.ug5iDEwL.dpuf
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
Brooke Hauser, The Millions
As Dunham continues her book tour, I hope someone raises the question that Helen’s cousin asked her all those years ago. Do you believe everything you wrote?
Who knows how she would answer . . . But no one can accuse her of not talking about how lonely it can be.
Jim Holt, Lapham's Quarterly
Does time have a future? Yes, but how much of a future depends on what the ultimate fate of the cosmos turns out to be.
Monday, 20 October 2014
Philip French, The Guardian
Chinese uber-villain Fu Manchu reflected the jingoism of British culture in the early 20th century.
Sunday, 19 October 2014
Daniel Dennett, Prospect
What people don’t like, apparently, is the idea, borne in on them every day as science marches through their genetics and into their brains, that a person is merely a slub in the fabric of the universe, no more than a complicated and clever bulge amid the threads of causation, rather than a free-wheeling, free-choosing, autonomous, responsible initiator of deeds. How could such a mechanistic consolidation-station be the locus of moral authorship? (Warning bells should ring in the reader’s mind at this point. Note the weaknesses in the previous two sentences: a case of “rathering”—why couldn’t we be both enmeshed in causation and an autonomous chooser?—and a rhetorical question that discourages us from seeking an answer.)
Michel Faber, The Scotsman
And that’s where I’ll leave it, a novel so full of ideas, so charged by plot, so odd and wonderful, and written with astonishing emotional precision.
Kathleen Hale, The Guardian
At the bottom of the page, Goodreads had issued the following directive (if you are signed in as an author, it appears after every bad review of a book you’ve written): “We really, really (really!) don’t think you should comment on this review, even to thank the reviewer. If you think this review is against our Review Guidelines, please flag it to bring it to our attention. Keep in mind that if this is a review of the book, even one including factual errors, we generally will not remove it.
“If you still feel you must leave a comment, click ‘Accept and Continue’ below to proceed (but again, we don’t recommend it).”
I would soon learn why.