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Friday, January 22, 2016

Work Imitates Life, by Benjamin Naddaff-Hafrey, Aeon

The utopian workplace is here, complete with roof gardens, therapists and time to nap. Can the employee ever escape?

No Parking Here, by Clive Thompson, Mother Jones

Social critics often complain that the interstate highway system deformed the United States by encouraging sprawl. But the metastasizing of parking has had equally profound effects. On an aesthetic level, it makes cities grimly ugly. Economically, it is expensive to build. A study by the Sightline Institute found that at least 15 percent of the price of rent in Seattle stemmed from developers' cost of building parking.

Book Review: John Irving's Avenue Of Mysteries, by Nicole Abadee, AFR

Avenue of Mysteries features Irving's usual rollcall of bizarre characters and tragicomic events. To say more would be to spoil the fun – let's just say few readers will easily forget the inflatable sex doll of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the aquarium murders, or the hippy with a tattoo of the American flag across his backside. Not to mention Eduardo, the Iowan missionary with a penchant for self-flagellation; Flor the transvestite prostitute (Irving finds sexual outsiders especially engaging); or the statue of the Virgin Mary with her "darting eyes".

Dodge Rose By Jack Cox Review – Australian Debut Is A Rich And Unusual Anti-novel, by JS Tenant, The Guardian

Even prior to publication rumours had been circulating about Dodge Rose, the first book by Australian writer Jack Cox, retrieved from the slush pile at the offices of Dalkey Archive Press. It is an original, at times brilliant work that in its avoidance of cliche, its restorative effect on language, actually does recall Beckett. And it is more than an exercise in language; it ends up subverting the very ideas of nationhood, memory and ownership.

Friends Of Dead Poets Society, by John Cotter, The Smart Set

For Levis — who died suddenly and unexpectedly in 1996 at the age of 49 — posthumanity has been complex.

Striking Similes, by Dan Piepenbring, The Paris Review

There’s an abysmal simile making the rounds online right now, drawn from a certain splashy literary debut: “Breasts like bronzed mangoes.” Yes, it comes courtesy of a male writer, of course; and yes, Google suggests it’s the only use of the phrase “bronzed mangoes” in recorded history. Even so: as an object of ridicule, this is what you’d have to call low-hanging fruit.

The awful simile is a mainstay of literary prose. I don’t think we’ll ever be rid of it. Even with vigilant editing, meticulous revision, and a five-year terminal degree devoted to responsible acts of metaphor, we’d still see more than the occasional stinker. And why shouldn’t we?

Teaching: Just Like Performing Magic, by Jessica Lahey, The Atlantic

I asked Teller, a former Latin teacher and the silent half of the magical partnership known as Penn & Teller, about his years as an educator, and the role performance played in his teaching. Teller taught high school Latin for six years before he left to pursue a career in magic with Penn, and in the forty years since, the duo have won Emmys, Obies, and Writer’s Guild Awards, as well as a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As our conversation meandered through Catullus, Vergil, Shakespeare, and education theory, he explained why he believes performance is an essential, elemental aspect of effective teaching.

Milk, Bread, And Eggs: The Trinity Of Winter-Storm Panic-Shopping, by Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic

Which led me to wonder: After people hear a message so ominous, and after reminders of their employers’ inclement-weather policies hit inboxes, what do they buy to prepare for spending a good deal of time indoors? I called up the managers of some grocery stores in DC to find out, and they all had more or less the same answer: bread, milk, and eggs. This holy trinity of winter-storm preparedness is not some quirk of the nation’s capital—bread, milk, and eggs are popular panic-buys everywhere from Knoxville to New England.

Biological Warfare: 1781, by Kim Roberts