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November 30, 2008

The Well-Tended Bookshelf

by Laura Miller, New York Times

As long as I have a few unread books beckoning to me from across the room, I tell myself I can always find a little more time.

How To Publish Without Perishing

by James Gleick, New York Times

Publishers may or may not figure out how to make moey again, but their product has a chance for new life: as a physical object, and as an idea, and as a set of literary forms.

We're Going To Party Like It's 1929

by Alex Williams, New York Times

"The thing about the recession is, it takes the pressure off," said David Monn, the celebrated New York event planner. "It allows you to strip away all the stuff that's not important and focus on what is: friends, family, togetherness." (And potatoes, it turns out; but more about that later.)

November 29, 2008

Exit Wounds

by Tom Bissell, New York Times

Suicide is an exploded bridge that can never be repaired. All its secondary victims can do is stare across the chasm and hope the other side is more peaceful than this one.

Holes In Our Socks

by Tim Harford, Slate

Why it's so hard to predict how bad the recession will be.

For The Naughty

by Dave Barry, Washington Post

Why do we give gifts during the holiday season? We do it for a reason that is as timeless as humanity itself: women.

The State Of Solitude

by Andrew Stark, Wall Street Journal

Pondering what it means to be alone in the modern world.

An Epic Journey In Which Science And Reason Rule

by Peter Bebergal, Boston Globe

Yes, "Anathem," Neal Stephenson's new novel is very long, coming in at more than 900 pages. Yes, it tackles philosophy, physics, religion, and mathematics. Yes, it's a daring feat of speculative fiction, playing with all the classic science-fiction tropes: futurism, first contact, high tech versus low tech, and speculations on the nature of the cosmos. And yes, it's pretty good, almost great, despite the work involved in reading it.

November 26, 2008

Betting On Mac And Cheese

by Alex Witchel, New York Times

Macaroni and cheese with Humboldt Fog, a high-end goat cheese from Northern California, is savory without being acrid, and creamy without being heavy.

The Circle Of Life With Bagels

by Mervyn Rothstein, New York Times

For Maria Balinska, it was never just bagels and yuks. "People used to laugh at me when I told them I was writing a book about bagels," she said. "I'd tell them It was actually quite serious."

Alone Together

by Jennifer Senior, New York Magazine

Manhattan is the capital of people living by themselves. But are New Yorkers lonelier? Far from it, say a new breed of lonelines researchers, who argue that urban alienation is largely a myth.

Thanksigivng? No Thanks!

by Regina Schrambling, Slate

Why food writers secretly hate the November feast.

November 25, 2008

The White Skunk

by David Ferry, Slate

Porn In A Flash

by Tracy Clark-Flory, Salon

A troubling surge in creepy "upskirt" photography has lawmakers in a twist — and the body parts of women posted all over the internet.

A Whisper, Perhaps, From The Universe's Dark Side

by Dennis Overbye, New York Times

A concatenation of puzzling results from an alphabet soup of satellites and experiments has led a growing number of astronomers and physicists to suspect that they are getting signals from a shadow universe of dark matter that makes up a quarter of creation but has eluded direct detection until now.

Across France, Cafe Owners Are Suffering

by Steven Erlanger, New York Times

The impression is that business is bad and getting worse, with people and companies cutting back on discretionary spending and entertainment budgets. And that is only compounding longer-term problems stemming from changes in how people live and growing health concerns.

November 24, 2008


by Stanley Moss, New Yorker

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

by Daniyal Mueenuddin, New Yorker

Signing Ceremony

by Clive James, New Yorker

November 23, 2008

Goodbye, Girl

by Marianne Jacobbi, Boston Globe

No piece of clothing is as cloaked in history and dreams as the wedding dress.

Irony Is Dead. Again. Yeah, Right.

by Andy Newman, New York Times

Pity poor irony. Declared dead after 9/11, it staged a strong rally beneath a "Mission Accomplished banner, only to find itself in mortal danger once again.

November 22, 2008

The (Mostly) True Story Of Helvetica And The New York City Subway

by Paul Shaw, AIGA

There is a commonly held belief that Helvetica is the signage typeface of the New York City subway syste, a belief reinforced by Helvetica, Gary Hustwit's popular 2007 documentary about the typeface. But it is not true—or rather, it is only somewhat true.

The Sitcom Digresses

by Ross Simonini, New York Times

Avant-grade literature gave America its first tradition of subverting narrative, but what was once a wild experiment in language has become an accepted counterpart to our internet culture, where digressive Googling and link-clicking are a way of life. The dustry sitcom has caught up to the modern mind.


by Michael Dirda, New York Review Of Books

Start one of his books and by page two you cannot choose but hear. While Paul Auster may not have a glittering eye, he still knows how to keep a reader spellbound.

November 21, 2008

St. Olaf Wrestles With Milton's Angel, And Prevails

by Jennifer Howard, Chronicle Of Higher Education

When Richard J. DuRocher, a professor English at St. Olaf College, in Northfield, Minn., told one of his classes that he was running a marathon, everybody cheered. Then he told them what kind of marathon: a straight-through, out-loud reading of John ilton's Paradise Lost — all 12 books of it, from Satan's fall to Adam and Eve's eviction from the Garden of Eden.

Shoe-Leather Rhapsody

by David Propson, Wall Street Journal

'Pedestrianism' as a method of discovering the world.

November 20, 2008

Siskel And Ebert And The Jugular

by Roger Ebert, Chicaco Sun-Times

At Pritikin they have a truism: "If you don't die of anything else, sooner or later you will die of caner." We all nod thoughtfully.

The Child Trap

by Joan Acocella, New Yorker

The rise of overparenting.

November 19, 2008

Omaha Beach

by Piotr Florczyk, Slate

Enceladus: Secrets Of Saturn's Strangest Moon

by Carolyn Porco, Scientific American

Wrinkled landscapes and spouting jets on Saturn's sixth-largest moon hint at underground waters.

November 17, 2008

Twelve-Year-Old's A Food Critic, And The Chef Loves It

by Susan Dominus, New York Times

Everyone's a critic, and apparntly it's never too soon to start. That's why David Fishman, an Upper West Sider who turned 12 last month, decided to take himself out for dinner one night last week.

By Meat Alone

by Calvin Trillin, New Yorker

The best Texas BBQ in the world.

The Bridgetower

by Rita Dove, New Yorker


by Edwidge Danticat, New Yorker

Master Of Disguises

by Charles Simic, New Yorker

Malcolm Gladwell's Secrets Of Success

by Louis Bayard, Salon

Bill Gates and the Beatles owe their genius to nurture not nature, argues the acclaimed "Tipping Point" author. It's a nice theory.

November 16, 2008

Enough With The Sweet Talk

by Joe Queenan, New York Times

Forget unfair negative reviews. The real problem is the unfair positive ones.

What Is Art For?

by Daniel B. Smith, New York Times

The poet, philosopher, translator and scholar Lewis Hyde has spent his life trying to figure that out — and become a literary cult figure in the process.

November 15, 2008

The Joy Of English

by Jack Shafer, New York Times

Roy Blount Jr. has returned from the fileds where the American lingo grows wild to write "Alphabet Juice," his personal lexicon, usage manual, writers' guidebook, etymological investigation and literary junk drawer.

We Blew It

by P.J. O'Rourke, Weekly Standard

Let us bend over the kiss our ass goodbye. Our 28-year conservative opportunity to fix the moral and practical boundaries of government is gone—gone with the bear market and the Bear Stearns and the bear that's headed off to do you-know-what in the woods on our philosophy.

Analogy Lesson

by Richard Thompson Ford, Slate

Racism is the wrong frame for understanding the passage of California's same-sex marriage ban.

November 12, 2008

Are Three Novels, Revised As One, A New Book?

by Charles Mcgrath, New York Times

Asked if after 30 years he finally had "Shadow Country" in the shape he wanted, Mr. Matthiessen laughted and threatened to rewrite it all over again.

Death Takes A Holiday, And Few Are Better Off

by Richard Eder, New York Times

Mr Saramago, one of the last of the old-line Communists, has written an atheist's religious parable; a story abounding in sentiment and purged of it.

Minimal Updates Until 15 Dec 2008

by Heng-Cheong Leong, MyAppleMenu

Updates will be minimal until 15 Dec 2008, due to my a) going on a holiday, b) work commitment, and c) reservist duties; not concurrently, and not necessary in that order. :-)

The Bagel: An L.A. Story

by Judith Kane Jeanson, Los Angeles Times

"Most people choose the bagel they grew up with," says Richard Friedman, and for most Southern Californians, whether they know it or not, that means the choice is bagels made either by Friedman or his oldest competitor.

Two Bucks A Dance

by Debbie Nathan, New York Magazine

In bailarina bars, you can rent a girlfriend by the song. For $40, she'll sit with you for an hour. For $500, she's yours for the evening. That's when the relationship gets complicated.

Geek Pop Star

by Jaason Zengerie, New York Magazine

Malcolm Gladwell's elegant and wildly popular theories about modern life have turned his name into an adjective—Gladwelian! But in his new book, he seeks to undercut the cult of success, including his own, by explaining how little control we have over it.

Imagine Seeing John Wayne In IMAX

by Keith Phipps, Slate

That's sort of what watching How the West Was Won is like.

November 11, 2008

When Science Fiction Morphed Into Politicis

by Dave Itzkoff, New York Times

What fans expected from Mr. Crichton wsa his honoring the unspoken understanding that exists between readers and writers and speculative fiction: the reader will suspend disbelief as long as the writer start with basic scientific fact before weaving his science fiction. With these last two novels, they concluded that Mr. Crichton, in his warnings of perilous futures, had violated the pact.

Hiroshima: The Lost Photographs

by Adam Harrison Levy, Design Observer

Devastated buildings, twisted girders, broken bridges — snapshots from an annihilated city.

November 10, 2008

All Apologies

by Henry Alford, New York Times

I have become more explicit in my acts of reverse etiquette.


by Robert Wrigley, New Yorker


by Jonathan Lethem, New Yorker

The Coffin Store

by C. K. Williams, New Yorker

Of Bibliophilia And Biblioclasm

by Theodore Dalyrmple, New English Review

The pleasure of second-hand bokshops is not only in finding what you wnat: it is in leafing through many volumes and alighting upon something that you never knew existed, that fascinates you and therefore widens your horizons in a completely unanticipated way, helping you to make sthe most unexpected connections.

November 9, 2008

Hey! How Are You? Long Time, No See. How About A Visit? Say... Jan. 20?

by Avis Thomas-Lester and Lori Aratani, Washington Post

President-elect Barack Obama hadn't left the stage at Chicago's Grant Park on Tuesday night when telephones started jingling across the Washington area. America, apparently, is looking for a place to crash.


by Alexander Aciman, New York Times

Metropolis and world capital by day, the city by night is an Art Deco treasure that exists most powerfully in detective movies of previous decades. Even in the town celebrated for insomnia and vivcity, there exists a spooky, eerie element that haunts the streets at night.

The Fall

by David Grann, New Yorker

John McCain's choices.

November 8, 2008

The Caged Bird Speaks

by Elizabeth Royte, New York Times

"Alex & Me," Irene Pepperberg's memoir of her 30-year scientific collaboration with an African gray parrot, was written for the legions of Alex's fans, the (probably) millions whose lives he and she touched with their groundbreaking work on nonhuman communication.

Holding Up The Sky

by Patrick Radden Keefe, New York Times

The emergence of China's titanic manufacturing base has been chronicled in numerous books and articles in recent years, but Leslie Chang has elected to focus not on the broader market forces at play but on the individuals, most of them women, who leave their villages and sek their fortunes on the front lines of this economy.

A Genial Explorer Of Literary Worlds

by A. O. Scott, New York Times

A single John Leonard sentence is, more often than not, an unmatchable catalog of learning, wit, enthusiasm and combativeness, and by the time Mr Leonard died on Wednesday, tose sentences surely numbered in the millions.

The End Of Vietnam In American Politics

by John Zogby, Forbes

Once again, history is not kind to the soldiers of America's least popular and most divisive war. This election may have closed the book on a Vietnam veteran ever being elected president.

Mercenary For Justice

by Robert Kolker, New York Magazine

Pro-life zealot James Kopp murdered an upstte abrotion doctor in 1998. nd he might well have escaped the FBI if not for an informant whose desire for the big reward money led him to betray a lifelong friend.

The New York Times's Lonely War

by Seth Mnookin, Vanity Fair

The Times is being whipsawed by the same economic woes battering the rest of the industry. But unlike virtually every other news organization on the planet, it has not significantly cut back on the number of staff in has on the ground in Iraq, a commitment which costs upwards of $3 million a year. "You can't cover a story only when interest peaks," says Bill Keller, the paper's executive editor. "You have to walk the beat all the time. This is so integral to what readers expect in The New York Times that if we stopped covering the war in Iraq we should just go out of business."

November 7, 2008

Laugh And Be Merry - Tomorrow We're Growing Up

by Chris Colin, New York Times

Before becoming first-time parents, a couple takes a vacation with old friends to Monte Rio, Calif., a laid-back enclave of misty redwoods in Sonoma County.

Commute Or Relocate? In Capital, An Enduring Question

by John M. Broder, New York Times

Rahm Emanuel, who will leave his family in Chicago and commute whenever he can, is the latest political appointee to face the question.

November 6, 2008

30 Years Of Dallas

by Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch, Reason Magazine

THe TV show that won the Cold War.

What Michelle Can Teach Us

by Allison Samuels, Newsweek

Forget Claire Huxtable. She could be a real-life role model for black women.

November 5, 2008

Whole Lives Summed Up Wittily And Succinctly

by Carlin Romano, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Can good writers write short?

C'mon - can fish swim?


Not Quite What I Was Planning.

It's a collection of six-word memoirs.

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Work Out

by Janet Maslin, New York Times

Stephen King's introductio explains that his new surge of short-story writing was prompted by the job of editing the 2006 volume in the Best American Short Stories series. He wondered whether he stil had the knack of miniaturiaztion and decided to find out. And simple, everyday situations became his open portals to fantasy and horror.

What Would George Bailey Do?

by Edward Rothstein, New York Times

After the events of the last century, can anyone fully believe that the state should be the ultimate standard for trust and fiscal faith? And would even a real-life George Bailey be able to coax us into confidence, let alone belief that good intentions have power over principles of finance?

November 4, 2008

Graywolf Press Is Lone Wolf In Book Publishing

by Ben Westhoff, City Pages

The publisher is a thousand miles from NYC but remains one of the best.

A Writer In A Living Novel

by Charles McGrath, New York Times

Charolyn Chute, whose fourth novel, "The School on Heart's Content Road," comes out on Firday, splits time at her rural Maine compound between writing and running her "no-wing" militia.

The End Of The Satirical Industrial Complex?

by Thomas Schaller, Salon

For the past eight years, Jon Stewart, Tina Fey and other comedians have had us laughing through our tears. If Obama wins, will the laughter die?

November 3, 2008


by Wells Tower, New Yorker


by Rae Armantrout, New Yorker

Summer At Blue Creek, North Carolina

by Jack Gilbert, New Yorker

From This To That

by Eamon Grennan, New Yorker

November 2, 2008

Busted In The Park

by Daniel Krieger, New York Times

I'd gone into the dark woods of Central Park on the well-lighted 72nd Street Park Drive an upstanding citizen, trying to reduce my carbon footprint while getting some exercise and saving a few dollars. Next thing I knew, one of New York's finest was threatening arrest, drawing me into the labyrinth of the city's criminal justice system.

Just Leave Them Behind

by Charles McGrath, New York Times

One author argues that some of us are just not college material. Another, that colleges should just stick to the basics.

The Lessons Of The Master

by Ian Buruma, New York Review Of Books

Naipaul's literary discovery of the world is marked by the way he uses his eyes and ears. These observations are filtered through a mind that is alert, never sentimental, and deeply suspicious of romantic cant.

How To Read Like A President

by Jon Meacham, New York Times

You can tell a lot about a president — or a presidential canddiate — by what he reads, or says he reads.

November 1, 2008

The Affluencer

by Susan Dominus, New York Times

Lauren Zalaznick, the head of the Bravo network, has taken her own elite, urban, downtown sensibilities and brought it into America's living rooms.

By Heng-Cheong Leong