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Monday, August 31, 2009

Distant Relations

Orhan Pamuk, New Yorker

The series of events and coincidences that would change my entire life began on April 27, 1975, when Sibel happened to spot a purse designed by the famous Jenny Colon in a shopwindow as we were walking along Valikonagi Avenue, enjoying the cool spring evening. Tweet


John Ashbery, New Yorker Tweet

The Game

Bruce Smith, New Yorker Tweet

When Science & Poetry Were Friends

Freeman Dyson, The New York Review Of Books

The scientists of that age were as Romantic as the poets. The scientific discoveries were as unexpected and intoxicating as the poems. Many of the poets were intensely interested in science, and many of the scientists in poetry. Tweet

Love And Lies

Michael Pollan, Photograph by Christian Ziegler, National Geographic

How do you spread your genes around when you're stuck in one place? By tricking animals, including us, into falling in love. Tweet

The Curious Appeal Of Miscellanea

Tom Scocca, Boston Globe

Or, why we’ll pay for information, but only if it’s completely irrelevant. Tweet

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Eyes Wide Open

Jonathan Lethem, New York Times

If American fiction writers largely find themselves sorted tediously into the category of “natural” at either the short or the long form, regardless of the extent of their commitment to both, then Lorrie Moore — justly celebrated for her three story collections — has surely been counted as a miniaturist. This book should spell the end of that. Tweet

So You Want To Write A Presidential Biography

Ben Schwartz, The Atlantic

The easy path to fame and riches as an author. Just follow my formula. Tweet

A Family's Hold On Our Landscape

Joel Achenbach, Washington Post

Younger people might not understand why such a fuss has been made over a man who ran for president 30 years ago. It is hard to explain the Kennedy mystique to anyone who never experienced the tumult of the 1960s. Tweet

Good Books Don't Have to Be Hard

Lev Grossman, Wall Street Journal

Where did this conspiracy come from in the first place—the plot against plot? I blame the Modernists. Who were, I grant you, the single greatest crop of writers the novel has ever seen. Tweet

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Reading By The Numbers

Susan Straight, New York Times

That constant drive for data is all too typical in the age of No Child Left Behind, helping to replace a freely discovered love of language and story with a more rigid way of reading. Tweet

Don't Buy Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Regina Schrambling, Slate

You will never cook from it. Tweet

Death Of A Ladies Man

Darran Anderson, 3 AM

Brighton’s West Pier is burning down. A sex offender dressed as Satan is on the loose. Kylie Minogue’s gold hot-pants are insured for more than the Turin shroud. The end, my friends, is nigh. Tweet

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Status Of The P Versus NP Problem

Lance Fortnow, Communications Of The ACM

It's one of the fundamental mathematical problems of our time, and its importance grows with the rise of powerful computers. Tweet

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Literature Is Due A New Era Of Sexual Modesty

Alan Bissett, Guardian

After Wetlands and Snuff, there are no boundaries left to push. Time to head in the opposite direction? Tweet

The Unlikely Writer

Elizabeth Gudrais, Harvard Magazine

Atul Gawande, “slightly bewildered” surgeon and health-policy scholar—and a literary voice of medicine. Tweet

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Santiago, Pluperfect

Lance Larsen, Slate Tweet

Laugh, Kookaburra

David Sedaris, New Yorker

A day in the bush, a night at home. Tweet

Monday, August 24, 2009

The House

Richard Wilbur, New Yorker Tweet


Richard Wilbur, New Yorker Tweet

A Reckoning

Richard Wilbur, New Yorker Tweet

The Fountain House

Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, New Yorker

There once lived a girl who was killed, then brought back to life. That is, her parents were told that she was dead, but they weren’t allowed to keep her body. (The family had been riding the bus together; the girl was standing up front at the time of the explosion, and her parents were sitting behind her.) The girl was just fifteen, and she was thrown backward by the blast. Tweet

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Finally ‘Thirtysomething’?

Porochista Khakpour, New York Times

In this second-chance viewing as a thirtysomething, I am amazed and inspired by all the everything-in-between, all the nothing-happening, all the ambivalence and the stagnation. Tweet

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dream of a Common Language. Sueño de un Idioma Común.

Nate Blakeslee, Texas Monthly

The graduates of a radical bilingual education program at Alicia R. Chacón International, in El Paso, would have no trouble reading either of these headlines. What can they teach the rest of us about the future of Texas? Tweet

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Blood, Sweat, And Words

Joseph Epstein, In Character

To be able to sit home and put words together in what one hopes are charming or otherwise striking sentences is, no matter how much tussle may be involved, lucky work, a privileged job. The only true grit connected with it ought to arrive when, thinking to complain about how hard it is to write, one is smart enough to shut up and silently grit one’s teeth. Tweet

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

To Read

Michael McFee, Slate Tweet

Monday, August 17, 2009

Is It Time To Burn This Book?

Sarah Boxer, Slate Magazine

When Fahrenheit 451 becomes a comic book, it's time to worry. Tweet

Epithalamium NYC

Anne Carson, New Yorker Tweet

The Wind Blows Through The Doors Of My Heart

Deborah Digges, New Yorker Tweet

If A Clown

Stephen Dunn, New Yorker Tweet

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Poetry In Motion

Danny Heitman, New York Times

It seems that we’ve done just about everything to get the American auto industry out of the doldrums. We’ve forced bankruptcies. We’ve exchanged cash for clunkers. But have we tried poetry? Tweet

They Seem To Find The Happiness They Seek

Alastair Macaulay, New York Times

When people fall in love, they opt for an experience that others have had before. Very often that’s what they have in mind: they would like to share some of what happened to Romeo and Juliet, or Lizzy and Darcy or maybe just their parents. One of those archetypes of romance was born 75 years ago, with the release of “The Gay Divorcee,” starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Tweet

Saturday, August 15, 2009

To Be Old And In Woodstock

Gail Collins, New York Times

The lesson I took away from it is that whenever anybody asks you to do something off the wall, you should really try to do it — unless it involves being unethical or a two-plane connection. You might not enjoy it while it’s going on, but somewhere down the line the anecdotes will always come in handy. Tweet

It's Time To Hand Out Emergency Poetry Relief

Nicholas Lezard, Guardian

University Challenge shows British literacy is in critical condition. But Hugo Chávez has an idea that could help us. Tweet

Friday, August 14, 2009

Whose Side Of The Road Are You On?

Tom Vanderbilt, Salon

For the first time in ages, a country is switching to driving on the left. Should we all drive on the same side? Tweet

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Decade Later, The Iron Giant’s Weaponized Soul Still Stirs

Scott Thill, Wired

So happy birthday, Iron Giant. Thanks for reminding us that heroism comes in many forms. And that it doesn’t come from a gun at all, but instead from a machine with its synthetic brain and heart fully charged. Tweet

The Mars Menu: This Is Not Buzz Aldrin's Astronaut Food

Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times

NASA must provide the crew with some 20,000 meals -- light, with a shelf life of five years. Scientists are experimenting with packaging and preservation, but so far, mac and cheese is out. Tweet

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Julie, Julia And Me: Now It Can Be Told

Russ Parsons, Los Angeles Times

At a certain point in the wonderful new movie "Julie & Julia," there is a plot twist so shocking the audience gasps. Julia Child does something that seems so totally out of character that even on the way out, people were still shaking their heads. "How could she?" Well, that's one mystery I can solve. I was right there in the middle of it. Tweet

Bringing Down The Dogmen

Skip Hollandsworth, Texas Monthly

How a pair of undercover cops infiltrated the secret world of Houston dogfighting. Tweet

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

At The Dance

Louise Glück, Slate Magazine Tweet

The Lost Art Of Reading

David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times

The relentless cacophony that is life in the 21st century can make settling in with a book difficult even for lifelong readers and those who are paid to do it. Tweet

Reviving The Lost Art Of Naming The World

Carol Kaesuk Yoon, New York Times

Outside taxonomy, no one is much up in arms about this, but perhaps we should be, because the ordering and naming of life is no esoteric science. Tweet

Monday, August 10, 2009

Breakfast Can Wait. The Day’s First Stop Is Online.

Brad Stone, New York Times

Karl and Dorsey Gude of East Lansing, Mich., can remember simpler mornings, not too long ago. They sat together and chatted as they ate breakfast. They read the newspaper and competed only with the television for the attention of their two teenage sons.

That was so last century. Tweet

Saturday, August 8, 2009

What’s A Big City Without A Newspaper?

Michael Sokolove, New York Times

On a recent trip into Philadelphia, after I exited the Interstate and coasted to a stop at the first traffic light, a man walked up to my car. He wore a black apron with a change pouch and held aloft a copy of The Philadelphia Daily News, the city’s tart, irreverent tabloid. It gave me a warm feeling. Of course it did! I’m a newspaper guy. I worked as a reporter for The Daily News in the 1980s, and later for what we called “big sister,” the sober, broadsheet Philadelphia Inquirer. Even in better times, I would have been happy to see the product being hawked, but these days any small sign of life in the newspaper industry, even just the sight of someone reading a paper, feels positively uplifting. I handed over 75 cents for my Daily News, then drove on toward the center of the city — and U.S. Bankruptcy Court, where a hearing was soon to begin, part of an ongoing process that will determine the fate of the city’s newspapers. Tweet

Friday, August 7, 2009

Sincerely, John Hughes

Alison Byrne Fields, We'll Know When We Get There

Thank you, John Hughes. I love you for what you did to make me who I am. Tweet

The Gathering Dark Age

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Some weeks ago I went so far as to suggest the gap between some critics and some moviegoers may be because the critics are more "evolved." Man, did the wrath hit the fan. I was clearly an elitist snob. But think about it. Wouldn't you expect a critic to be more highly evolved in taste than a fanboy zealot? Tweet

Will Marcus Brauchli Please Grow A Spine?

Jack Shafer, Slate Magazine

The Washington Post executive editor grovels before the paper's critics in the Mad Bitch controversy. Tweet

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Secret Is Out: We Can See Your Feet

Catherine Saint Louis, New York Times

A midsummer's confession: when it comes to skin, I discriminate. I wish I treated my feet with the same tender loving care as I do my face. But I don’t. Not even close. Tweet

Wilder Women

Judith Thurman, New Yorker

The mother and daughter behind the Little House stories. Tweet

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How God Propelled Stephen Hawking Into The Bestsellers Lists

by Tim Radford, Guardian

There, that's my thesis. Profound theme, good narrative style, great title and accidentally perfect timing, plus a bit of divine help and of course a lot of media attention. Those are the initial conditions for a bestseller, certainly, but nine million copies? That's the real puzzle. Anyone got a better idea? Tweet

Inside The Mayor's Studio: NYC-TV's Secrets Of New York

by Tom Robbins, Village Voice

The many scams of Bloomberg's hip TV execs. Tweet

Make That a Double Shot

by Michael Idov, Slate

I turned my disastrous experience of opening a cafe into a novel. Tweet

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Same-Old, Same-Old

by Robert Pinsky, Slate

Alexander Pope's "Epistle" and the art of making poetry from normal, banal, petty life. Tweet

At Louvre, Many Stop To Snap But Few Stay To Focus

by Michael Kimmelman, New York Times

Spending an idle morning watching people look at art is hardly a scientific experiment, but it rekindles a perennial question: What exactly are we looking for when we roam as tourists around museums? As with so many things right in front of us, the answer may be no less useful for being familiar. Tweet

Monday, August 3, 2009

War Dances

by Sherman Alexie, New Yorker Tweet


by Sharon Olds, New Yorker Tweet

Fool’s Errands

by Kay Ryan, New Yorker Tweet


by David Harsent, New Yorker Tweet

The Courthouse Ring

by Malcolm Gladwell, New Yorker

Atticus Finch and the limits of Southern liberalism. Tweet

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Appointments With Death

by Stephen White, New York Times

“You know about them, right?” She allowed me barely a second to reply before she added, “Come on.” She punctuated the plea with a hurried sigh, a little huff that I found more plaintive than insistent. “Don’t play opaque shrink with me, please. I don’t have ... time. Just tell me you know about them.” Tweet

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Groove Is In The Heart

by Cathy Alter, Washington Post

Dancing was once my raison d'être. So why had I stopped? Tweet

By Heng-Cheong Leong