One of the publishing industry’s only black editors is transmitting ideas from writers on the margins to the mainstream readers who need to hear them.
Ryder has always been trapped in her own anticipatory nostalgia, and the public has always wanted to keep her there.
Child prodigies rarely become adult geniuses who change the world. We assume that they must lack the social and emotional skills to function in society. When you look at the evidence, though, this explanation doesn’t suffice: Less than a quarter of gifted children suffer from social and emotional problems. A vast majority are well adjusted — as winning at a cocktail party as in the spelling bee.
What holds them back is that they don’t learn to be original. They strive to earn the approval of their parents and the admiration of their teachers. But as they perform in Carnegie Hall and become chess champions, something unexpected happens: Practice makes perfect, but it doesn’t make new.
By any measure, Ann Lee, the illiterate daughter of a Manchester blacksmith, led one of the most audacious and improbable lives of the 18th century. Born in 1736, she came of age in the fetid, soul-destroying crucible of English industrialization. But in religion, Lee discovered her native boldness and charisma. She became a prophet and, in 1774, led a small band of followers across the Atlantic. They became known as Shakers. And from a mean cabin in upstate New York they formed a society that would draw thousands into communal villages across much of the United States. Lee did not live to survey her realm. But her social conscience — forged in the bleak shadow of the Manchester mills — animated Shaker communities well into the 20th century.
Irrepressible as ever, the ghost of Ann Lee hovers over every page of Chris Jennings’s uncommonly smart and beautifully written book “Paradise Now.” In a sense, this is hardly surprising. All utopian experiments would seem to invite comparison with the Shakers, whose advocacy of simple living, hard work, shared property and gender equality holds tremendous modern appeal (in certain circles, anyway).
One was working as an accredited C.P.A. Another had just completed the requirements for a pre-med degree at the University of Chicago. Yet another, a junior employee at Morgan Stanley, walked down 75 flights in the World Trade Center’s South Tower and back into the family food business on Sept. 11, 2001.
These New Yorkers — Thomas Chen, Jonathan Wu and Wilson Tang — are among a few dozen Chinese-Americans who have recently surfaced as influential chefs, determined to begin a new culinary conversation with the food of their ancestors. Independently, they arrived at the same goal: to invent a kind of Chinese-American food that is modern, creative and delicious instead of sweet, sticky and bland.
Let’s say you need some books. Maybe you have recently acquired a big fancy house, boat or plane with a big empty library, and you want to fill it with real books, not those things that look like books but are actually built-in fake book spines engraved with ornate titles.
One lazy solution would be to employ a decorator to acquire an aesthetically pleasing instant collection. Another would be to visit an estate sale and hoover up someone else’s, caveat emptor. Or you could do what the smartest bibliophiles do: Put yourself in the hands of the staff at the London bookstore Heywood Hill, who promise to go to the ends of the earth to hunt down the books you need — the rare, the old and the out of print as well as the newly published — to build your perfect custom library.