Sunday, 30 November 2014
Fionnuala McHugh, South China Morning Post
"I feel lost in Hong Kong. I don't know how you'd write about it, it's impenetrable. There's so much of it … I don't mean writing about the restaurants and hotels, I mean about the city itself. You'd have to live here to do that."
Ethan Gilsdorf, The Boston Globe
It turns out plenty of people still play board games. Not only grade-schoolers and nerds, but average folk who partake at home, in game cafes, and at massive conventions. Feeding their appetite is a new wave of board, card, dice, and so-called Eurogames (also known as designer games, they originated in Europe and emphasize strategy, not luck). Quirky, challenging, and innovative, with themes ranging from pirates to pandemics to power brokers, their chunky boxes and metal tins are emblazoned with names like Small World, Eldritch Horror, Sushi Go!, Iota, and Cards Against Humanity.
Eugenia Bone, New York Times
The fact that under the influence of psilocybin the brain temporarily behaves in a new way may be medically significant in treating psychological disorders like depression. “When suffering depression, people get stuck in a spiral of negative thoughts and cannot get out of it,” Dr. Expert said. “One can imagine that breaking any pattern that prevents a ‘proper’ functioning of the brain can be helpful.” Think of it as tripping a breaker or rebooting your computer.
Michael J. Mooney, D Magazine
Nancy and Frank Howard were happily married for three decades. Then he fell in love with another woman, embezzled $30 million, and hired a hit man to kill her.
Saturday, 29 November 2014
Neel Mukherjee, The Guardian
Petterson’s great theme is time and how we experience it. This has a direct bearing on how narrative positions and unspools itself in relation to the consciousness of time, and on how a writer represents human interiority perceiving it.
Jennifer Siegel, New York Times
“Stalin” is a complex work, demanding a dedicated reader. Kotkin himself almost despairs of the challenges he faced in narrating the complicated and fractured tale of revolution, civil war and reconstruction.
Friday, 28 November 2014
Maureen Orth, Vanity Fair
She may be the world’s most powerful woman, but German chancellor Angela Merkel has governed with the utmost caution—one of several contradictions that make her an enigma at home and abroad.
Thursday, 27 November 2014
Donald Hall, New Yorker
In the old days, New Hampshire’s food was almost as ruinous as England’s.
Wednesday, 26 November 2014
Ron Charles, Washington Post
For all its galactic wonders, “The Book of Strange New Things” is a subtle, meditative novel that winds familiar space-alien tropes around terrestrial reflections on faith and devotion.
Tuesday, 25 November 2014
Emily Bazelon, New York Times
In essence, the court will have to decide what matters more: one person’s freedom to express violent rage, or another person’s freedom to live without the burden of fear?
The legal issue is connected to a larger question: how to deal with the frequent claim that online speech is a special form of playacting, in which a threat is as unreal as an attack on an avatar in World of Warcraft.
Monday, 24 November 2014
Nicholas Lemann, New Yorker
The art of the corporate devotional.
Dennis Drabelle, Washington Post
Ruth Rendell’s fiction clusters at such a high level that the best judgment I can render about “The Girl Next Door” is this: It’s a good Rendell, and that makes it very good indeed.
Carol Rumens, The Guardian
Sunday, 23 November 2014
Glynnis MacNicol, Medium
Help me, multi-gazillion dollar toy industry, you’re my only hope.
Saturday, 22 November 2014
Brooks Barnes, New York Times
What motivates men and women (usually traveling without children) to spend their time and money this way? It can’t just be that they really, really love Pirates of the Caribbean and the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. What kind of person, having already ridden Space Mountain a few dozen times in Florida, flies to Paris and spends an afternoon riding Space Mountain? Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Deranged.
Or so I thought. Confession: Having visited all 13 parks, I am now a full-fledged member of this obsessive Mickey Mouse Club.
Jonathan Rauch, The Atlantic
What a growing body of research reveals about the biology of human happiness—and how to navigate the (temporary) slump in middle age.
Danielle Trussoninov, New York Times
Reading “Revival” is experiencing a master storyteller having the time of his life. All of his favorite fictional elements are at play — small-town Maine, the supernatural, the evil genius, the obsessive addict, the power of belief to transform a life.
Friday, 21 November 2014
Paul Ford, New Yorker
You might have read that, on October 28th, W3C officially recommended HTML5. And you might know that this has something to do with apps and the Web. The question is: Does this concern you?
Michael Hobbes, New Republic
Let’s not pretend to be surprised by any of this. The PlayPump story is a sort of Mad Libs version of a narrative we’re all familiar with by now: Exciting new development idea, huge impact in one location, influx of donor dollars, quick expansion, failure.
Noah Gallagher Shannon, Washington Post
Miners have a rule: Nobody walks anywhere alone. A slab of rock can peel off suddenly and imprison a man for days. Or a miner can step, without the warning of a shadow, into a fatal crevasse. The buddy system is an expression of the profession’s perils and, ironically, also the limits of its safety: What happens when every man’s life is in danger?
Thursday, 20 November 2014
Ian Urbina, New York Times
We despise them – yet we imbue them with our hopes and dreams, our dearest memories, our deepest meanings. They unlock much more than our accounts.
Wednesday, 19 November 2014
Paula Cocozza, The Guardian
On the underground, on coffee shop sandwich boards and especially out of the mouths of The Apprentice candidates: inspirational quotes are everywhere. What’s going on? And do they really help?
Tuesday, 18 November 2014
Keneth Goldsmith, New Yorker
The vast amount of the Web’s language is perfect raw material for literature. Disjunctive, compressed, decontextualized, and, most important, cut-and-pastable, it’s easily reassembled into works of art.
Monday, 17 November 2014
Lizzie Widdicombe, New Yorker
Want to hire a coding superstar? Call the agent.
R. Jay Magill Jr., Salon
It's time to drop our authenticity fetish and get real about the neglected art of playing social roles.
Sunday, 16 November 2014
Jason Sheehan, NPR
But if you can open wide enough to swallow the thing whole and accept it for what it was when it was bright and young, Kadrey's 26-year-old debut still has a magnetic, psychotic charm. And for those of you who come to it just for Kadrey's name on the cover, look close and you can see, buried under the clutter of floppy disks, AK-47s and CRT monitors, hints of the writer he was striving to become.
Saturday, 15 November 2014
Scott Russell Sanders, Washington Post
Ironically, the religious faiths that are the chief source of this skepticism are themselves a product of evolution, Wilson tells us in this slender volume, which has been short-listed for this year’s National Book Award in nonfiction. Following Darwin’s lead, he argues that natural selection operates not only at the individual level but also at the level of groups. Throughout our evolutionary history, those groups that bonded most firmly against outsiders enjoyed greater reproductive success — and religion is the most potent binding force that human cultures have produced.
Michael Lewis, New Republic
And I think it is: there is a growing awareness that the yawning gap between rich and poor is no longer a matter of simple justice but also the enemy of economic success and human happiness. It’s not just bad for the poor. It’s also bad for the rich. It’s funny, when you think about it, how many rich people don’t know this. But they are not idiots; they can learn.
Zoe Williams, The Guardian
It was mid-afternoon when I went into my first Hungry Horse, on a roundabout in Telford, and I was starving. I actually started on the chips before the photographer had got his lenses sorted. “Don’t eat those!” said his eyes, beseechingly. “You’ll never finish the burger!” He had only just met me, and couldn’t have known that I finish everything.
Gerard Woodward, The Guardian
This collection of short stories about isolation and loneliness is powerful and wide-ranging.
Friday, 14 November 2014
Jacqui Shine, The Awl
So gay! So girly! The history of the Styles section of the New York ‘Times’—and the real New Journalism.
Janet Maslin, New York Times
The trifecta of “Joyland” (2013), “Mr. Mercedes” and now “Revival,” the best of the bunch, finds him writing with the infectious glee that has always been at the heart of his popular success.
Edwidge Danticat, Washington Post
Alice McDermott, Washington Post
T.M. Shine, Washington Post
Thursday, 13 November 2014
Tim Parks, The New York Review Of Books
“Into thirty centuries born,” Edwin Muir began his most celebrated poem, “At home in them all but the very last.” Much is said about escapism in narrative and fiction. But perhaps the greatest escapism of all is to take refuge in the domesticity of the past, the home that history and literature become, avoiding the one moment of time in which we are not at home, yet have to live: the present.
Mac McClelland, Medium
The artists of France’s voiceover industry are beloved, well-paid, and secretive. Now if they can only survive le déluge of Netflix.
Wednesday, 12 November 2014
Carl Zimmer, Photographs by Anand Varma, Graphic Novellas by Matthew Twombly, National Geographic Magazine
It is as astonishing as it is sad to watch a ladybug turn into a zombie. Normally ladybugs are sophisticated and voracious predators. A single individual may devour several thousand aphids in a lifetime. To find a victim, it first waves its antennae to detect chemicals that plants release when they’re under attack by herbivorous insects. Once it has homed in on these signals, the ladybug switches its sensory scan to search for molecules released only by aphids. Then it creeps up and strikes, ripping the aphid apart with barbed mandibles.
Tuesday, 11 November 2014
James Gorman, New York Times
Yet the growing body of data — maps, atlases and so-called connectomes that show linkages between cells and regions of the brain — represents a paradox of progress, with the advances also highlighting great gaps in understanding.
Elizabeth Hand, Washington Post
Stephen King’s splendid new novel, “Revival,” offers the atavistic pleasure of drawing closer to a campfire in the dark to hear a tale recounted by someone who knows exactly how to make every listener’s flesh crawl when he whispers, “Don’t look behind you.”
Monday, 10 November 2014
Sunday, 9 November 2014
Natalie Wolchover and Peter Bryne, Quanta Magazine
Testing the multiverse hypothesis requires measuring whether our universe is statistically typical among the infinite variety of universes. But infinity does a number on statistics.
Jason Zinoman, New York Times
Comedians often show audiences their scars, but never so literally. The point here was not merely to shock, as quickly became clear. In fact, it was to convince us that there is nothing to be shocked about. For the next 30 minutes, Ms. Notaro told jokes so funny and involving that any anxiety or tension in the room disappeared.
Saturday, 8 November 2014
Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
Such themes give this autobiographical fiction a broader national significance. But Mr. Modiano is also profoundly regionalist. For all his stories’ ambiguities, Paris’s streets and sights are transcribed with emphatic specificity.
Adam Higginbotham, New York Times
The Million Dollar Challenge was the climax of the Amazing Meeting, or TAM, an annual weekend-long conference for skeptics that was created by a magician named the Amazing Randi in 2003. Randi, a slight, gnomish figure with a bald head and frothy white beard, was presiding from the front row, a cane topped with a polished silver skull between his legs. He drummed his fingers on the table in front of him.
Sarah Galo, The Guardian
“Anxiety about the future of reading is something we can’t think about when we write. It’s an existential feeling that can hinder us, so it’s better to forget and keep writing. It is this hope that the practice of writing, and reading, matters that should motivate us.”
Andrea Thompson, New York Times
In digressive, sometimes mesmerizing, sometimes obfuscatory prose, she examines the complexity of human relationships and the myriad ways in which identity can be malleable.
Friday, 7 November 2014
Alison Flood, The Guardian
King has always been good at the buildup to horror: the reveal of the monster behind the curtains doesn’t always match the promise. In Revival, however, it’s more of a curtain twitch, and all the more memorable for it.
Keith Gessen, Vanity Fair
How did Amazon—which was once seen as the book industry’s savior—end up as Literary Enemy Number One? And how much of this fight is even about money?
Wednesday, 5 November 2014
Mark Yakich, The Atlantic
But what if the fine art of reading poetry isn’t so fine after all? What if the predicament about poems is precisely our well-intentioned but ill-fitting dispositions toward reading them?
Tuesday, 4 November 2014
Bonnie S. Benwick, Washington Post
When a cookbook raises as many questions as it answers, will it generate more buzzkill than buzz? With the Nov. 4 publication of Gabrielle Hamilton’s “Prune,” we’ll find out soon enough.
Daneet Steffens, The Boston Globe
A fine balancing act between thought and action on Bosch’s part, “The Burning Room” offers a nuanced, nicely-honed performance from Connelly as well.
Kenneth Chang, New York Times
“They say there are no stupid questions,” Mr. Munroe, now 30, writes. “That’s obviously wrong; I think my question about hard and soft things, for example, is pretty stupid.
“But it turns out that trying to thoroughly answer a stupid question can take you to some pretty interesting places.”
Roy Peter Clark, Poynter
Part of their genius was to latch themselves on to something huge and almost universal. It could have been music, food, or live. In their case it was THE CAR. Their interest of course, was not just the car, but all of the human relationships the car enabled or distressed.
Monday, 3 November 2014
Stephen Thomas, Hazlitt
MetaFilter began in 1999 as a sort of humane proto-Reddit. Why did a site for sharing "best of the web" links become a place where strangers help each other in real life in extraordinary ways?
John Reed, Vice
People were always dying around Grandma—her children, her husbands, her boyfriend—so her lifelong state of grief was understandable. To see her sunken in her high and soft bed, enshrouded in the darkness of the attic, and surrounded by the skin-and-spit smell of old age, was to know that mothers don’t get what they deserve. Today, when I think back on it, I don’t wonder whether Grandma got what she deserved as a mother; I wonder whether she got what she deserved as a murderer.
Sunday, 2 November 2014
Nicolas Dames, New Yorker
The chapter is tied intimately to our notions of literacy, as signalled by the fact that we give the name “chapter books” to the texts that offer school-age children their first mature reading experiences. More than this, the chapter has become a way of looking at the world, a way of dividing time and, therefore, of dividing experience. Its origins date back to long before the printing press or even the bound codex, back to the emergence of prose in antiquity as both an expressive and an informational medium. Literary evolution rarely seems slower than it does in the case of the chapter. What does the chapter’s beginnings reveal about the way our books and stories are still put together?
Jason Sheenan, NPR
It's the good stuff. The classic stuff. Digging into The Peripheral is a little like a sneak trip to the past, remembering that first, sweet shock of the new. Like wandering into some spectral record shop and discovering an undiscovered pre-first-album Ramones demo bright with all that antique rage and pain and anarchic joy. Right from the start, I wanted to climb inside of it and never come out.
Joseph Salvatore, New York Times
As with Thomas Pynchon’s “V.” or Tom McCarthy’s “C,” in Daniel Kehlmann’s subtly yet masterly constructed puzzle cube of a new novel, readers and characters alike exist for a time in that hazy, uncertain land, where there is not only the desire but the need to solve for x — or, in Kehlmann’s case, “F” — a need to assign value, to accord meaning, to map connections, to know the mind of the creator.
Jed S. Rakoff, The New York Review Of Books
The practice of plea bargaining never really took hold in most other countries, where it was viewed as a kind of “devil’s pact” that allowed guilty defendants to avoid the full force of the law. But in the United States it became commonplace. And while the Supreme Court initially expressed reservations about the system of plea bargaining, eventually the Court came to approve of it, as an exercise in contractual negotiation between independent agents (the prosecutor and the defense counsel) that was helpful in making the system work. Similarly, academics, though somewhat bothered by the reduced role of judges, came to approve of plea bargaining as a system somewhat akin to a regulatory regime.
Ben Sisario, New York Times
Even in the age of Pandora and Spotify, the all-holiday format has remained one of radio’s most enduring and profitable gimmicks, with hundreds of stations luring listeners with endless loops of “Feliz Navidad” and “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” In the last decade, the number of stations embracing the format has nearly doubled, and competition between broadcasters often leads to stations turning earlier and earlier.
Saturday, 1 November 2014
Joanna Jolly, BBC
Sea levels are rising, the land is sinking. It's going to become a big problem for some cities on the US East Coast, so in Boston people are thinking the unthinkable - copying Venice and Amsterdam, and becoming a city of canals.