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Jennifer L. Knox, New Yorker
Jeffrey Eugenides, New Yorker
Carl Dennis, New Yorker
Dwight Garner, New York Times
Mr. Rakove tells the story of the American Revolution from a multitude of shifting angles, dividing his book into sections that include liberators, lawmakers, generals, diplomats. “Revolutionaries” is a serious, probing work of history that boils down a career’s worth of thinking and research. It’s not a particularly memorable or stirring book, though, and certainly not the one-volume lightning strike some have sought.
Erin McKean, Boston Globe
How fast can a word enter the language?
Geoff Nicholson, New York Times
Older books of supposedly impartial information can be a useful reminder of just how slippery facts really are.
Ted Conover, New York Times
Books by George Michelsen Foy, Garret Keizer and George Prochnik pay homage to silence, and discover that the harder you look for it the more it resists.
Janet Maslin, New York Times
Memorial Day marks the start of a special season: the time to stop lying about what you read for fun. Call anything a beach book, and suddenly you’ve got an excuse for being seen with it.
Judith Warner, New York Times
Did boomer parents actually do something right?
Peter Popham, Prospect
Pompeii, the best-preserved Roman town in the world, still attracts millions of visitors. But its appalling state is a disgrace to Italy, Unesco and European civilisation.
Mark Lamster, Los Angeles Times
The ascension of New York gallerist Jeffrey Deitch to the Museum of Contemporary Art's helm has occasioned considerable art-world hand-wringing as to the collapsing space between the market and the museum. Of course, these two zones have really never been separate.
Anna Clark, Salon
Michael Pollan blames the movement for our fast-food culture. What about untold men who've never tied on an apron?
Susan Dominus, New York Times
Nicola Marzovilla runs a business, so when a client at his Gramercy Park restaurant, I Trulli, asks for a children’s menu, he does not say what he really thinks. What he says is, “I’m sure we can find something on the menu your child will like.” What he thinks is, “Children’s menus are the death of civilization.”
Julia Moskin, New York Times
Ms. Kulchinsky’s storefront — where the pretzels are yeasty, blistered and fresh — is one of a few places where New Yorkers can now buy a real soft pretzel, mahogany brown on the outside, with plenty of loft and pull. The pretzel dough is freshly mixed and twisted by hand. Flavor and perfume come from a traditional baking method, not from a bath of melted butter.
Tom Vanderbilt, Slate Magazine
Is it possible to design a better stop sign?
Robert Pinsky, Slate Magazine
Poets like John Wilmot cut their world down to size with wit—then built it up again in art.
Ange Mlinko, The Nation
Nothing is simple in the poems of James Schuyler, not even the formal austerity of looking out a window.
Lance Esplund, Weekly Standard
The relocation of the Barnes Foundation to downtown Philadelphia is fueled by ignorance and avarice, not altruism.
Manny Fernandez, New York Times
Eating lunch at Sardi’s last Tuesday, William Herz did not have to order coffee. It was brought to him, right when he wanted it (in the middle of his meal, not after) by a waiter who served it in a white mug that no one else but Mr. Herz drinks from.
Mr. Herz is the only patron of one of the best-known restaurants in the world who gets his own cup: He is 93 years old, and he prefers using a mug with an easy-to-hold handle. After lunch on Tuesday, the mug was washed and returned to its usual place, on the shelf of a cabinet in the coat room, because the management and staff at Sardi’s know Mr. Herz will be back.
David Huddle, New Yorker
Bob Hicok, New Yorker
Roberta Smith, New York Times
When the photographer Philippe Halsman said, “Jump,” no one asked how high. People simply pushed off or leapt up to the extent that physical ability and personal decorum allowed. In that airborne instant Mr. Halsman clicked the shutter. He called his method jumpology.
Charles McGrath, New York Times
The writer Henry Roth was a tortured, hard-luck case who at the end life enjoyed an unexpected redemption. Blocked for decades, full of doubt and self-loathing, he began writing again in his late 80s, even though crippled by rheumatoid arthritis, and finished four new novels, two of which he lived to see into print before his death in 1995. Now, almost miraculously, there is a fifth, “An American Type,” which W. W. Norton will publish on June 7.
Joshua Kurlantzick, Boston Globe
The tumultuous past two months in world politics have brought a surprise with them: Suddenly, monarchy seems relevant again.
Jan Morris, The Guardian
Travel writing has such a wretched name these days that one is reluctant to associate any serious writer with it, but I have to say that Damon Galgut's new novel contains some truly superlative examples of the genre.
SF Said, The Guardian
The genius of Paul Magrs's book is the way it uses this notion of regeneration as a metaphor for adolescence: a time when your whole life changes, a new body grows around you, and you have no idea who you may be becoming – just that all familiar certainties are gone for ever.
Richard Rayner, Los Angeles Times
A reissue of Thomas' 'Collected Poems' offers an occasion to consider the poet's elemental voice and outrageous behavior.
David Oshinsky, New York Times
A remarkably original account of the Prohibition era, a 14-year orgy of lawbreaking that permanently transformed American social life.
Martin Filler, The New York Review of Books
Hollis, who teaches at the Edinburgh College of Art, stands apart from other popular writers on the building art in his acknowledgement that architecture is anything but the immutable medium most people suppose it to be.
Robert Gottlieb, The New York Review of Books
There are a few writers whose lives and personalities are so large, so fascinating, that there’s no such thing as a boring biography of them—you can read every new one that comes along, good or bad, and be caught up in the story all over again. I’ve never encountered a life of the Brontës, of Dr. Johnson, of Byron that didn’t grip me.
Another such character is Charles Dickens.
Michael Pollan, The New York Review of Books
It might sound odd to say this about something people deal with at least three times a day, but food in America has been more or less invisible, politically speaking, until very recently. At least until the early 1970s, when a bout of food price inflation and the appearance of books critical of industrial agriculture (by Wendell Berry, Francis Moore Lappé, and Barry Commoner, among others) threatened to propel the subject to the top of the national agenda, Americans have not had to think very hard about where their food comes from, or what it is doing to the planet, their bodies, and their society.
Charles McGrath, New York Times
Who will get to control the disputed legacy and vast estate generated by the Swedish writer’s three posthumous thrillers?
Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon
Rosebud is a sled. Bruce Willis' Malcolm Crowe in "Sixth Sense" is actually dead, but Michel Delasalle from "Diabolique" is not. Soylent Green is people, and Sandra won the latest "Survivor." Spoiler police, up yours.
Michael Feingold, Village Voice
In New York theater today, what's not imported is what's underrated.
Diane Cardwell, New York Times
In some ways, the area has become like a theme park of the past, as these restored standards offer a vision of a lost bohemian New York — albeit with a well-heeled clientele and prices to match.
Dennis Overbye, New York Times
In a mathematically perfect universe, we would be less than dead; we would never have existed. According to the basic precepts of Einsteinian relativity and quantum mechanics, equal amounts of matter and antimatter should have been created in the Big Bang and then immediately annihilated each other in a blaze of lethal energy, leaving a big fat goose egg with which to make stars, galaxies and us. And yet we exist, and physicists (among others) would dearly like to know why.
Charles Simic, The New York Review of Books
Everyone who walks the busy streets of a city takes imaginary snapshots. For all I know, my face glimpsed in a crowd years ago may live on in someone’s memory the same way that the face of some stranger lives on in mine. Of course, out of the hundreds of people we may happen to see in a day, we become fully aware of only a select few, and often not even that many if we have too much on our minds. Then it happens.
Katja Thimm, Spiegel
For almost 400 years, the residents of the Bavarian village of Oberammergau have performed their world-famous Passion Play, a reenactment of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. But the play's avant-garde director, who is determined to erase traces of anti-Semitism from the piece, has left locals at odds over how to reconcile modern Christianity and tradition.
Tracie McMillan, New York Times
John Ameroso didn’t hoe the rows of vegetables that help feed the Bronx at the Padre Plaza Success Garden in the borough’s Mott Haven section. He didn’t pick any tomatoes from the vines at the Brooklyn Rescue Mission’s farm. And he didn’t turn the composting bins that kept East New York Farms! fertile ground for collards, cilantro and chard.
But he’s responsible for all of it, along with the rest of more than 18 tons of produce grown in city lots for market last year.
Jim Powell, Slate Magazine
Jim Ruland, Los Angeles Times
The late Macedonio Fernández's masterwork is a meditation on the reading, writing and inhabiting of novels.
Steven Brill, New York Times
How Obama’s Race to the Top could revolutionize public education.
Mel White, photograph by Tim Laman, National Geographic Magazine
A biological expedition to a remote New Guinea rain forest explores a world of bizarre and beautiful creatures.
Stephanie Clifford, New York Times
Half a year after Gourmet’s final issue, in November, the Gourmet readership and ad base seem to have largely vanished. And as the high-end magazines fight over the leftovers of Gourmet, it’s the mass food magazines that seem to be feasting.
Danielle Ofri, New York Times
My patient’s body was unclaimed, and it had already been sent for burial by the time I learned of his death on a Thursday afternoon. It had happened on Saturday, at another hospital. He hadn’t left any next-of-kin contact, and it had taken that hospital’s social worker four days to trace a trail back to me.
Simon Critchley, New York Times
There are as many definitions of philosophy as there are philosophers – perhaps there are even more. After three millennia of philosophical activity and disagreement, it is unlikely that we’ll reach consensus, and I certainly don’t want to add more hot air to the volcanic cloud of unknowing. What I’d like to do in the opening column in this new venture — The Stone — is to kick things off by asking a slightly different question: what is a philosopher?
Gary Whitehead, New Yorker
C. K. Williams, New Yorker
Robert McCrum, The Guardian
Many writers would happily settle to be remembered for one title. Do we really want long-term consistency in an artist?
Emily Parker, New York Times
As China’s influence spreads throughout the world, so does a willingness to play by its rules.
Jeff Vandermeer, New York Times
In this fantasy, machines and a magician threaten humanity.
for Dónal Gordon, by John Matthias, The Guardian
Andrew Motion, The Guardian
The merit of these pages lies in the way they allow us to think of Tiepolo's pictures – for all their flaunting and sociable engagement with the viewer – as describing a world which is parallel to the real one. Not just in the sense that they are filled with angels and mythical figures absent from ordinary life, but because these figures reappear with great regularity throughout his work, giving the impression of a whole society which is at once on display, and in various ways encoded.
Wyatt Mason, The New York Review of Books
The small magic of the movie is one of character and its excavation, the presentation of lives that possess all the multi-dimensional reality we seem to be seeking in the digital dark.
David Farley, Worldhum
I can pinpoint the exact moment this shift in attitude toward me occurred: Jan. 28, 2007. That’s when the New York Times travel section published an article I’d written about the village.
Andrew Rice, New York Times
No one seems to know how to value the product anymore.
Andrew Gallix, The Guardian
The reality of any work of art is its form, and to separate style from substance is to "remove the novel from the realm of art". Art, Robbe-Grillet reminds us, is not just a pretty way of presenting a message: it is the message.
Jennifer Howard, The Chronicle Of Higher Education
For Bradley, the answer has something to do with Ellison's subject matter: America itself. "He sits down to write this just as the civil-rights movement is taking shape," Bradley says. After Invisible Man, Ellison wrote through the rest of the 1950s and on into the 1960s, through the assassinations and the legislative and social milestones and the Vietnam War. Time moved on; decades passed; America changed, so the novel had to keep changing, too.
Michelle Pauli, The Guardian
Preserving the short story from technology is the claim of a new project. Interesting idea - but you'll need some equipment.
Jeremy Bernstein, The New York Review Of Books
Proliferation was inevitable and had been predicted. What had not been predicted was the extent to which it would be abetted by espionage. The German-born physicist Klaus Fuchs, who had been part of the British delegation at Los Alamos and returned to England where he worked on nuclear weapons, gave the Russians what was essentially the blueprint of the bomb the US used at Nagasaki. He is in the unique position of having helped three countries build nuclear weapons. Nor did anyone foresee that proliferation of nuclear weapons would become a commercial enterprise, which is the situation that we find ourselves in at the present time.
Ron Lieber, New York Times
A dinner at Restaurant Marc Forgione raises the question, when a chef screams at his staff, is it O.K. to ask him to stop?
Kim Van Voorhees, Slate Magazine
Cordelia Jenkins, Wall Street Journal
“I’d like to take this book out please,” I began, smiling encouragingly. “No,” said the man. “It is not possible to take books. You must read it here,” he nodded as if that were an end to the matter. Faced with this kind of negative certitude, some might have been dissuaded. Not me. My prior experience of worldwide library protocol gave me the courage to insist. I repeated the question a couple of times receiving the same response (Einstein’s definition of insanity) and finally opened the front of the book to point out the borrowing stamps in violet ink. “Yes,” said the librarian, cheerfully contradicting himself, “you must be a member to take books away.” Here we go, I thought. “I’d like to become a member,” I said.
James Fallows, The Atlantic
Everyone knows that Google is killing the news business. Few people know how hard Google is trying to bring it back to life, or why the company now considers journalism’s survival crucial to its own prospects.
Matt Zoller Seitz, Salon
Adults can't get enough of this documentary. And for once, it has nothing to do with Michael Moore gimmicks.
Rebecca Traister, Salon
Bombarded by studies about who is content and why, we forget one thing: Dissatisfaction has its own rewards.
Steven Strogatz, New York Times
Infinity can be mind-boggling.
Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow, Boston Globe
Startled by the power of placebos, doctors consider how to use them as real treatment.
Susan Wheeler, New Yorker
Sophie Cabot Black, New Yorker
Nathan Englander, New Yorker
Kathleen Graber, New Yorker
James Wood, New Yorker
The grand journey, retraced and reimagined.
Stephen T. Asma, The Chronicle Of Higher Education
No self-respecting professor of philosophy wants to discuss the soul in class. It reeks of old-time theology, or, worse, New Age quantum treacle. The soul has been a dead end in philosophy ever since the positivists unmasked its empty referential center. Scientific philosophy has shown us that there's no there there.
But make no mistake, our students are very interested in the soul.
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, New York Times
What strange force is stalking departments of literature? A philosopher investigates.
John Fuller, The Guardian
Virginia Heffernan, New York Times
As a committed user of the BlackBerry, Kindle, MacBook Pro and World Wide Web, I rarely get nostalgic for print — for broadsheets or magazines or even books. So I surprised myself by bridling at Steve Jobs’s boast, when introducing the Apple iPad in January, that the device has “a great calendar.” It never occurred to me that people liked digital calendars.
Greg Beato, The Smart Set
The hypocrisy of fast-food outrage.
Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon
Did a "Morning Edition" segment lift its ideas from a satirical viral video?
Peter Ferry, Worldhum
When I first get here, the only thing I know with certainty about Neal Cassady’s time in San Miguel de Allende is that he died ignominiously just outside of town in 1968. And although that tie is admittedly tenuous, it’s curious to me that people in this artists’ colony who are surely used to outcasts and iconoclasts seem reluctant to claim him. At least at first.
Miriam N. Kotzin, The Smart Set
Don't lament everything lost to technology.
Leanne Shapton, New York Times
This morning, I wake at 4 and can’t get back to sleep. By 5, I am up, with my dog. As I stand outside in the chill and he pads around in the dark, I decide to make brownies.
Meghan O'Rourke, Slate Magazine
Remembering my mother on the holiday she hated.
Stuart Evers, The Guardian
Ideological fiction of the kind that Orwell wrote doesn't seem to fit our times. But two powerful new novels are closely tuned to politics of the apolitical.
Jack Shafer, Slate Magazine
The institutional forces behind the demise of a magazine.
Laura Jacobs, New Criterion
How did we get here? How did we get to the point where just about every new classical dance is meaningless?
Paul Bloom, New York Times
Why would anyone even entertain the thought of babies as moral beings?
A growing body of evidence, though, suggests that humans do have a rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life. With the help of well-designed experiments, you can see glimmers of moral thought, moral judgment and moral feeling even in the first year of life. Some sense of good and evil seems to be bred in the bone.
Roz Kaveney, The Guardian
Mark Bittman, New York Times
Like rice dishes everywhere — risotto, paella, arroz con pollo, biryani — sushi is a way of taking a common, relatively inexpensive product and giving it more character by adding a bit of something interesting to it. You already know this doesn’t have to be fish, because you’ve eaten sushi with avocado and egg, at least.
Both are traditional in Japan, but there’s no reason to stop there. What about roasted peppers? Or a slice of prosciutto?
Justin Davidson, New York
Jean Nouvel’s Tower Verre was going to be the biggest thing to hit the midtown skyline since the Empire State Building. Then the city told him to chop off 200 feet. Scoffs the French architect: Why is Manhattan, of all places, afraid of heights?
Mary Jo Bang, Slate Magazine
Lucia Perillo, New Yorker
Dagoberto Gilb, New Yorker
Charles Wright, New Yorker
Dwight Garner, New York Times
Paul Berman’s new book, “The Flight of the Intellectuals,” plural, might as easily have been titled “The Flight of the Intellectual,” singular. It is essentially a booklong polemic against one magazine article: a profile of the Islamic philosopher Tariq Ramadan, written by Ian Buruma, the Dutch academic and journalist, and published in The New York Times Magazine in 2007.
Mark Edmundson, New York Times
“So, what are you doing after graduation?”
In the spring of my last year in college I posed that question to at least a dozen fellow graduates-to-be at my little out-of-the-way school in Vermont. The answers they gave me were satisfying in the extreme: not very much, just kick back, hang out, look things over, take it slow. It was 1974. That’s what you were supposed to say.
Michael J. Trinklein, Boston Globe
The strange history of efforts to redraw the New England map.
Julia Turner, Slate Magazine
Wonderful hand-drawn maps from firefighters, club-hoppers, Boy Scout dads, grandmothers, and Alexander Calder.
Christopher Buckley, New York Times
This first novel by Tom Rachman, a London-born journalist who has lived and worked all over the world, is so good I had to read it twice simply to figure out how he pulled it off. I still haven’t answered that question, nor do I know how someone so young — Rachman turns out to be 35, though he looks even younger in his author photo — could have acquired such a precocious grasp of human foibles. The novel is alternately hilarious and heart-wrenching, and it’s assembled like a Rubik’s Cube. I almost feel sorry for Rachman, because a debut of this order sets the bar so high.
Christopher Beam, Slate Magazine
When politicians tell jokes, some kill. Others kill their chances of ever becoming president.