Fri, Nov 30, 2012
Alexandra Peers, Newsweek
The food industry’s latest fad keeps Peter Molinari busy in the basement with a huge, buzzing band saw, cross-cutting animal bones. “Some people are freaked out by it,” says Molinari, manager of the meat department at New York’s cavernous food department store, Eataly. “But there are definitely more people asking for marrow bone. A couple of years ago, they would buy it for their dogs. Now they buy it for themselves.”
Thu, Nov 29, 2012
Ron Unz, The American Conservative
But should we really be so surprised at this behavior among the students at America’s most prestigious academic institution?
So I’d like to respond with an alternate philosophy that I will call “the worst.” The worst stands in direct contrast to Dustin Curtis, and suggests that one is actually more likely to engender a liberated life by getting the very worst of everything whenever possible.
Wed, Nov 28, 2012
Frank Dikötter, Reason
The heart of this book is Mao's relationship with Stalin. Here the authors break new ground. The files from the archives amply demonstrate that Mao was a faithful follower of his master in Moscow. He had a good reason: From the start, the Chinese Communist Party was dependent on the Soviets' financial help and political guidance.
Richard Kenney, Slate
Dwight Garner, New York Times
Being by temperament more interested in bar stools and conversation than Pilates classes and 10K races, I am sympathetic to Ms. Roiphe’s arguments in “In Praise of Messy Lives.” Among them is that we’ve grown pretty dull and conservative, more interested in being parents than in being adults. She detects a wearisome “cultural preoccupation with healthiness above all else.”
Jonathan Gold, Food & Wine
Honolulu is littered with fancy restaurants, where dishes like sea urchin-garnished jumbo shrimp are a fixture on 12-course tasting menus. It also has its share of breathtakingly expensive sushi spots. Those are not the kind of places that appeal to chef Roy Choi.
Tue, Nov 27, 2012
Yoram Hazony, New York Times
Philosophers have spent many centuries trying to get God’s supposed perfections to fit together in a coherent conception, and then trying to get that to fit with the Bible. By now it’s reasonably clear that this can’t be done.
Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
While he does not delve into the science of how the brain that can produce such amazing images, Dr. Sacks deftly conveys what it feels like to have such hallucinations — and the place these visions can assume in a person’s emotional and spiritual life.
Mon, Nov 26, 2012
Calvin Trillin, New Yorker
When it comes to eating, I’m not wildly adventurous. Sometimes I think that I’m too cautious. Looking back at those moments when I wasn’t setting the sort of example a parent should set, I can hear Abigail saying, while the two of us were perusing the menu at a restaurant in Cuzco, Peru, “I guess you’re going to wimp out on the guinea pig.”
Christy Wampole, New York Times
If irony is the ethos of our age — and it is — then the hipster is our archetype of ironic living.
Sun, Nov 25, 2012
Cienna Madrid, The Stranger
But Valerie didn't confront Beth with suspicions that she was faking her sickness. Instead, to preserve her own health and sanity, she abruptly stopped answering Beth's e-mails, texts, and phone calls. "Her lying was so alien as a concept, the idea of outing her horrified me," she says. "Part of me thought, 'There's something horribly wrong with her, and if she is being abused, I don't want to make life harder on her.'"In response, Valerie says Beth went "totally apeshit."
Louise Doughty, The Observer
Each of the 14 stories in this collection is like a novel-in-miniature, concerned primarily with the telling of the tale rather than rhetorical flourishes.
Sat, Nov 24, 2012
Brett Martin, GQ
Why is that hungry mob of New Yorkers swarming outside that nondescript take-out place? Because inside, Danny Bowien is doing some of the most exuberant, radically flavored cooking in America right now. Brett Martin spends a long psychedelic night at Mission Chinese Food, where top chefs and world leaders split the salt-cod fried rice, the keg beer is free, and the chiles numb the tongue and blow the mind.
Terry Pratchett, The Guardian
Now that I have been made painfully aware of the ticking clock, and the possibility of an erratically ticking heart, tiny voices are saying things like, "You damn fool! You could be sitting at home in the chapel, happily writing books and not worrying your wife too much and staying within easy reach of a surgery and a pretty good hospital." It's a thought, I suppose – and I will respect the advice of my medics.
Janelle Brown, Los Angeles Times
The real subject of this novel is literature. "Sweet Tooth" is ultimately about the relationship between writers and readers: how frequently the writing of fiction is a form of infiltration and identity theft, how readers seek themselves in books, how much we know about an author from his creations.
William Grimes, New York Times
For most of human history, literature was transmitted orally from storyteller to listener. In theory, therefore, a book read by an actor or an author should feel like the most natural thing in the world.In reality, the book-length recitation turns out to be a very tricky medium.
Thu, Nov 22, 2012
Helen Dunmore, The Guardian
This is a remarkable novel, both bleak and chastening. Leo may be at home again, but within him the camp "stretches on and on, bigger and bigger, from my left temple to my right".
Tue, Nov 20, 2012
Sam Tanenhaus, New York Times
The populations in these states are not especially diverse, but they seem, time and again, to yield the richest harvest of “independent voters,” so often depicted as paragons of the national character — thrifty, family-oriented, churchgoing — especially if they are white males of Protestant stock, each an Everyman caught in the tangle of post-industrial America, a “man in the middle,” as John Updike puts it in “Rabbit Redux.” Published in 1971 and set in 1969 — the year of Chappaquiddick and the moon landing, the beginning of Richard Nixon’s presidency — it remains the most illuminating and prophetic of modern political novels, though on the surface it seems not about politics at all.
Stephen Cave, Aeon
The death of a beloved polar bear casts the logic of zoos in a cold light. Are they safe havens or places of sacrifice?
Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
Calvin Trillin composes poetry on deadline,Drawing inspiration straight from a headline.He likes to send up politicians in verse,Chronicling follies that get worse and worse.
Mon, Nov 19, 2012
Paula Cocozza, The Guardian
Meadows nestling beside tower blocks, children cavorting in rustic playgrounds, not to mention all those farmers' markets – these days, our cities can't seem to get enough of the countryside.
Sun, Nov 18, 2012
Mark Bittman, New York Times
Believe it or not, there is more than one way to roast a turkey. First, you must ask yourself what you really want.
Adam Kirsch, Poetry Foundation
Meditations on life and letters.
Sat, Nov 17, 2012
Paul Muldoon, The Guardian
Dawn Drzal, New York Times
“Which comes first, the stir-fry or the wok?” It may sound like a bad joke, but the answer holds the key to one of the world’s great cuisines. Bee Wilson’s supple, sometimes playful style in “Consider the Fork,” a history of the tools and techniques humans have invented to feed themselves, cleverly disguises her erudition in fields from archaeology and anthropology to food science. Only when you find yourself rattling off statistics at the dinner table will you realize how much information you’ve effortlessly absorbed.
Fri, Nov 16, 2012
David Foster Wallace, The Guardian
Andrew Piper, Slate
E-reading isn’t reading.
Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
But at their best these essays remind us of Wallace’s arsenal of talents: his restless, heat-seeking reportorial eye; his ability to convey the physical or emotional truth of things with a couple of flicks of the wrist; his capacity to make leaps, from the mundane to the metaphysical, with breathtaking velocity and ardor.
Thu, Nov 15, 2012
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
Authors like Updike and Roth used to be celebrities. The New York Times fiction best sellers used to be reputable. The well-dressed undergraduate might have a good paperback secreted somewhere about his person. Now there is no longer a pocket not occupied by something electronic. In coffee shops, students who once leaned intently over novels now lean hypnotized over cell phones.
Morgan Meis, The Smart Set
The camera never lies, so we’ve been altering photographs to suit our needs since the invention of photography itself.
Wed, Nov 14, 2012
Josh Garrett-Davis, New York Times
In this book, deploying his knowledge of the terrain, he can amplify a source’s terse account of a near-death-trail folly into pages of nail-biting drama. He also considers Curtis’s photographs thoughtfully, comparing the rich light of a photogravure portrait to Vermeer’s “Milkmaid,” or describing a “face-painted beauty with a careless gaze, skin as smooth as a bar of soap.” Each chapter closes with a couple of halftone images discussed in preceding pages, which confirm Curtis’s darkroom genius.
Colin Burrow, London Review Of Books
More than most literary phenomena, names in fiction seem very straightforward until you start to think about them. The simple question, ‘why does a name sound right?’ leads to a whole range of questions.
Philippa Pearce, The Guardian
Dominique Browning, New York Times
All sorts of “crazy wanting,” both prosaic and earth-shattering, are shot through the intricate tapestry of Barbara Kingsolver’s majestic and brave new novel, “Flight Behavior.” Her subject is both intimate and enormous, centered on one woman, one family, one small town no one has ever heard of — until Dellarobia stumbles into a life-altering journey of conscience.
Tue, Nov 13, 2012
Nicholas Wade, New York Times
A feature that makes “The Double Helix” so unusual, as well as readable, is that Dr. Watson does not describe the discovery from the usual retrospective view taken by historians. Rather, his aim was to record his state of mind at the time the discovery was made.
Mon, Nov 12, 2012
I am in a stranger’s apartment in Reykjavik, and for the first time in almost five years, I am truly alone.
Sun, Nov 11, 2012
David Sheff, New York Times
How do parents respond to a child’s unrelenting suffering? “Oddly Normal” offers one answer: We become consumed with helping him, and desperate to understand what went wrong.
Sat, Nov 10, 2012
Walter Kirn, New York Times
The question now is why we ever doubted him.
Ruth Scurr, The Guardian
What Silver has to offer is a lucid explanation of how to think probabilistically.
Fri, Nov 9, 2012
Julia Ingalls, Salon
They’re about being American, damn it, which is tricky when you’re living in a country where even the politicians are cynically rolling their eyes at the notions of “freedom” and “prosperity.”
Anthony Daniels, The New Criterion
For the moment, however, I derive a certain comfort from looking over, and being surrounded by, my laden shelves. They are my refuge from a world that I have found difficult to negotiate; if it had not been for the necessity of earning my living in a more practical way, I could easily, and perhaps happily, have turned into a complete bookworm, or one of those creatures like the silverfish and the small, fragile, scaly moths that spend their entire lives among obscure and seldom disturbed volumes. I would have not read to live, but lived to read.
Judith Flanders, Telegraph
Wilson has given us a novel packed with action and information, a novel of objects and beautiful surfaces – a novel suited to the genius of Wedgwood.
Thu, Nov 8, 2012
Janet Maslin, New York Times
The culture clash at work here — Google aces wielding the full, computer-assisted strength of their collective brainpower, one scholar fiddling with a quaint astrolabe — has a topicality that works to this novel’s advantage.
Wed, Nov 7, 2012
Matt Kaplan, Wall Street Journal
But where did the idea for such a bizarre beast—with such an odd mixture of traits—come from in the first place?
Philip Womack, Telegraph
This is a novel about connections, broken, made and remade. They may exist physically, emotionally and, increasingly, electronically. In this ambitious, often enthralling work, the only certainty is that we cannot be human without being joined to someone.
Jack Marshall, Slate
Elaine Sciolino, New York Times
For me, the Rue des Martyrs is the last real street in Paris.
Tue, Nov 6, 2012
Janet Maslin, New York Times
“Heads in Beds” is Mr. Tomsky’s highly amusing guidebook to the dirty little secrets of the hospitality trade. But it is neither a meanspirited book nor a one-sided one. It tells the tale of how and why Mr. Tomsky worked his way up the industry ladder, beginning as a rubber-burning parking garage valet in New Orleans (“AC running and classic rock on low for you, sir,” went the patter) and then making his way indoors. It views the worst species of hotel guests with a gimlet eye. But Mr. Tomsky also captures the thinking of hotel patrons who just want decent treatment. His main tip on that score: tip. And don’t do it nervously. “It’s not a drug deal,” he says.
Sara Davis, The Smart Set
But don't spread it too thin.
Sun, Nov 4, 2012
Garth Risk Hallberg, New York Times
For a while there, in the middle of the last century, New York’s northern suburbs were something like the literary capital of the country. The novels of Richard Yates and the stories of John Cheever reimagined Westchester County as a mythic landscape to rival Yoknapatawpha, and the rider of the Metro-North as a prism for American yearning and unease. Then the ’60s came along and scrambled the cultural map. But the Westchester mystique persists, in “Mad Men” and men’s wear — and in much of A. M. Homes’s best fiction.
Billy Mills, The Guardian
The first real winter chills have inspired many poets, and encouraged them – and you – to stay inside and write. (Unless you're lounging next to a pool in Australia)
Kathleen Jamie, The Guardian
According to some Iceland is, or was, "the happiest country in the world, a paradise of gender equality, fine schooling and public art". Referring to a camping trip she took there with a student friend, Sarah Moss calls Iceland "the landscape of our coming of age". Years later, now a novelist and academic with a partner and two infant children, Moss spotted an advert. Iceland was not quite perfect. All it lacked, it seemed, was an expert in 19th-century British literature. It was the prospect of a better society, a "not-Englishness" which made her apply for the post at the University of Iceland, but the very day she accepted the job the IMF had to step in to save Iceland from going bust. A collusion between the then government and a group of avaricious bankers known as the Viking Raiders had brought the country to near collapse. The value of Moss's salary dropped by a third. There was fear that schools would close, that nothing would be imported. One of the most gripping passages in her book is an account Moss is given of the 2009 "Pots and Pans Revolution", when the people brought down that government, armed only with noise.
Fri, Nov 2, 2012
Emily Eakin, The New York Review Of Books
All of which makes Wilber a natural ally of the Wachowski siblings, whose films tend to reflect a similar grandiosity of ambition.
Thu, Nov 1, 2012
Nicholas Dames, n+1
If so, you belong to what might be called the Theory Generation; and it has recently become evident that some of its members have been thinking back on their training. They are doing so, moreover, in a form older than Theory, a form that Theory has done much to denaturalize and demystify (OK, “deconstruct”): the more or less realist novel, which describes individual lives in a fairly linear manner in conventional, if elegant or well-crafted, prose.