Ladies and gentlemen, we have infiltrated the building. Not just the building, the magazine!
The first thing that strikes me is that’s a lot of caveats – a factor some have been quick to point out. Randall is unimpressed. “I am fully aware that it is speculative,” she says, her matter-of-fact tone, steely expression and languid drawl combining to remind me that you don’t get to be one of the world’s most cited theoretical physicists – or on Time’s 100 list – by missing something as obvious as that. “Whether or not it turns out to be true, basically having an alternative [theory] makes you look at what you have more carefully,” she adds.
But if there is one person likely to be unfazed by a panoply of uncertainties, it’s Randall. Born and brought up in Queens, New York, she has dedicated her career to probing the abstract. “I guess I like to find unexplored corners,” she says.
However frantically male authors—and those of the 20th century in particular—have attempted to redefine the novel as a manly endeavor dealing with such important subjects as war and male ambition, the readership for fiction is and has always been predominantly female and middle-class. No wonder then that the greatest novels in several languages, from Middlemarch to Madame Bovary to Anna Karenina, concern themselves with heroines at odds with their own domestic fates.
There was a lot said last week about the reëmergence, in Germany, of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” (“My Struggle”)—which just became legal to publish and sell there, for the first time since the end of the Second World War, albeit in a heavily hedged “scholarly” edition. Did providing a public place for the autobiographical testament of the Nazi dictator, written when he was briefly imprisoned in Bavaria, in the nineteen-twenties, in some way legitimize it, people asked, even if the text was surrounded by a trench work of scholarly addenda designed to italicize its lies and manias?
A Cup of Rage is a burning coal of a work, superbly translated by Stefan Tobler. You may consider a book this short to be scarcely worthy of the name, but it packs more power into its scant 47 pages than most books do into five or 10 times as many. Each of its seven chapters comes not only as an unbroken paragraph but as a single sentence: you have to read carefully, to keep track, and once you have finished you will want to read it again. The writing is chewy – dense, tough, but well worth the effort.
Back when our family dog was not dead, he would vacation at the home of a woman named Janet. Hank was a pound mutt with shepherd coloring and terrier brains and a sensitive, Mr. Chips–like face that spoke of past sufferings. He and my dad were inseparable, which made his visits to Janet’s a big deal.
Sauce packets, the dabbles of vinegar and tomato puree that make up ketchup, the emulsified eggs and oil bound together in the average mayonnaise (admit it, you use these for fries) or the soy sauce from your last takeout order, seem to be the Forrest Gump of the fast food world. With every milestone or major industry event, they sit there, in the background.
Yet, these small bits of plastic are a whole industry unto themselves. Before they started clogging up your silverware drawer, they represented a kind of packaging innovation.