Wednesday, 31 July, 2013
Daniel Tammet, Slate
Ask an Icelander what comes after three and he will answer, “Three what?” Ignore the warm blood of annoyance as it fills your cheeks, and suggest something, or better still, point. “Ah,” our Icelander replies. Ruffled by the wind, the four sheep stare blankly at your index finger. “Fjórar,” he says at last.
However, when you take your phrase book—presumably one of those handy, rain-resistant brands—from your pocket and turn to the numbers page, you find, marked beside the numeral four, fjórir. This is not a printing error, nor did you hear the Icelander wrong. Both words are correct; both words mean “four.” This should give you your first inkling of the sophistication with which these people count.
Dwight Garner, New York Times
Mr. Vásquez’s novel is a kind of languid existential noir, one that may put you in mind of Paul Auster. Hot things are evoked in cool prose. Everything is, in Miles Davis’s terms, kind of blue.
Susan Dominus, New York Times
The family now boasts five novelists, four of whom have books out this year.
Tuesday, 30 July, 2013
Emily Yoffe, Slate
I once knew a girl who lost her whole family before she finished high school. I decided to see what happened to her.
Monday, 29 July, 2013
Gary Shteyngart, New Yorker
I hear that in San Francisco the term “Glassholes” is already current, but in New York I am a conquering hero.
Ned Denny, The Observer
What sets this book apart from the reams of professional theorising on autism is the fact that it is written by an autistic, and a child to boot. Its short, question-headed chapters aim to disclose the 13-year-old author's "inner self", to make people "understand what we really are, and what we're going through".
Laura Miller, Salon
A novel about a novelist is a notoriously bad idea; it’s hard to find anyone willing to defend the practice. On the other hand, since most of the people who read literary fiction these days are novelists (or aspiring novelists), the author of such a book can assume a base level of narcissistic interest on the part of his audience. Writers are fascinated by other writers, especially the great ones, and endlessly interested in the torments, real and alleged, of the creative process. Whatever they may say to the contrary, their hands reliably creep toward books that profess to do justice to both. David Gilbert’s new novel, “& Sons,” is a novel designed to burn their fingers.
Sunday, 28 July, 2013
Martin Scorsese, The New York Review Of Books
Whenever I hear people dismiss movies as “fantasy” and make a hard distinction between film and life, I think to myself that it’s just a way of avoiding the power of cinema. Of course it’s not life—it’s the invocation of life, it’s in an ongoing dialogue with life.
Rachel Cooke, The Observer
Janet Malcolm's fierce intelligence – not to mention impatience – is evident in this collection of essays on the arts.
Suzanne Allard Levingston, Washington Post
As I folded my hopes into my suitcase, the theme sang out, “You’re gonna make it after all,” and there, miraculously, appeared the final episode of the series. I hadn’t ordered this on Hulu. This was 1980, when Hulu sounded like something you did in a grass skirt. No, this was kismet — a cosmic fluke that Mary’s last show would rerun on my last night home. I took it as a sign. Had there been Twitter, I’d surely have tweeted that I was gonna make it after all, too.
Stacey D'Erasmo, New York Times
“Instructions for a Heatwave” dutifully draws the reader through the keeping, and then the disclosure, of what has been concealed, but the novel’s pleasure and urgency lie in the indelibly familiar.
Margo Rabb, New York Times
Writers and their books will always be inextricably connected, but the relationship between them isn’t simple. As Saunders told me, “A work of art is something produced by a person, but is not that person — it is of her, but is not her. It’s a reach, really — the artist is trying to inhabit, temporarily, a more compact, distilled, efficient, wittier, more true-seeing, precise version of herself — one that she can’t replicate in so-called ‘real’ life, no matter how hard she tries. That’s why she writes: to try and briefly be more than she truly is.”
Saturday, 27 July, 2013
George Pendle, Financial Times
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One of the most unsettling lines in Robin Sloan’s entertaining techno-mystery romp is when a Google employee named Kat is asked how many books Google has digitised to date. She replies, without missing a beat, “sixty-one per cent of everything ever published.” Kat doesn’t find this factoid disquieting in the slightest. It is, after all, a remarkable accomplishment. But in the world of Sloan’s book this declaration of comprehensiveness is a direct challenge to an intangible quality that books have held within them for centuries: the capacity to be mysterious.
Friday, 26 July, 2013
Mark Seal, Vanity Fair
As the emerging scandal rocked the publishing world, I flew to Monroeville and stood in its former county courthouse, now a museum devoted to the town’s two literary sensations, Harper Lee and Truman Capote, who were childhood neighbors and lifelong friends. Upstairs in the museum is the courtroom where Lee’s father, Amasa Coleman “A. C.” Lee, tried his cases, and where Harper, as a child, and the character Scout in her novel, watched adoringly from the balcony. Lee thinly disguised Monroeville in the book as Maycomb, “a tired old town…. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with.” She gave her father the name Atticus Finch.
When Germany legalized prostitution just over a decade ago, politicians hoped that it would create better conditions and more autonomy for sex workers. It hasn't worked out that way, though. Exploitation and human trafficking remain significant problems.
Thursday, 25 July, 2013
Nathaniel Popkin, The Smart Set
What happens when reading and writing become literary subjects?
Janet Maslin, New York Times
Anapestic tetrameter is a much cheerier form of verse than its name suggests. Yes, each line has four feet, and each foot has three syllables, two unstressed and the third delivered with a beat. It is less solemnly known as the singsong meter from “ ’Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house” and Dr. Seuss’s “Yertle the Turtle,” and it is playful almost by definition. This is a way of saying that David Rakoff’s first novel, completed only weeks before he died last year at 47, is much sunnier and more heartening than it has any right to be.
Wednesday, 24 July, 2013
Dava Sobel, Aeon
Doing away with the leap second would mean decoupling clock time from the Earth’s rotation – from day and night itself.
Tuesday, 23 July, 2013
James McConnachie, The Spectator
Now Christopher Seaman, who is renowned for his teaching work at the Guildhall School of Music, and has conducted at the highest level, provides a barrage of straight answers. Most are directed towards real would-be conductors, rather than
bedroom-mirror amateurs, but there’s plenty for the outsider looking in.
Monday, 22 July, 2013
Paul Bogard, Salon
There’s no doubt light at night can make us safer, from a lighthouse beam guiding ships from rocky coasts to simply enough sidewalk light to keep us from tripping on cracked cement. But increasing numbers of lighting engineers and lighting designers, astronomers and dark sky activists, physicians and lawyers and police now say that often the amount of light we’re using — and how we’re using it — goes far beyond true requirements for safety, and that when it comes to lighting, darkness, and security we tend to assume as common sense ideas that, in truth, are not so black and white.
Sara Davis, The Smart Set
As Lévi-Strauss said, cooking is a language — sometimes it seems that so much of the work we do as consumers is to read and translate it. But as with cooking itself, decoding food discourse is better — easier to digest — with the right tools.
Atul Gawande, New Yorker
In our era of electronic communications, we’ve come to expect that important innovations will spread quickly. Plenty do: think of in-vitro fertilization, genomics, and communications technologies themselves. But there’s an equally long list of vital innovations that have failed to catch on. The puzzle is why.
Sunday, 21 July, 2013
Anita Sethi, The Observer
The timeframe of this taut, highly accomplished debut novel is only three days during the wedding week of the elder daughter of the affluent Van Meter family, yet such is the author's skill that whole lifetimes are compellingly captured within it. Simmering beneath the surface of single days are memories and frustrated fantasies of ghostly lives not lived, vying for attention.
Robin Marantz Henig, New York Times
By the time Peggy arrived and saw her husband ensnared in the life-sustaining machinery he hoped to avoid, decisions about intervention already had been made. It was Nov. 14, 2008, late afternoon. She didn’t know yet that Brooke would end up a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the shoulders down.
Suffering, suicide, euthanasia, a dignified death — these were subjects she had thought and written about for years, and now, suddenly, they turned unbearably personal. Alongside her physically ravaged husband, she would watch lofty ideas be trumped by reality — and would discover just how messy, raw and muddled the end of life can be.
David Itzkoff, New York Times
In the span of more than 40 of Mr. Allen’s films, including “Annie Hall,” “Hannah and Her Sisters” and “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” strong and memorable women have become as much a hallmark of his movies as the venerable Windsor font in their credits. These are women who dominate and who are subjugated, who struggle and love and kvetch and fall apart, but they rarely conform to simplistic stereotypes. Jasmine may be deeply troubled, but at least she’s deep.
Yet almost nothing connects these characters — who have been played by actresses including Diane Keaton, Dianne Wiest, Scarlett Johansson and Penélope Cruz — except that they have all sprung from the mind of the same filmmaker, one who professes no real insight into how he writes and casts his female characters but remains confident that he still knows how to create them.
Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times
You may have heard that Italy was introduced to pasta by Marco Polo, who brought it from China. It's a great story, but it was probably cooked up by a 1920s Don Draper — it's just not true. Italians were eating pasta before Polo was born.
How, then, did two nations half a world apart, with radically disparate cuisines, wind up making noodles that are strikingly similar? That's what food writer Jen Lin-Liu sets out to discover in "On the Noodle Road," traveling overland from Beijing to Rome.
Saturday, 20 July, 2013
Peter Suderman, Slate
The 2005 screenwriting book that’s taken over Hollywood—and made every movie feel the same.
Zoë Heller, The New York Review Of Books
But if literal messes appall Malcolm, they also fascinate and attract her.
Steven Rinella, New York Times
As an avid big-game hunter and a professional writer, I’m often asked how I reconcile these seemingly contradictory passions. It’s easy to imagine what people have in mind: the contemplative author in a lamp-lit study juxtaposed with the wilderness brute, arms sunk to the elbows in animal viscera. While I recognize the gulf that separates these two images, the skills required for hunting and writing are remarkably similar, even complementary.
Michael J. Neufeld, Washington Post
Monk’s book provides by far the most thorough survey yet written of Oppenheimer’s physics.
Friday, 19 July, 2013
Jenny Rogers, Washington City Paper
Segways, tourists, D.C., and the First Amendment: Inside the legal fight over licensing tour guides.
Clancy Martin, Harper's Magazine
And why we should talk more about it.
Tom Vanderbilt, Nautilus
Modeling a simplified version of a transportation problem presents one set of challenges (and they can be significant). But modeling the real world, with constraints like melting ice cream and idiosyncratic human behavior, is often where the real challenge lies. As mathematicians, operations research specialists, and corporate executives set out to mathematize and optimize the transportation networks that interconnect our modern world, they are re-discovering some of our most human quirks and capabilities. They are finding that their job is as much to discover the world, as it is to change it.
Mark Lawson, The Guardian
Already one of the most fascinating figures in the history of popular fiction, JK Rowling has become even more intriguing with this brief but neat vanishing trick. Lucky, though, are those few who read it in the purity of obscurity rather than the distracting glare of hindsight.
Thursday, 18 July, 2013
Forrest Wickman, Slate
If this willy-nilly chopping is allowed to continue, we could all soon be spooning salads out of shakers—an approach even McDonalds had the good sense to abandon—or sipping them out of straws. Do we really want the next big lunch chain to be Puree’d?
Adam Waytz, Pacific Standard
With access to books, movies, and television more open than ever, and research showing that crowdsourcing leads to biases, cultural criticism needs to change.
Nicholas Bakalar, New York Times
There are many dying languages in the world. But at least one has recently been born, created by children living in a remote village in northern Australia.
Wednesday, 17 July, 2013
David Rakoff, Salon
An excerpt from a novel in verse.
William Grimes, New York Times
Ordering a chopped salad is like buying a car. You start with a base price that includes a limited number of toppings, usually four or five. After that, each addition costs extra. How much depends on the ingredient. At Chop’t, tomatoes, black beans and chickpeas each cost 59 cents, feta cheese costs 99 cents, smoked bacon costs $1.49, and steak tops the list at $3.49.
Dwight garner, New York Times
Robert Kolker’s “Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery” is, physically, a well-made book. Its cover image is crisp and haunting. Someone has paid close attention to this volume’s many maps. They are stylish and, a rarity, actually helpful.
This sense of mastery carries over into Mr. Kolker’s lean but ductile prose. Reading this true-crime book, you’re reminded of the observation that easy reading is hard writing.
Robert McCrum, The Guardian
An ancient river. The journey upstream of an impressionable young man into a mysterious interior. An inevitable reckoning at the source. Finally, the terrible return to reality. Here, surely, is pre-Edwardian English fiction at its classic finest.
Tuesday, 16 July, 2013
Hugh Aldersey-Williams, Slate
The best sight gag in the entire history of art must be the fig leaf. How large it is! And how very suggestive in its shape! How it engrosses what it purports to hide. How many other plant leaves might have done the job with less blatancy. And yet the fig leaf it assuredly is that artists have elected to use when asked to preserve the public decency.
Michael Sorkin, The Nation
The architecture of the new World Trade Center buildings emphasizes that their business is none of ours.
Graham Sleight, Washington Post
Years ago, there was a “Monty Python” sketch about the world’s funniest joke devised by the British in World War II. The joke was so hilarious that it caused everyone who heard it to die laughing; when translated into German and read to opposing troops, it proved a devastating weapon. In a sense, “Lexicon” is a book-length version of that sketch, done in earnest as a thriller.
Joan Smith, The Guardian
The Cuckoo's Calling became an instant bestseller once the Rowling brand emerged – a sad indictment of publishing.
Margaret Meehan, Salon
I was so bashful I could hardly say the word "sex." But my job at the porn mag was an education in being unashamed.
Dan Kois, New York Times
This idea — the notion of real jokes and the existence of pure comedy — came up again and again when I asked other writers about Handey. It seemed as if to them Handey is not just writing jokes but trying to achieve some kind of Platonic ideal of the joke form.
Monday, 15 July, 2013
Katie Engelhart, Slate
For all this, The Perfect London Walk is a terribly unusual book, one without any aspiration to timelessness. Or, perhaps, its authors trusted that London would remain timeless enough to render their book indefinitely useful.
Lee Siegel, Wall Street Journal
Of course it's important to read the great poets and novelists. But not in a university classroom, where literature has been turned into a bland, soulless competition for grades and status.
Sunday, 14 July, 2013
Jon Michaud, New Yorker
With daily reminders of the intensifying effects of global warming, the spectre of a worldwide water shortage, and continued political upheaval in the oil-rich Middle East, it is possible that “Dune” is even more relevant now than when it was first published. If you haven’t read it lately, it’s worth a return visit. If you’ve never read it, you should find time to.
Salley Vickers, The Observer
The End of Night takes as its theme the rapid disappearance of darkness in our world or, more accurately, the growing encroachment of light. Night-time as our ancestors knew it, even as recently as the mid-20th century, is under fire. If the lights of the world stage now never quite go out, the question is how does this affect us, its audience, and the other forms of life that share our environment?
Adam Davidson, New York Times
Economically speaking, these anticasino regulations are the single greatest profit generator for casino operators. By limiting the number and location, and therefore artificially keeping the market underserved, governments essentially guarantee outsize profits for those in business.
Saturday, 13 July, 2013
Tara Clancy, The Paris Review
Squatting behind a bookshelf with a stolen cup of coffee, I tilted my head like a dog at a shadow. Ear to shoulder, eyebrow raised, I mouthed the title of a book I’d never seen before.
Huh. Must be some Knights of the Round Table type-a-thing, I figured.
Perry Link, The New York Review Of Books
Every day in China, hundreds of messages are sent from government offices to website editors around the country that say things like, “Report on the new provincial budget tomorrow, but do not feature it on the front page, make no comparisons to earlier budgets, list no links, and say nothing that might raise questions”; “Downplay stories on Kim Jung-un’s facelift”; and “Allow stories on Deputy Mayor Zhang’s embezzlement but omit the comment boxes.” Why, one might ask, do censors not play it safe and immediately block anything that comes anywhere near offending Beijing? Why the modulation and the fine-tuning?
Friday, 12 July, 2013
Meredith Hindley, Humanities
During the previous fifteen years, computers had been making inroads into the humanities, emerging as more than a passing curiosity by the mid 1960s. The digital humanities—or “humanities computing,” as it was then known—used machines the size of small cars, punch cards, and data recorded on magnetic tape. To many scholars, its methods, which depended on breaking down texts into data elements, seemed alien, as did the antiseptic atmosphere of the computer lab. But for those who didn’t mind working away from the comforting smell of musty old books, a new field was opening up, a hybrid discipline that would receive significant assistance from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which made its debut in 1965.
Jonathan Franzen, Photography by David Guttenfelder, National Geographic Magazine
From glue-covered sticks in Egypt hang two lives, and a question: How can we stop the slaughter of songbirds migrating across the Mediterranean?
Thursday, 11 July, 2013
Charlie Huston, Salon
Edward Snowden makes the giant cybertakedown look passé. I wish I'd put him in my novel.
David Hagedorn, Washington Post
You know those people who undergo major surgery but keep it under the radar because they don’t want to be a bother to anyone? Well, I’m not one of them.
Before my hip replacement in mid-May, I let everyone know I was open to receiving lavish attention, especially the edible sort. Enduring bone-on-bone arthritis for several years and having a hip replaced at 54 surely earned me some pampering.
Melissa Clark, New York Times
Despite the lack of kitchen luxuries (or maybe because of it), some of the best and most memorable meals I’ve ever made have been with nothing more than a battered skillet, a spoon and a dull knife.
Wednesday, 10 July, 2013
Simon Parkin, New Yorker
“The route between Las Vegas and Phoenix is long,” said Teller. “It’s a boring job that just goes on and on repetitiously, and your task is simply to remain conscious. That was one of the big keys—we would make no cheats about time, so people like the Attorney General could get a good idea of how valuable and worthwhile a game that just reflects reality would be.”
Tuesday, 9 July, 2013
Daniel Engber, Slate
Hotels distract us from this essential, unmet need with a thin illusion of excess. Even the most egregious fleabags will provide a few skinny bars of soap and a flagon of shampoo. Luxury hotels sprinkle extras on the bathroom counter like confetti: a nail file, a facial towelette, a shower puff, a mending kit, a shoe mitten. And what about the toothpaste—that most indispensible tool of anyone’s toilette, a product used by virtually every hotel guest in America at least twice per day? Why should it be easier to sew a button to your cardigan or polish your loafers than it is to brush your teeth? Why have hotels forsaken oral hygiene?
Monday, 8 July, 2013
David M. Shribman, New York Times
Of all the irritating things about Washington — the phoniness, the showy cars, the utter inability of a metropolitan area of 6.9 million people to produce a single decent slice of pizza or a passable submarine sandwich with oil and not mayonnaise — none is more infuriating than the local insider habit of referring to the place as “this town,” as in “He’s the most important power broker in this town” or, more likely (and worse), “The way to get ahead in this town is to seem not to be trying to get ahead.”
Zac Crain, D Magazine
The first call had come from Ted Uptmore Jr. There are many people with that surname in West; some spell it with an “e,” and some don’t. Uptmore’s father is the general manager at West Fertilizer Co., where he has worked for five decades. Now Ted’s wife, Sherry, was on the phone: “Brian, fertilizer plant’s on fire! Ted wants you up here.”
Sunday, 7 July, 2013
Andrew O'Hehir, Salon
From the Berlin Wall to Cairo, we live in an era of anti-authoritarian revolution that may transform the world.
William Krmer and Claudia Hammond, BBC
As many as a million young people in Japan are thought to remain holed up in their homes - sometimes for decades at a time. Why?
Heller McAlpin, Washington Post
“Even when I feel unhappy, tiny things still seem shatteringly beautiful, like the exact range of colours in a brick wall,” the narrator comments. It’s fitting, then, that her observations capture the derelict beauty of “that 6:00 a.m. city moment where the workaholics and alcoholics, early birds and insomniacs fleetingly collide” and the relief of touching a beloved’s hand, likened to “sipping water when you’re thirsty, or a first cigarette of the day.” These images, which shimmer in Stothard’s accomplished, lyrical prose, carry us willingly along on her narrator’s painful journey to self-realization.
Joshua Cohen, New York Times
The problem of how to treat this novel, with its traumas so rigged and rictus so fixed, finally approximates another British dilemma: “Hobson’s choice,” named after Thomas Hobson, a carrier and stable owner who came of age during the reign of Elizabeth I. Whenever Hobson wasn’t using his horses to deliver goods, he rented them out, and in order to ensure their fair rotation adopted the policy that each customer had to accept the next horse available, or none at all. “Take it or leave it” — the only catch phrase for dark literature, and dark life.
Saturday, 6 July, 2013
Mark P. Mills, City Journal
The fascinating thing about the scale of massive data sets is that, as Asimov predicted, they can reveal trends, even behaviors, that tell us what will happen without the need to know the “why.”
Jathan Sadowski, Los Angeles Review Of Books
Most Americans look upon technology companies favorably, for the most part. They provide us with useful services, and their visionary executives routinely declare that their primary intention is to change the world for the better. Everyone from Al Gore to Senator John McCain have publicly professed their love for Apple products. But this surfeit of goodwill has allowed tech companies to acquire an astonishing monopoly over a surprising amount of 21st-century life.
Thomas Nagel, New York Times
John Gray’s “Silence of Animals” is an attack on humanism. He condemns this widely accepted secular faith as a form of delusional self-flattery.
Friday, 5 July, 2013
David Rosenberg, Slate
How do you take a problem as broad as “the environment” and then subdivide that by issues specific to every state in America—and then further subdivide it by issues related to culture, politics, and race? You might try to divide and conquer. In a way, that was the idea behind the Documerica Project, created by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1971.
Thursday, 4 July, 2013
Josh Max, Salon
There wasn’t any good way to keep passersby from looking in the windows of my 2013 Winnebago Via — my home on the streets of Manhattan from December to February of this year. It was as though I’d left an 11,000-pound new couch on the curb.
Eric Herschthal, Slate
Why do popular histories of the War of Independence ignore modern scholarship?
Joel Lovell, New York Times
A week later, the book was done. “He rang me up and said, ‘The good news is, I have actually finished before my deadline’ — which is an unusual call to get from an author,” Mr. Thomas said. “And then he said, ‘The bad news is, you’ll be publishing it posthumously.’"
Wednesday, 3 July, 2013
Seth Stevenson, Slate
We all agree it’s fun to say hello. A hello has the bright promise of a beginning. It’s the perfect occasion to express your genuine pleasure at a friend’s arrival. But who among us enjoys saying goodbye? None among us! Not those leaving, and not those left behind.
Let’s free ourselves from this meaningless, uncomfortable, good time–dampening kabuki. People are thrilled that you showed up, but no one really cares that you’re leaving.
AS Byatt, The Guardian
The child I was would have seen him as wispy, grey, diminished. He stands in Wordsworth's "light of common day", and sometimes revisits and remembers the ocean. I can see the world from his point of view now. But it isn't more "real" than the bright terror and danger of his childhood.
Tuesday, 2 July, 2013
Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian
In the final book in his trilogy about landscape and the human heart, Macfarlane turns his attention to sacred encounters and wild walks.
Dennis Overbye, New York Times
This spring the theoretical physicist Lee Smolin published a new book, “Time Reborn,” reopening a debate supposedly settled by Einstein and his acolytes a century ago: whether time is real or an illusion.
Daniel Johnson, Standpoint
Are we living through the end of history? Not in the Hegelian sense that Francis Fukuyama used the phrase in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War, meaning that with the triumph of liberal democracy, world history had reached its ultimate goal. As subsequent events have shown, this was a case of wishful thinking by a political scientist, not a historian.
Monday, 1 July, 2013
Craig Fehrman, The Boston Globe
It’s easy to assume that history’s greatest authors have been history’s greatest revisers. But that wasn’t always how it worked. Until about a century ago, according to various biographers and critics, literature proceeded through handwritten manuscripts that underwent mostly small-scale revisions.
Janet Maslin, New York Times
“Crazy Rich Asians” offers refreshing nouveau voyeurism to readers who long ago burned out on American and English aspirational fantasies. Mr. Kwan either knows, or does a good job of pretending to know, how the very rich of Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai show off their lucre. Since he is not spoilsport enough to bring moralizing into such a story, readers never need worry how the king of Thailand gave two live human beings, trained as lady’s maids, to the richest old Singaporean granny in the book.
Leslie Kaufman, New York Times
Gabra Zackman is a new kind of acting star: she is heard, but unheard-of.
Ms. Zackman had classical training through the Shakespeare Theater of Washington, has worked in regional theaters for the last two decades and has had a sprinkling of appearances on television shows like “Law and Order.” Those performances, however, have brought neither fame nor fortune.
Instead, like a growing number of actors, she has found steady employment as a reader in the booming world of audiobooks.