His words at sentencing came to define my life, and I’ve thought many times over the years about contacting him. But I didn’t hear Curtin’s voice again for nearly half a century, when he returned my request for a telephone interview four weeks ago.
I recognized his voice immediately, though it is now whispery, befitting a man of 94 years. He suffered a heart attack ten years ago but did not retire until a week or so before our conversation, ending 48 often-controversial years on the bench.
Horgan’s career reflects the increasingly porous nature of these national styles. “Pulling” is the epitome of the grim British comedy. Two attempts to adapt it for American television failed. “Catastrophe” is a series about two likable characters who do not quite seem so on paper. Based only on a script, it is possible to imagine an interpretation of “Catastrophe” that veers dangerously close to “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” In the final episode of the new season, Sharon enthusiastically lectures Rob, “Not everyone has to like you. You’re not a puppy. You’re an adult man with a wife. Honest people who tell people how they feel when they feel it have people not like them. O.K.? That’s what I do. I have earned the right to have people dislike me. I am very happy to have people not like me!” (“No shit,” Rob replies.)
What was it about handles—door-handles, axe-handles, the handles of pitchers and vases—that transfixed thinkers in Vienna and Berlin during the early decades of the twentieth century, echoing earlier considerations of handles in America and ancient Greece?
Ludwig Wittgenstein, as everyone knows, abandoned philosophy after publishing his celebrated Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus in 1921. He took up gardening instead, in a monastic community on the outskirts of Vienna, where he camped out for a few months in a toolshed. It was in part to draw him back into “the world” that his sister Margarete (Gretl) invited him to join the architect Paul Engelmann in designing her new house, a rigorous Modernist structure that, much changed, now houses the Bulgarian Embassy.
Ever since Anthony Bourdain, our tribal king, published his peerless “Kitchen Confidential” in 2000, we, the demimonde of Professional Restaurant, have glutted the bookstores with more accountings of ourselves and our work than anyone could possibly wish to read. The taco truck chef, the French chef, the drug-addicted chef, the Korean-American chef, the reluctant chef (ahem), the female vegetarian chef, the bad-boy chef, the cancer survivor chef, not to mention the wine importer, the farmer, the restaurant critic, the host of a cooking competition show, the butcher, the magazine editor turned line cook, the fisherman, the baker, the beekeeper, the forager, even the sous-chef — there have been so many books from our people that you could be forgiven if at shift drink one night, loosened by a couple of shots, you rolled your eyes and groaned to your co-workers, “It’s only a matter of time before we have the celebrity dishwasher memoir.”
Well, I was close enough. Now the busboy — my apologies, that’s back waiter — has written a book too. And she has done an outstanding job of it.
Many of the reviews I’ve read of DeLillo’s latest book, Zero K, talk about “late period” DeLillo, suggesting that since Underworld, he’s been prone to writing similar books – marked by slender plotting, elusive meanings and dense, elliptical prose. What most reviewers don’t say is that another characteristic of these late novels is that they generally need to be read more than once to be understood, and that they sometimes take years to mature in the reader’s mind.
Pho is so elemental to Vietnamese culture that people talk about it in terms of romantic relationships. Rice is the dutiful wife you can rely on, we say. Pho is the flirty mistress you slip away to visit.
I once asked my parents about this comparison. My dad shook his hips to illustrate the mistress. My mom laughed and quipped, “Pho is fun, but you can’t have it every day. You would get bored. All things in moderation.”
Here are some tools you can use. You do not need to buy them. They are already in your toolbox. They are in everybody’s toolbox. They are facts that are designed specifically to alleviate the pain of existence. There are not many — only two — but they are incredibly true and incredibly important.