Sunday, 31 August, 2014
Shawn Micallef, The Guardian
All this effort for authenticity is imaginary: the world’s urban creative class has better things to do. Also, isn’t brunch kind of stressing you out?
Tony Hiss, Smithsonian Magazine
Wilson recently calculated that the only way humanity could stave off a mass extinction crisis, as devastating as the one that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, would be to set aside half the planet as permanently protected areas for the ten million other species. “Half Earth,” in other words, as I began calling it—half for us, half for them. A version of this idea has been in circulation among conservationists for some time.
Taffy Brodesser Akner, New York Times
As well versed as she is in the mores of feminist discourse, Soloway is embarking on a journey through foreign territory with entirely different rules of engagement, a place where some of the smallest words in our language — pronouns — can cause the greatest offense. The emergence of trans culture into the mainstream has been marked by harmful missteps, many committed by feminists, but Soloway seems at ease, confident that this is a story she has every right to tell.
Saturday, 30 August, 2014
a-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic
It’s hard to learn a new language. But it’s way harder to learn a new culture.
Colette Bryce, The Guardian
David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times
Matthew Thomas' first novel, "We Are Not Ourselves," is an epic of small events. By that I don't mean its story is insignificant but quotidian: the particular struggles of the day-to-day. A family saga, spanning three generations, the book is centered around Eileen Tumulty, a daughter of the Irish working-class in Queens, N.Y. Eileen's existence is summed up in the first two syllables of that last name — tumult — or more accurately, in the drive to push past her limitations, which have been imposed in many ways by time and place.
Adam Goodman, Washington Post
Part memoir, part reportage, the book offers an insider’s account of a city of contrasts. In this kaleidoscopic telling, Goldman takes readers through Mexico City’s tree-lined plazas and maze-like streets. He shows us the fire-eaters soliciting donations at traffic lights, the people hawking pirated movies and counterfeit goods, the double-decker party buses packed with children of the elite. We feel the summer’s torrential downpours and the dread of frequent earthquakes. He writes about drugs in Tepito, a notoriously dangerous neighborhood, rampant government corruption and a culture of impunity.
Gary Greenberg, New York Times
Why does a mentally ill person have the delusions he or she has? And, following the lead of the medical historian Roy Porter, who once wrote that “every age gets the lunatics it deserves,” what can we learn about ourselves and our times from examining the content of madness?
Alan Feuer, New York Times
But the Maldives, unlike Bermuda or St. Barts, are more complex than many getaways for European tourists. They are ruled by an Islamic government — one, in fact, that is becoming more extremist by the year.
Alexa Brazilian, Wall Street Journal
These built-in benches inspire restorative reading sessions, gossipy tête-à-têtes—and bitter envy in those who don't have one...yet.
Jesse Smith, The Smart Set
As casinos continue to close in Atlantic City, it feels like the end of an era. I went to see what the end looked like.
Ann Gibbons, National Geographic
Could eating like our ancestors make us healthier?
Lloyd Grove, The Daily Beast
Like an increasing number of baby-boomers, Paul Shaffer will be 65 and out of a job next year. Actually, it’s much more than a mere job; it’s his life-long vocation (granted, really half his life), the beating heart of his self-identity, and his dependable sanctuary of fellowship and fun—the sudden absence of which might be compared to the death of a treasured friend.
Friday, 29 August, 2014
Adrienne LaFrance, The Atlantic
Who really owns a great writer’s legacy?
Thursday, 28 August, 2014
Alexandra Owens, Slate
I learned early on that while Epcot’s rides are nothing to write home about—the stultifying troll ride hasn’t been updated since the eighties—it’s the only place in the park where you can get a Norwegian cream horn. And there’s no reason to stop there.
Frank Bures, Publet
The rise and fall of travel writing.
Pala Cocozza, The Guardian
First it was peak oil, then peak beard, peak Beyoncé and peak porn. Have we had enough of the joke yet?
Wednesday, 27 August, 2014
Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
Mr. Mitchell’s heavy arsenal of talents is showcased in these pages: his symphonic imagination; his ventriloquist’s ability to channel the voices of myriad characters from different time zones and cultures; his intuitive understanding of children and knack for capturing their solemnity and humor; and his ear for language — its rhythms, sounds and inflections.
Ron Charles, Washington Post
But don’t let the high walls of his fan club intimidate you. This new novel offers up a rich selection of domestic realism, gothic fantasy and apocalyptic speculation, stretching around the world from the Margaret Thatcher era of the 1980s to the Endarkenment of 2043. (Alas, it turns out that the climate-change deniers were wrong. You might want to put up some root vegetables before winter.)
YuMei Balasingamchow, Junoesq
“I’ve lived through two wars, you know. First when the Japanese came. Then when the British came back.”
My ears perked up.
Tuesday, 26 August, 2014
Leah Velleman, Slate
It might seem hard to believe, at first, that people can navigate using such a seemingly complicated and arbitrary system. What do you do when you travel from one village to another? How do you keep track of which way kaja is? But it turns out that Balinese people manage just fine. The system is no more arbitrary than our familiar sun-based north-south-east-west, and it has one major advantage: It works on cloudy days and nights when you can't see the sun and stars. If you can see the horizon, you will always know which way is kaja.
E.C. Funke, Narratively
Watching the slow creep of the blood moon this past April was one of several recent events I experienced with my ex. We shared that magical moment because, over a decade after our breakup, he moved in next door. Right. Next. Door. In Los Angeles — population: 3.8 million — he and his girlfriend randomly chose the apartment overlooking the sanctuary my husband and I have called home for five years.
Monday, 25 August, 2014
Kate Murphy, New York Times
Following Steve Jobs’s credo that “people don’t know what they want until you show it to them,” a handful of high-tech start-ups are out to revolutionize the food system by engineering “meat” and “eggs” from pulverized plant compounds or cultured snippets of animal tissue.
Carol Rumens, The Guardian
Nick Ripatrazone, The Millions
Fishing is not merely recreation; it is a source of creation. It is an art. I will always be haunted by waters.
Stuart Jeffries, The Guardian
When Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web 24 years ago he thought he'd created an egalitarian tool that would share information for the greater good. But it hasn't quite worked out like that. What went wrong?
Adam Gopnik, New Yorker
Matthew Algeo’s “Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk Was America’s Favorite Spectator Sport” (Chicago Review) is one of those books which open up a forgotten world so fully that at first the reader wonders, just a little, if his leg is being pulled. How could there be an account this elaborate—illustrated with sober handbills, blaring headlines, starchy portrait photographs, and racy newspaper cartoons—of an enthusiasm this unknown? But it all happened. For several decades in the later nineteenth century, the favorite spectator sport in America was watching people walk in circles inside big buildings.
Alexandra Alter, New York Times
“Multiverse” may sound like a grandiose metaphysical term to attach to a novelist, but fans and scholars say it aptly describes Mr. Mitchell’s books, which span centuries, continents and genres, often within a single work.
Sunday, 24 August, 2014
Jenna Russell, The Boston Globe
He was an ebullient boy, quick to laugh and easy to love. And then, at 17, the shadow fell. A devastating diagnosis of mental illness. Trouble, hospital, home, into the depths again. Now, sustained by his mother’s unimaginably patient love, he aims to make his way back.
Leisa Tyler, South China Morning Post
Having won Unesco geopark status, Langkawi is struggling to hold on to it, as the negative effects of tourism take their toll on the Malaysian archipelago's beauty.
David Sedaris, The Guardian
'Every man ticked off on his fingers was someone I'd been compared to at one point or other. Someone kissed better than me. Someone had more stamina, a more seductive voice'
Stuart F. Brown, New York Times
A number of us can thank a cartoon character from the future, George Jetson, for instilling our longing. Students of aviation history might look for inspiration to the Autoplane prototype built in 1917 by the flight pioneer Glenn Curtiss. And tens of millions of motorists who have been stuck in traffic jams stretching toward the horizon must also feel a need to know: Where are the flying cars?
Sam Sacks, Prospect
Novels that tell multiple stories across different historical periods have become a staple of contemporary literature.
Saturday, 23 August, 2014
Michael Longley, The Guardian
John J. Miller, Wall Street Journal
Robert Aickman was a master of the creepy, the uncanny and the strange.
James Gleick, New York Times
Must one learn computer programming, then, to qualify as literate? Of course not. It doesn’t hurt to be aware of code, though. One of these days code will be aware of us.
Amir Alexander, New York Times
In his entertaining and enormously informative new book, “Whatever Happened to the Metric System?,” John Bemelmans Marciano tells the story of the rise and fall of metric America. With a keen ear for anecdotes and a sharp eye for human motivations, Marciano brings to life the fight over the meter, its champions and its enemies. The 1970s bookend his narrative, but the reader soon finds the struggle lasted not a decade but centuries. And in what was to me the book’s greatest revelation, the meter — that alleged vehicle of international Communism — turns out to be American through and through.
James Andrew Miller, Grantland
What makes Michaels one of a kind? You could call him a modern-day Ziegfeld or a modern-day Barnum and still not nail it down. Indeed, the idea of seeing Michaels clearly is tricky. He long ago mastered how to remain out of focus to all but the closest of intimates, and even they may have their problems seeing him in sharp relief.
Friday, 22 August, 2014
Joseph O'Mahoney & Zheng Wang, The Wilson Quarterly
At the same time, the Party rejected the old model that balanced economic reform with political reform. Any hopes of democratization were effectively halted. Compared with 25 years ago, today’s China has less freedom of speech. The state has applied tight controls, and the government’s budget for maintaining social stability is higher than the defense budget.
This was the ‘1989 Choice’: the combination of political repression with a market economy and embrace of globalization.
Wendell Steavenson, Prospect
Having deconstructed cooking into chemical and physical principles, he wants to reconstruct flavour itself.
Alexandra Wolfe, Wall Street Journal
Sara Seager of MIT thinks we could be able to detect life on other planets in just 20 years.
Thursday, 21 August, 2014
Molly Fischer, Salon
Sure, Bookends seems harmless enough. But it actually represents the worst impulses of today's critical culture.
Ferris Jabr, Nautilus
Your brain needs to forget in order to grow.
Ada Palmer, Tor.com
Disney says the Marvel movieverse is separate from their Princess line, but it’s still a remarkably telling question if we take it seriously and actually look at what qualities make a Disney Princess, which Thor has, and what this shows about the Disney-patented princess obsession which has such an enormous impact on millions of kids (especially girls) and on our culture as a whole.
Dani Shapiro, New Yorker
I worry that we’re confusing the small, sorry details—the ones that we post and read every day—for the work of memoir itself. I can’t tell you how many times people have thanked me for “sharing my story,” as if the books I’ve written are not chiseled and honed out of the hard and unforgiving material of a life but, rather, have been dashed off, as if a status update, a response to the question at the top of every Facebook feed: “What’s on your mind?”
Michael Finkel, GQ
For nearly thirty years, a phantom haunted the woods of Central Maine. Unseen and unknown, he lived in secret, creeping into homes in the dead of night and surviving on what he could steal. To the spooked locals, he became a legend—or maybe a myth. They wondered how he could possibly be real. Until one day last year, the hermit came out of the forest.
Wednesday, 20 August, 2014
Tom de Castella, BBC
Why do ashes go unclaimed? It may sometimes be as prosaic as forgetting or not caring about the deceased, but it may be something more emotionally stark.
Ron Charles, Washington Post
Beware Richard Flanagan’s new novel, “The Narrow Road to the Deep North.” His story about a group of Australian POWs during World War II will cast a shadow over your summer and draw you away from friends and family into dark contemplation the way only the most extraordinary books can.
DS Bigham, Slate
How many vowels does English have? Five, right? A, E, I, O, U. Oh, and sometimes Y. So, six? Actually, English has at least 14 different vowel sounds and, depending on the speaker and dialect, maybe more than 20.
Eric Jaffe, Co.Design
And how to break the habit.
Tuesday, 19 August, 2014
Alexander Nazaryan, Newsweek
Yet in her second novel, Dear Committee Members, Julie Schumacher somehow manages to pull off a smart-as-hell, fun-as-heck novel composed entirely of recommendation letters written by a college English professor. Yes, this novel’s bedrock is flecked with gimmickry, but having Leopold Bloom wander around Dublin while hewing to The Odyssey is a gimmick. So is having a bunch of pilgrims on their way to Canterbury Cathedral declaim their tales while taking a breather at the Tabard Inn. I don’t care if the author is working with a gimmick, I just want the gimmick to work.
Charlotte Higgins, The Guardian
Ninety years ago, Arthur Burrows asked: “What surprises may be in store on the other side of silence? How far will our present knowledge of music prepare us for an appreciation of nature’s eternal harmonies – the seasonal cadences of the rising and falling sap, the music of the growing grass and the lovesongs of butterflies?”
Kenneth Chang, New York Times
What he looks for is hard to see. Indeed, he and his companions often stare intently at one another, searching for distortions passing among them, slightly more visible against the dark color of a wet suit. And then they carefully catch them and place them in glass jars.
“You’d be surrounded with all these animals,” said Dr. Johnsen, a professor of biology at Duke. “But you could barely see them, because they were transparent.”
Monday, 18 August, 2014
Mark Vanhoenacker, Slate
On this fabled portion of I-90 lurks something of a mystery: The sign above, located in Becket, Massachusetts, states that in a westbound direction on I-90, the “next highest elevation” doesn’t come until Oacoma, South Dakota.
David Rosenberg, Slate
The series consists of 26 people the duo photographed and interviewed while they were ill and near death. They then photographed them a second time, immediately after the subjects passed away.
Steve Lohr, New York Times
Technology revolutions come in measured, sometimes foot-dragging steps. The lab science and marketing enthusiasm tend to underestimate the bottlenecks to progress that must be overcome with hard work and practical engineering.
Sunday, 17 August, 2014
Carolyn Caldicott and Chris Caldicott, The Guardian
Every weekday without fail something rather extraordinary is to be seen around midday on the chaotic streets of Bombay (or Mumbai). This is the sight of hundreds of stainless steel tiered tiffin boxes or dhabbas piled high on handcarts and bicycles being pushed through the streets by dhoti-wearing, white-capped tiffin wallahs.
Anjan Sundaram, The Guardian
The western news media are in crisis and turning their backs on the world, but we hardly ever notice. Where correspondents were once assigned to a place for months or years, reporters now handle often 20 countries. Bureaux are in hub cities, far from many of the countries they cover. And journalists are often lodged in expensive houses or five-star hotels. As the news has receded, so have our minds.
Natasha Singer, New York Times
In the sharing economy, workers find both freedom and uncertainty.
David Rosen and David Rosen, Salon
Sexting nation, 78 million strong! How the scolds and moralists lost, and sexting became an all-American pastime.
Saturday, 16 August, 2014
Wendy Smith, Washington Post
Will Chancellor’s first novel, “A Brave Man Seven Stories Tall,” is not always quite as clever as the author intends, but it has plenty of energy to atone for its predictable satiric targets and some real emotional heft to counter the whiffs of pretentiousness.
Steven Poole, The Guardian
The title of Alan Warner's funny and lovingly 1980s-set novel is taken from the book of Proverbs in the King James Version: "Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them. For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief." The reader is thus put on notice that at least one of the novel's central characters might be described as "evil". By the end, it seems, maybe both are.
Laura Lippman, New York Times
Jules Feiffer’s graphic novel is a tribute to film noir and detective fiction. The mere idea of anyone doing anything for the first time in his 80s, let alone demonstrating a breezy mastery of it, makes me want to join the exuberant jitterbug on the first page of this propulsive story.
Lisa Zeldner, Washington Post
But Gutenberg’s revolution was “a slow blooming era that took centuries before it was fully unpacked.” Our technological revolution has burgeoned with astonishing speed. And Harris notes that we are the last generation that will have known life both before and after the digital revolution, with its promise of instant connection with anyone and everything, anywhere. This gives us a singular vantage point to consider what we’ve gained — and at what cost.
Rebecca Mead, New Yorker
This linking of pleasure and guilt is intended as an enticement, not as an admonition: reading for guilty pleasure is like letting one’s diet slide for a day—naughty but relatively harmless. The distinction partakes of a debased cultural Puritanism, which insists that the only fun to be had with a book is the frivolous kind, or that it’s necessarily a pleasure to read something accessible and easy.
Friday, 15 August, 2014
Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic
The gentle, dependable workhorse that everyone relies on and nobody owns.
Thomas Ricker, The Verge
An ode to the loss of serendipity.
Andy Martin, Prospect
We need a decent philosophy of failure to save everyone from thinking what failures they are.
Thursday, 14 August, 2014
Bonnie S. Benwick, Washington Post
Recent news reports have chronicled your rise — or fall? — citing sustainability, affordability and sheer bounty. In Maine alone, marine biologists are happy to report that your numbers have grown “unbelievably” over the past 25 years. Will that diminish your white-tablecloth profile?
Paul Smith, Medium
Is there a better way for startups to engage with investors?
Mark Bittman, New York Times
Here’s the thing: In my professional life of finding, replicating, sometimes even “creating” recipes, my palate is up for anything. But when the work hat comes off, I fall into old and completely beloved habits.
Wednesday, 13 August, 2014
Wendy Smith, The Boston Globe
Seeking to fulfill fiction’s eternal mandate to capture the way we live now (as Anthony Trollope put it in 1875), some contemporary writers reach for stylistic innovations: a novel in e-mails, or a chapter written as a PowerPoint presentation. These can be interesting strategies, but Richard Bausch prefers the time-honored techniques of scrupulous observation and straightforward storytelling — which is not say that his work is simple.
Pete Wells, New York Times
Of all the surprises that made my meal at Sweets Raku so entertaining, perhaps the most interesting was its location: a shopping plaza about two miles from the Las Vegas Strip, in the sprawling and still-growing Chinatown area. It is one of many excellent, intimate restaurants that have sprung up in the last two or three years far from the leviathan casinos where celebrated chefs have made the city a global dining destination.
Tuesday, 12 August, 2014
Penn Jillette, Salon
I did “The Celebrity Apprentice 2012″ as kind of a work/study thang. TV networks are dying. The death throes of religion give us jihads. The death throes of television give us reality shows.
Steven Levy, Wired
Whereas Siri can only perform tasks that Apple engineers explicitly implement, this new program, they say, will be able to teach itself, giving it almost limitless capabilities. In time, they assert, their creation will be able to use your personal preferences and a near-infinite web of connections to answer almost any query and perform almost any function.
David Gordon, New York Times
This essay was born when my ex-wife unfriended me on Facebook. She was angry over my last novel, though to my mind, the resemblances to her and me were superficial. The story — which involves kidnapping, murder, private eyes — was clearly not “about” us. I was shocked and saddened — I’d hoped she would like the book — but this was not the first time I’d had this sort of experience.
Tom Vanderbilt, New York Times
Is that why writers so often save their best for first? There is a huge literature, after all, on the psychology of first impressions — which form in our minds like quicksilver and rapidly harden into Quikrete. There is not much of a literature on last impressions.
Monday, 11 August, 2014
Brad Plumer, Vox
How casinos get you to spend more money.
Nicola Davis, The Guardian
But whether or not you buy the notion that religions were founded by a collection of schizotypals and OCD sufferers or that positive words and ideas are associated with an upward direction because we correlate standing up with good health, there's no doubt that some of the proposals Davies discusses are compelling – although given that he repeatedly warns readers to be on their guard against such attractive ideas, he might well have shot himself in the foot.
Julie Satow, New York Times
Jerry Costigliola has spent 29 years, or more than half his life, working at Gargiulo’s, the Brooklyn restaurant and Coney Island institution. In all that time, Mr. Costigliola, 45, has relied on a pad and pen to scribble orders of linguine in clam sauce and fried mozzarella. But three months ago, he traded in his paper for an iPad.
Steven Heller, The Atlantic
Over more than five centuries, books have evolved from collections of folded and gathered pages bound between covers to collections of screens connected to a digital cloud. Yet despite the rise in tablet and ebook usage, print persists. Advocates of hard copy continue to make physical books that fill what few bookstores remain. In other words, the state of books today is multifaceted. How can someone possibly make predictions about books' future?
Sunday, 10 August, 2014
Mark O'Connell, New Yorker
It is hard to imagine a book more of its time than “Working on My Novel.” The first thing to be said about it, in this sense, is that it is remarkably short. Here’s how short it is: I finished it not in one sitting but in one standing.
Saturday, 9 August, 2014
John Sutherland, New York Times
Michael Schmidt’s 1,172 pages encompass similarly big numbers. Seven hundred years of fiction are chronicled, hundreds of novelists looked at, and even more novels summarized. The biggest number of all, which can only be guessed at, wincingly, is how many hours of reading this intrepid book distills between its straining covers.
Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
"The Kills" is in part a comprehensive, Tom Wolfe-esque plunge into the underworld of military contracting. It's also a shrewd, globe-trotting thriller in the vein of John le Carré. A macabre horror story appears almost out of nowhere and takes up a quarter of the book, and throughout there are tricky postmodern U-turns that keep the whole production feeling current.
Alexandra Mullen, Wall Street Journal
When I was a kid, the plant world was a narrow and unlovely terrain enclosing only weeding (yuck) or soppy love poems (double yuck). But if "The Big, Bad Book of Botany" had come my way, I would have giggled and goggled at its showy display of wacky plant lore.
Alan Sytsma, Grub Street
Pity the New Yorker who wants to eat an excellent burger for dinner while sitting at a proper table. The city is awash in outstanding burgers, but the simple task of ordering one at prime time feels like it's become increasingly difficult. The problem: More top New York chefs limit their burgers by selling them in very small quantities, or only at lunch, or only for the first 30 minutes their restaurant is open, or maybe just to the people sitting at the bar but not in the dining room, or possibly only on Mondays.
Friday, 8 August, 2014
Robert Draper, New York Times
Libertarians, who long have relished their role as acerbic sideline critics of American political theater, now find themselves and their movement thrust into the middle of it.
Wednesday, 6 August, 2014
Dwight Garner, New York Times
What puts this novel across isn’t its lucid, post-Patriot Act thematics, however, as righteous as they are. Instead, it’s that the storyteller in Mr. Shafer isn’t at war with the thinker and the word man in him; he’s got a sick wit and a high style.
Alfred Hickling, The Guardian
A novel about assisted suicide written in the second person is not an easy feat to bring off without alienating readers. But Brookes succeeds.
David Shapiro, New Yorker
Sean and Sara had come to the museum’s first-ever sleepover for grownups, an event that gave a hundred and fifty guests nearly unfettered access to its forty-five halls for a night. The sleepover included dinner, snacks, and plenty of scheduled programming. It cost three hundred and seventy-five dollars; tickets were sold out within three hours. “We don’t know anything about the guests besides their names and addresses,” a museum staffer said. He hinted at the evening’s overarching questions: What would the guests be like? Would they be concealing anything in their bags? Where in the museum would they sneak off in the middle of the night, and what would they do there?
Peter Bright, Ars Technica
In the Web era of development, Waterfalls are finally out. Agile is in.
Paula Young Lee, Salon
What we object to – what all women object to, really, — should be obvious, for nobody likes being reduced to a preferential lust object. A target instead of a human being. This is the cri de coeur of Asian women everywhere: Stop fetishizing me!
Jonathan Weiner, New York Times
Their goal, as they relate in their new book, “40 Years of Evolution,” was to study finches in the genus Geospiza — the birds that gave Darwin some of his first inklings of evolution by natural selection — and to try to reconstruct part of their evolutionary history. Instead, they made an amazing discovery.
Sara Imari Walker, Slate
In the distant future, industrial pollution—a sure sign of our technological activity—could potentially be detected from hundreds of light years away. Might extraterrestrial civilizations one day discover us by our pollution? Conversely, if aliens are anything like us, might we detect the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations by their pollution?
Tuesday, 5 August, 2014
Kimiko De Freytas-Tamuraaug, New York Times
“I’d be lying if I said pairing sake with burgers didn’t hurt my pride as a Japanese,” he admitted at a recent dinner, hesitantly poking a piece of lamb kidney and sweetbreads — a first for him — with his fork. “But we need to be exploring this path to survive as a brewer.”
Alex Mayyasi, Priceonomics
No one in the program would label it as such, but the Witness Protection Program provides one of the more compelling social experiments imaginable. Would law enforcement consent to helping criminals? Can lifelong lawbreakers earn a living legally when given a fresh start? How does a mobster or gang member maintain self-respect when he becomes a rat? And what is it like to indefinitely live a double life?
Sam Jordison, The Guardian
Which brings me back to that superb Hilary Mantel article, where the two-time Booker prize-winner also writes: "The trade of the historical novelist doesn't seem so reprehensible or dubious; the only requirement is for conjecture to be plausible and grounded in the best facts one can get." That seems fair enough doesn't it? And on those terms, you could make a pretty strong case for Renault's world … Couldn't you?
Monday, 4 August, 2014
Choire Sicha, Slate
When read straight through, the Magicians trilogy reveals its lovely shape. The world of the books wraps around itself, exposing most everything necessary by its conclusion, but occluding operations that we'll never need to see.
Megan Garber, The Atlantic
Holidays that take place not at the level of the mass culture, but at the level of the micro-community. Holidays that make you wonder what it means to be a holiday in the first place.
Charles Wright, The Paris Review
Carol Rumes, The Guardian
Sunday, 3 August, 2014
Ruth Padawer, New York Times
“I’ve been studying autistic kids for 40 years,” Fein says, “and I’m pretty good at what I do. But I can’t predict who is going to get better and who’s not based on what they look like when I first see them. In fact, I not only can’t predict who is going to turn out with optimal outcome, but I can’t even predict who will have high-functioning autism and who will be low-functioning. There’s so much we still don’t understand.”
Joshua Kurlantzick, New York Times
Through her journey, too, she hopes to understand not only how a country as diverse and far-flung as Indonesia — at least 13,000 islands, many with their own unique cultures — has stayed together but also why, despite having had an average income similar to Malaysia’s and Singapore’s 60 years ago, it now lags badly behind.
Douglas Coupland, Financial Times
Fax machines, coffee shops, zombie movies . . . They’ll never take off . . .
Saturday, 2 August, 2014
Meg Favreau, The Smart Set
An ode to the locally-produced cookbook.
Shane Harris, Foreign Policy
Singapore is testing whether mass surveillance and big data can not only protect national security, but actually engineer a more harmonious society.
Friday, 1 August, 2014
Alex Witchel, New York Times
“He’s a new father!” I trumpeted to our waiter, who shook Greg’s hand and congratulated him. Greg drank a martini and ate a burger while it occurred to me that there is an entire subset of restaurants in New York that cater specifically to people celebrating birth, mourning death and negotiating illness, all because of where they are. I was curious to explore this notion of restaurant-as-chapel. Talk about drama.
Dwight Garner, New York Times
It explores a simple but confounding question, one the author wrests from theorists literary and otherwise and presents this way: “What do we see when we read? (Other than words on a page.) What do we picture in our minds?” Mr. Mendelsund looks at these questions from a thousand angles, zooming in and out as if surveilling them with Google Earth.