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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Should The United States Save Tangier Island From Oblivion?, by Jon Gertner, New York Times

Warmer global temperatures make oceans bigger — a process known as thermal expansion — and thus increase sea levels; at the same time, land-based glaciers around the world, along with the ice caps on Greenland and Antarctica, are melting into the ocean. “But they’ve got it worse here,” Schulte said. Tangier’s location in the center of the bay, along with its friable turf of sand and silt, leaves it dangerously exposed and fragile. What’s more, the land in and around the Chesapeake is sinking, because of lingering effects from geological events dating back 20,000 years. “They’re just in a very untenable position,” Schulte said. “And they don’t have any options right now other than something big to turn them around.” A very big construction project, in short.

What Ever Happened To The Couch Potato?, by Laurence Scott, New Yorker

At the end of our tour, the guide gave us a quiz, to see whether we could work out the definitions of a handful of obsolete words. A flittermouse, we learned, is a bat. To have the yux is to have the hiccups, and a fopdoodle is “a fool, an insignificant wretch.” Then we came to the word “bedpresser.” One student guessed that it referred to a prostitute, though she put it less delicately. Another ventured, with a surprising degree of confidence, that it was someone who pushed beds around in the streets. No one could divine the real meaning—“a heavy, lazy fellow.” Trying to be helpful and contemporary, I said that a bedpresser was like a couch potato. A student put up her hand. “What’s a couch potato?” she asked.

This Book Of Essays By The Head Writer Of ‘Inside Amy Schumer’ Is Hilarious, by Sloane Crosley, New York Times

A stand-up comedian and former writer for “Saturday Night Live,” Klein is currently the head writer and executive producer of “Inside Amy Schumer.” In these 24 short pieces, her irreverent and inventive brand of humor almost seamlessly transfers to essay form. Riffs on dating, aging, marriage, infertility and childbirth have the zing-and-run rhythm of sketch comedy, but structured for the page.

'I Am No One:' Feels Like Somebody's Watching Me, by Annalisa Quinn, NPR

Patrick Flanery's new novel I Am No One asks whether it is more delusional to think you are being watched, or to think you are not being watched. Conventionally a mark of mental illness, it has more recently come to mean you're just well informed.

Hunters & Collectors By M Suddain Review – Space Travel, Murder And Restaurant Reviews, by Jeff Vandermeer, The Guardian

I’ve never read anything quite like M Suddain’s second novel. On the one hand, it’s a galaxy-spanning space opera with intrigue, adventure and fascinating tech extrapolations. On the other, it’s a hilarious, almost Nabokovian account of a food critic’s gastronomic misadventures as he conducts a tour of restaurants on dozens of far-flung planets. Suddain manages the almost impossible task of balancing cosmic scope with slapstick, intricate wordplay and dialogue at times worthy of PG Wodehouse.

My Struggle With American Small Talk, by Karan Mahajan, New Yorker

American life is based on a reassurance that we like one another but won’t violate one another’s privacies. This makes it a land of small talk. Two people greet each other happily, with friendliness, but might know each other for years before venturing basic questions about each other’s backgrounds. The opposite is true of Indians. At least three people I’ve sat next to on planes to and from India have asked me, within minutes, how much I earn as a writer (only to turn away in disappointment when I tell them). In the East, I’ve heard it said, there’s intimacy without friendship; in the West, there’s friendship without intimacy.

My Mother Is Gone, But Her Edits Remain, by Blair Hurley, Lithub

A year after her death I opened one of the many books I’d inherited from her—it was Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies—and felt my heart lurch to see her familiar handwriting. There were her notes on the title page: “Lots of detail, but I’m not interested in it. Too mundane. Every story is about unhappy women.”