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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Welcome To The Country, by Erin Anderssen, The Globe And Mail

Undaunted, more than 65 towns lined up to sponsor Syrians. And Altona, located 10 kilometres from the U.S. border, in Manitoba’s Bible Belt, has taken more than most: So far, 34 refugees, all Muslim, have landed here. Ahlam Dib and Ahmad Daas, along with their three daughters and four sons, were among Manitoba’s first. Two more families – brothers, with their wives and children, arrived on New Year’s Day, and a family with 11 children landed two weeks later. The arrival of a fifth family, still pending, will bring the town’s count to 45. Not so many by city standards – but it represents roughly one per cent of the local population. “There is a lot of love in small places,” says Amy Loewen, an Altona sponsor and young mother, “for people who need a home.”

The Subtle Genius Of Elena Ferrante’s Bad Book Covers, by Emily Harnett, The Atlantic

With their sandy beaches and windswept women, the U.S. editions of Elena Ferrante’s novels look familiar even if you’ve never seen them. That’s because they look like virtually every other book authored by a woman these days—not to mention like bridal magazines, beach-resort brochures, and even “Viagra ads.” On Twitter and beyond, readers have described Ferrante’s covers as “horrible,” “atrocious,” “utterly hideous,” and as a “disservice” to her novels. At Slate, one commenter approvingly mentions a local bookstore’s decision to display one of Ferrante’s books in plain brown paper, reviving a practice used for Playboy and the infamous issue of Vanity Fair with a pregnant Demi Moore on the cover. The implication, of course, isn’t that Ferrante’s covers are obscene in the traditional sense—just obscenely bad.

Book Review: I'm Thinking Of Ending Things By Iain Reid, by Janette Wolf, Independent

This is a deliciously frightening novel, Reid has a light, idiosyncratic touch but never lets his vice-like grip of suspense slacken for a second. Once finished, you will be hard pressed not to start the whole terrifying journey all over again.

How To Get Paid To Do Nothing, by Tom Hodgkinson, New York Times

Italian bureaucracy is legendary for a reason. Italians spend so much of their lives waiting in line — an estimated 400 hours a year per person — that some are now willing to pay freelancers to wait on their behalf. The rich can pay a “codista,” a neologism for a trained line sitter, to maunder at the post office or bank while they get on with something more important.

I’m not quite sure what training is required to stand in place and occasionally shuffle forward, but maybe there is more skill to waiting in line than meets the eye. And it seems that Italy is not the only bureaucratically overwhelmed nation with its own waiting industry.

Why We Rank Things, by Saul Austerlitz, Boston Globe

There is so much to see, to read, to listen to, and we will never be able to conquer it all. Where would we even begin?

This desire to become culturally fluent springs from an urge to find order in the glorious but often overwhelming morass that is the history of art. Lists and rankings are the only way to stop endlessly scrolling around your Netflix library.