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Monday, November 30, 2009

Poem Of The Week: Gascoigne's Lullaby By George Gascoigne

Carol Rumens, The Guardian Tweet

Young Man Picking Flowers

W. S. Merwin, New Yorker Tweet

The Use Of Poetry

Ian McEwan, New Yorker Tweet

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Beyond Borders: The Future Of Bookselling

Rachel Cooke, The Guardian

Borders has gone belly-up, Amazon thrives, and doom-mongers are proclaiming the death of literature on the high street. But this could be the opening of a fine new chapter… Tweet

(Fish) (Delicious)

Lora Zarubin, Los Angeles Times

In a city where even supermarkets offer sushi, we try to make sense of our obsession. Tweet

Walking Into The Earth’s Heart: The Grand Canyon

Henry Shukman, New York Times

“I have heard rumors of visitors who were disappointed,” J. B. Priestley once said of the Grand Canyon. “The same people will be disappointed at the Day of Judgment.” Tweet

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Please Mr. Postman

Stacy Schiff, New York Times

This meditation on the art of letter-writing embraces old friends — Flaubert, Freud, the Mitfords — and plenty of unknowns. Tweet

Battling The Skeptics

Darshak Sanghavi, New York Times

Michael Specter takes on those he sees as denying science, from promoters of alternative medicines to anti-vaccine zealots. Tweet

Friday, November 27, 2009

It Themes Somehow Familiar

Matt Gaffney, Slate Magazine

How could two crossword constructors come up with puzzles that are almost exactly alike? Tweet

A Professionally Funny Family

Ed Zuckerman, New York Times

The Elliott family has been professionally funny for three generations. Does it matter that audiences don’t always get the joke? Tweet

The Latest Entrepreneurial Fantasy Is Selling Cupcakes

Elizabeth Olson, New York Times

Move over restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts. A new fantasy seems to have taken hold for people who long to own their own business: the cupcakery. Tweet

The Lion And The Tiger

David Edmonds, Prospect

Armenia excels at chess. Its top player now has a shot at becoming world champion. How did this tiny country become a giant at the game? Tweet

The Flowers Of Evil

Charles Baudelaire, translated by Will Stone, 3:AM Magazine Tweet

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Big Muslim Problem!

Malise Ruthven, The New York Review of Books

The picture Caldwell paints is complex, paradoxical, and sometimes at variance with the anti-immigration thrust of his argument. Tweet

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

In Italy, Eating Gets Graded

Lesley Freeman Riva, The Atlantic

The day my daughter's kindergarten teacher called me into her Italian classroom to tell me my child was failing lunch, I knew I had run up against the great continental culinary divide. Tweet

What's The Recipe?

Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker

Our hunger for cookbooks. Tweet

A Moveable Fast

Elyssa East, New York Times

“It’s Thanksgiving — time to put our feedbags on,” my family likes to say as we elbow for room next to the Pilgrim and Puritan ghosts the holiday summons to our table. Our colonial forebears probably would not disapprove of our having second and third helpings of sweet potatoes and stuffing, or even rushing off to watch football after the meal — the Pilgrims themselves played lots of games at that first Thanksgiving in 1621. But I imagine they would find fault with our binge for another reason: it is not accompanied by a fast. Tweet

The Remains Of The Day

Jane Sigal, New York Times

Sue Maden was peeling and slicing apples for the double-crusted pie she planned to take as her contribution to dinner at a friend’s house, but a worry was nagging her. “Do I have to confess that I bought the pie crusts already made and rolled up?” she asked.

Ms. Maden is just not that interested in cooking, she admitted. Yet she hosts an annual dinner party that is one of the most sought-after invitations in Jamestown, R.I., a small island town (around 5,000 people and one traffic light) in Narragansett Bay. For the last 10 years, she has held a Thanksgiving leftovers potluck on the Saturday after the holiday. Tweet

Should Serial Novels Be Continued?

Stephen Emms, The Guardian

Out of sync with print-based reading habits, this form is nonetheless perfectly in tune with the web. Tweet

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Rosanna Warren, Slate Magazine Tweet

Why A Good Cover Makes A Good Book Better

Wayne Gooderham, The Guardian

Call me shallow (actually, please don't) but I think a good cover can be a significant component of a good read. Tweet

36 Arguments For The Existence Of God

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, Edge

Here it is then: the sense that existence is just such a tremendous thing, one comes into it, astonishingly, here one is, formed by biology and history, genes and culture, in the midst of the contingency of the world, here one is, one doesn't know how, one doesn't know why, and suddenly one doesn't know where one is either or who or what one is either, and all that one knows is that one is a part of it, a considered and conscious part of it, generated and sustained in existence in ways one can hardly comprehend, all the time conscious of it, though, of existence, the fullness of it, the reaching expanse and pulsing intricacy of it, and one wants to live in a way that at least begins to do justice to it, one wants to expand one's reach of it as far as expansion is possible and even beyond that, to live one's life in a way commensurate with the privilege of being a part of and conscious of the whole reeling glorious infinite sweep, a sweep that includes, so improbably, a psychologist of religion named Cass Seltzer, who, moved by powers beyond himself, did something more improbable than all the improbabilities constituting his improbable existence could have entailed, did something that won him someone else's life, a better life, a more brilliant life, a life beyond all the ones he had wished for in the pounding obscurity of all his yearnings, because all of this, this, this, THIS couldn't belong to him, to the man who stands on Weeks Bridge, wrapped round in a scarf his once-beloved ex-wife Pascale had knit for him for some necessary reason that he would never know, perhaps to offer him some protection against the desolation she knew would soon be his, and was, but is no longer, suspended here above sublimity, his cheeks aflame with either euphoria or frostbite, a letter in his zippered pocket with the imprimatur of Veritas and a Lucinda Mandelbaum with whom to share it all. Tweet

They Died, And Lived To Tell All About It

Abigail Zuger, New York Times

When the moment came to unplug the corpse from its charger and plug in its immensely expensive replacement — executioner, stay your hand: Look who’s waking up! Tweet

Warhol Inc.

Eileen Kinsella, ARTnews

Two decades after the artist’s death, the Andy Warhol brand is stronger than ever, as collectors continue to pay top prices for his work, curators study obscure aspects of his career, and consumers snap up products—from candy to condoms—plastered with his imagery. Tweet

Monday, November 23, 2009

Poem Of The Week: Reconstruction By Zoë Skoulding

Carol Rumens, The Guardian Tweet


Sarah Arvio, New Yorker Tweet

The Big Sleep

Philip Schultz, New Yorker Tweet

Midnight In Dostoevsky

Don DeLillo, New Yorker

We were two sombre boys hunched in our coats, grim winter settling in. The college was at the edge of a small town way upstate, barely a town, maybe a hamlet, we said, or just a whistle stop, and we took walks all the time, getting out, going nowhere, low skies and bare trees, hardly a soul to be seen. This was how we spoke of the local people: they were souls, they were transient spirits, a face in the window of a passing car, runny with reflected light, or a long street with a shovel jutting from a snowbank, no one in sight. Tweet

Shallow Graves

James Wood, New Yorker

The novels of Paul Auster. Tweet

Sunday, November 22, 2009

How To Be A Better Diner

Tom Sietsema, Washington Post

There are countless ways customers can endear themselves to restaurants. Inviting a clown to a four-star establishment is not one of them. Tweet

Raymond Carver’s Life And Stories

Stephen King, New York Times

Raymond Carver, surely the most influential writer of American short stories in the second half of the 20th century, makes an early appearance in Carol Sklenicka’s exhaustive and sometimes exhausting biography as a 3- or 4-year-old on a leash. “Well, of course I had to keep him on a leash,” his mother, Ella Carver, said much later — and seemingly without irony. Tweet

Liberty, Equality, Gastronomy: Paris Via A 19th-Century Guide

Tony Perrottet, New York Times

A food-obsessed traveler uses the Zagat guide of the Napoleonic era to explore the culinary wonders of this city in the 21st century. Tweet

The Sci-Fi Legends Who Shaped Today's Tech

Stuart Andrews, PC Pro

Science fiction has long inspired real-world technology, but have the authors of sci-fi stories finally run out of steam? Tweet

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Shape Of Emotion

Jonathan Jones, The Guardian

Donatello was the first genius of the Renaissance, but his raw, expressive work also challenges all our assumptions about the period. He is justly the star of the V&A's triumphant new galleries. Tweet

A Place in Time, Not All Frozen

Diana Bletter, New York Times

The temperature was soaring to 75 degrees, and I was walking on ice. Around me the Matanuska Glacier, about 100 miles from Anchorage, sparkled and shimmered in the afternoon sun. The only sound was an occasional rush of cool wind sweeping down from the towering Chugach Mountains and the crunch of my crampons as I made my way up a crevasse with a group of six other trekkers. Tweet

Hot Pot's Top Spot

Daniel Gross, Slate Magazine

What a meal of beef stomach and duck throats taught me about the new China. Tweet

Friday, November 20, 2009

Ben-Hur: The Book That Shook the World

Amy Lifson, Humanities

Since its first publication, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ has never been out of print. It outsold every book except the Bible until Gone With the Wind came out in 1936, and resurged to the top of the list again in the 1960s. By 1900 it had been printed in thirty-six English-language editions and translated into twenty others, including Indonesian and Braille. Tweet

How Will Religion Evolve?

John Tierney, New York Times

Does religion have a future? Who looks more like an evolutionary dead end: the religious American or the agnostic European? Or will both give way to some sort of compromise — people bound by new institutions that provide the social benefits of religion without belief in a traditional deity? Tweet

Never Mind The Bad Sex Award – Where's The Good Sex In Fiction?

Sarah Duncan, The Guardian

As someone who works hard to get it right in my own novels, I'm very aware of just how difficult it is to depict well. Tweet

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Who Knew I Was Not The Father?

Ruth Padawer, New York Times

DNA testing has led more men to discover that their children are not biologically theirs. Families are being upended, and so is the law. Tweet

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why Economists Love To Study Cellphone Pricing

Saul Hansell, New York Times

Have I tragically underestimated the ability of foreign cellphone companies to come up with devilishly complex pricing plans and the skill of economists to convert those schemes into pat theories that can be illustrated with neat charts and graphs? Tweet

And The (Antisocial) Word Of The Year Is ...

Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon

I've done it lots of times. You've probably done it as well. Maybe you've even done it to me. People rarely own up to it, but it happens all time. That's why it's the New Oxford American Dictionary word of the year: "unfriend." Tweet

Flag Football

Michael Oriard, Slate Magazine

How the NFL became the American war game. Tweet

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Ellen Wehle, Slate Magazine Tweet

The Dream Of The Great Unfinished Novel

Wayne Gooderham, The Guardian

Nabokov didn't finish The Original of Laura, so we'll never know how good it might have been – and that's the key to its tantalising appeal. Tweet

The Evolution Of The God Gene

Nicholas Wade, New York Times

New research is pointing to a new perspective on religion, one that seeks to explain why religious behavior has occurred in societies at every stage of development. Tweet

Bring Back The Traditional Bookshop

Stuart Walton, The Guardian

No more lounging in Waterstone's or browsing in Borders – turn over an old leaf with the starchy, strait-laced booksellers of old. Tweet

Monday, November 16, 2009

Poem Of The Week: Stone Poems By Douglas Skrief

Carol Rumens, Guardian

Skrief's nature poems sidestep the 'egotistical sublime' by allowing nature to speak. Tweet

Indianapolis (Highway 74)

Sam Shepard, New Yorker Tweet

Sad Verso Of The Sunny ____

Liz Waldner, New Yorker Tweet


James Longenbach, New Yorker Tweet

Presence Of Mind

Michael Wood, London Review Of Books

Roland Barthes died almost 30 years ago, on 26 March 1980, but his works continue to engage new and old readers with remarkable consistency.

The persistence of Barthes’s reputation might seem surprising, since his writing is so varied, topical, at times wilfully ephemeral. He was suspicious of monuments – ‘tombs die too,’ he says in a fine phrase in his mourning notes – and didn’t want to be one. He wrote with amusement, and without false modesty, about his own passing ‘notoriety’. But then the surprise lasts only as long as we are not thinking very hard. Monuments may or may not endure, but they are not looked at very closely; and fragile-seeming gestures, songs, jokes, metaphors, teasing sentences, often have long lives in the intimacy of many minds. It’s easy, and usually rash, to use the word ‘unforgettable’, or even ‘memorable’, since we can forget anything. But then what we hang on to becomes all the more remarkable, and Barthes, like Cole Porter, was the author of phrases and rhythms that for some of us will not go away until we do. Tweet

Linguistic Currency

Ange Mlinko, The Nation

The equivalence between English and wealth is much more than a metaphor, actually. Tweet

How Memoirs Took Over The Literary World

Laura Miller, Salon

Has the memoir become the "central form" of our culture, as Ben Yagoda insists in his breezy new consideration of the form, "Memoir: A History"? Do I detect hackles rising from coast to coast at the mere suggestion? Tweet

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Cheating Game

Robert Pinsky, New York Times

Near the outset of his copious, lively account of poker’s past and present, “Cowboys Full,” James McManus describes the game, and the qualities it demands, as characteristically American. As the American game, he says, poker combines two contrasting strands in our national character, “the risk-averse Puritan work ethic and the entrepreneur’s urge to seize the main chance.” Tweet

Invisible By Paul Auster

Joanna Briscoe, Guardian

Paul Auster has created what amounts to his own, self-referential fictional world over the years, and Invisible is packed with typical Auster tropes. This is his 13th novel, and at times he seems to be both celebrating and lightly mocking his own oeuvre. There is the oddly detached male narrator roaming New York; a random dramatic incident that alters the course of a life; ruminations on the nature of writing, language and identity; multiple narrators; stories within stories; and general intertextual gadding about. And, as ever, fragments of Auster himself seem to feature – in this case, divided into two characters. Tweet

Lost In The Waves

Justin Heckert, Men's Journal

Swept out to sea by a riptide, a father and his 12-year-old son struggle to stay alive miles from shore. As night falls, with no rescue imminent, the dad comes to a devastating realization: If they remain together, they’ll drown together. Tweet

Friday, November 13, 2009

Screen Memories

A. O. Scott, New York Times

Perhaps the easiest and most satisfying way to make sense of the unruly cinematic abundance of the past 10 years is to sift through it for masters and masterpieces, kicking the tires to see what has been built to last. Whatever else was going on, a handful of great filmmakers made a handful of great films, just as in other decades. Tweet

Axler's Theater

Elaine Blair, The New York Review of Books

One of the rare funny moments in Philip Roth's recent novel Everyman (2006) takes place when the unnamed hero visits his parents' graves in Newark. His health has been poor, his colleagues and friends have been dying, and though he has no reason to think that his own death is imminent, he can no longer pretend to himself that he will never die. In this frame of mind, he finds himself talking to the buried bones of his parents. "I'm seventy-one, your boy is seventy-one," he tells them. In his mind, he hears his mother reply: "Good. You lived." Tweet

The Misuses Of Darwin

Simon Underdown, Guardian

The idea that Darwin is to blame for high school massacres and far-right politics is a huge intellectual mistake. Tweet

Facing Down the Fanatics

Michael Finkel, National Geographic Magazine

A more tolerant Islam is confronting extremism in the world's most populous Muslim country.


Big Idea: Origami

National Geographic Magazine

Anything can be made with origami—from birds and bugs to stents and space telescopes. It's just a matter of math.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Don't Patronise Popular Fiction By Women

Harriet Evans, Guardian

I'm fed up with seeing some of our best novelists written off as 'chick lit' – you don't see the same belittling line taken with male writers. Tweet

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why Writers Define The First World War

Alastair Harper, Guardian

As well as its other horrific innovations, this was the first occasion when those in the firing line could record their experiences. Tweet

Science Fiction's Realist

Alison Flood, Guardian

As his publisher Jane Johnson, an author herself, puts the finishing touches to a roast chicken in the kitchen, Kim Stanley Robinson – Stan – tries to explain his new theory of time travel, worked out for his latest novel, Galileo's Dream. Tweet

United Tastes: Saving New Orleans Culture, One Sandwich At A Time

John T. Edge, New York Times

This month, New Orleans is having a party for the po’ boy, the city’s signature — and some say endangered — sandwich. Tweet

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Daily Threads

Wyn Cooper, Slate Magazine Tweet

Three Anniversaries

Michael Lind, Salon

The fall of the Berlin Wall, 9/11 and the collapse of Lehman Brothers: Each ushered in a new American era. Tweet

Green Giants By Tim McKeough

Tim McKeough, The Walrus

How urban planners are turning industrial eyesores into popular public spaces. Tweet

Monday, November 9, 2009

Poem Of The Week: Our Be'thplace By William Barnes

Carol Rumens, Guardian Tweet


Yiyun Li, New Yorker

When the waitress came to take the order, she asked how Suchen was doing with the smoke. Suchen replied vaguely that all was well with her, though she had no idea what smoke the waitress was talking about. The man sitting at the next table, an elbow away—the patio was barely large enough for the six tables it held, three of them unoccupied—must have been observing the exchange; he leaned over after the waitress had left and explained that up north the wildfire was just a few miles from the state highway. Tweet

The Burglary

Linda Pastan, New Yorker Tweet


Dave Smith, New Yorker Tweet

Little Darlings

Amanda Fortini, Salon

Inside the elaborate, disturbing and downright riveting world of child-beauty pageants. Tweet

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Can Modern Dance Be Preserved?

Arthur Lubow, New York Times

Unlike drama and music, which also unfold in time, dance is not dictated by a written script or score. Although choreographers may sketch out a work for themselves with notes, dance is still taught primarily by one dancer to another, “body to body,” as the saying goes, the way the arts were transmitted in ancient cultures. A sculptor’s blocks of stone or a painter’s pigments are paragons of stability compared to the human clay that the choreographer molds. Tweet

Stephen King’s Glass ­Menagerie

James Parker, New York Times

Now that the town halls have blazed with vituperation, and fantastical patriots are girding themselves for fascist/socialist lockdown, Americans of a certain vintage must be feeling a familiar circumambient thrill. Boomers, you know what I’m talking about: cranks empowered, strange throes and upthrusts, hyperbolic placards brandished in the streets — it’s the ’60s all over again! Once more the air turns interrogative: something’s happening here, but we don’t know what it is, do we, Mr. Jones? Stop, children, what’s that sound? Tweet

Is Technology Dumbing Down Japanese?

Emily Parker, New York Times

Now the Japanese language is being transformed by blogs, e-mail and keitai shosetsu, or cellphone novels. Americans may fret over the ways digital communications encourage sloppy grammar and spelling, but in Japan these changes are much more wrenching. A vertically written language seems to be becoming increasingly horizontal. Novels are being written and read on little screens. People have gotten so used to typing on computers that they can no longer write characters by hand. And English words continue to infiltrate the language. Tweet

Clive James Isn't A Climate Change Sceptic, He's A Sucker - But This May Be The Reason

George Monbiot, Guardian

My fiercest opponents on global warming tend to be in their 60s and 70s. This offers a fascinating, if chilling, insight into human psychology. Tweet

Four Poems

Will Stone, 3:AM Magazine Tweet

Penguin Flogs It (And Sells Some Books)

Anthony Cummins, Guardian

What's the most depressing piece of Penguin merchandising? Notebooks featuring the classic covers of much-loved titles that cost more than the novels themselves. Tweet

The Internet Is Killing Storytelling

Ben Macintyre, The Times

Narratives are a staple of every culture the world over. They are disappearing in an online blizzard of tiny bytes of information. Tweet

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Life And Death Of The Death Of God

Nathan Schneider, Obit

It was a recipe for the easiest headline ever: "Death of God Guy Dies." John T. Elson, who passed away on Sept. 7, was a journalist best known for penning the story behind Time magazine’s wildly controversial cover in April 1966, which asked, in bold red letters over a black backdrop, "Is God Dead?" The issue became one of the best selling in the magazine's history and sent American religion spiraling into an identity crisis.

Maybe now, goes the obvious punch line, Elson can tell us the answer. Tweet

A Dream Home Undone By Divorce

Penelope Green, New York Times

Welcome to home interrupted, Leslie Williams said, opening the door to what appeared to be just the opposite: a bright TriBeCa loft with near-lapidary finishes. Tweet

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Promises, Promises

Stuart Blackman, The Scientist

Of course, scientists have a strong incentive to make bold predictions—namely, to obtain funding, influence, and high-profile publications. But while few will be disappointed when worst-case forecasts fail to materialize, unfulfilled predictions—of which we’re seeing more and more—can be a blow for patients, policy makers, and for the reputation of science itself. Tweet

The Secrets Of A Family Recipe

Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, The Atlantic

The first time my grandmother was hospitalized for the mysterious pains that would lead to her death, she had an important thing on her mind.

Summoning my Uncle Soo Kiat to the bedside of her Singapore hospital, she said, "I've made the chili paste for otah," referring to a creamy and spicy fish paste wrapped in banana leaves that was one of her many signature dishes. "The fish has been bought; the otah must be made." Tweet

Firing Bullets Of Data At Cozy Anti-Science

Janet Maslin, New York Times

The term “denialism,” used by Mr. Specter as an all-purpose, pop-sci buzzword, is defined by him as what happens “when an entire segment of society, often struggling with the trauma of change, turns away from reality in favor of a more comfortable lie.”

In this hotly argued yet data-filled diatribe, Mr. Specter skips past some of the easiest realms of science baiting (i.e., evolution) to address more current issues, from the ethical questions raised by genome research to the furiously fought debate over the safety of childhood vaccinations. Tweet

License To Wonder

Olivia Judson, New York Times

There are plenty of (probably) apocryphal tales about what inspired a great discovery, from Archimedes in his bathtub, to Newton and his apple. But there are also many well-documented accounts of inspiration — or lack of it — in the history of science. Tweet

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Paris Ballet Follies

Robert Gottlieb, The New York Review of Books

Your take on Frederick Wiseman’s La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet—a two-and-a-half hour documentary opening on November 4th at New York’s Film Forum—will depend on your feelings about ballet, about Wiseman, and about the Paris Opera Ballet itself. Tweet

The Point Of Diminishing Returns

AL Kennedy, Guardian

I have no idea what a new writer would do now – publishers are beyond risk-averse: they are decision-averse. And we are all suffering from the lack of variety. Tweet

Conversation Piece

Robert Pinsky, Slate Magazine

Why so much casual talk in Yeats' brilliant poem "Adam's Curse"? Tweet

A White House Chef Who Wears Two Hats

Rachel L. Swarns, New York Times

Twice a month, President Obama’s senior policy advisers gather at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to hash out strategies for improving the health of the country’s children. Among the assistant secretaries, chiefs of staff and senior aides sits an unlikely participant: a bald, intense young man who happens to be the newest White House chef. Tweet

Cookbooks As Edible Adventures

Julia Moskin, New York Times

Even in the age of ever-expanding recipe databases, cookbooks are still alluring. In the good ones, voice, images, recipes and food sense knit into edible autobiography. Tweet

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Collecting Headlines Funnier Than This

Eric Konigsberg, New York Times

Headlines in the satirical weekly newspaper The Onion tend to function both as punch line and setup, in that order. They are the heart of the paper, and not only the first thing anybody reads, but also, unlike headlines in real newspapers all over the world, the first things to be written. Tweet

Chick Lit Offers Fully Rounded Heroines For Fully Rounded Women

Amelia Hill, Guardian

"Chick lit" has relied for years on repetitive plot lines with heroines who agonise about their weight as they swig chardonnay, smoke cigarettes and have sex with their boss. But the latest publishing phenomenon to sweep America, which has just arrived over here, features a new heroine: the young woman who is seriously overweight – and doesn't care. Tweet

Monday, November 2, 2009

Where Horror Truly Lies ...

Charlie Higson, Guardian

Stephen King didn't scare me when I first started reading adult horror fiction as a teenager – it was Orwell's 1984 that really frightened me. Tweet

Premium Harmony

Stephen King, New Yorker

They’ve been married for ten years and for a long time everything was O.K.—swell—but now they argue. Now they argue quite a lot. It’s really all the same argument. It has circularity. It is, Ray thinks, like a dog track. When they argue, they’re like greyhounds chasing the mechanical rabbit. You go past the same scenery time after time, but you don’t see it. You see the rabbit. Tweet

November Philosophers

Katie Ford, New Yorker Tweet

Southeast Of Eden

Glyn Maxwell, New Yorker Tweet

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Empire Falls: The Revolutions of 1989

Ronald Grigor Suny, The Nation

History is always more complicated and messy than the moral and ideological tales it may be called to serve. Tweet

A Tour Of Literary Manhattan

Terri Colby, Los Angeles Times

Holly Golightly kept me company -- courtesy of Truman Capote's "Breakfast at Tiffany's" -- on my latest trip to Manhattan. It was an excursion that combined my passion for books with my love of travel. Tweet

A Final Verdict On The Presidential Salute

Carey Winfrey, New York Times

Presidents have long been saluted, but they began returning salutes relatively recently. Tweet

A Room Of Her Own

Karen Houppert, Washington Post

Her college feminism professor taught her to learn through rigorous inquiry. Then Marcia Carlisle died and left her former student to answer the biggest question yet. Tweet

The Perfect Traveler

Pico Iyer, World Hum

Really, I suppose, the ideal traveler, or travel companion, offers a happy blend of steadiness and surprise. I make up such lists of characteristics often, in my head, and scroll quickly through some of the obvious suspects (Graham Greene, D.H. Lawrence, Herman Melville, Annie Dillard). And then, somehow, I alight, over and over, on a man who seems to be wearing a silk dressing gown and is best known for his novels (though in his lifetime he was celebrated as a dramatist). We read “Of Human Bondage,” “The Razor’s Edge” or “The Moon and Sixpence” for their familiar characters, their unembarrassed intensity and, perhaps, behind all that, their exotic scenes; but the reason Somerset Maugham is still commanding readers almost 50 years after his death, and the reason Hollywood keeps turning to him for new movies (“Up at the Villa,” “Being Julia,” “The Painted Veil”) is that he was a classic traveler, disguising his hunger for romance, and even for transcendence, behind the cool demeanor of an unillusioned, above-it-all, often feline Englishman. Tweet

By Heng-Cheong Leong