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Monday, July 25, 2016

Just Deserts, by Robert H. Frank, The Hedgehog Review

“Luck,” E.B. White once impishly observed, “is not something you can mention in the presence of self-made men.” Today, the widespread faith in the meritocratic ideal has pushed that taboo well beyond the circles of the successful. Most people in modern democracies cling almost religiously to the belief that merit, and merit alone, leads to success.

But how important is luck? Few questions more reliably divide conservatives from liberals. As conservatives correctly observe, people who amass great fortunes are almost always extremely talented and hard working. But as liberals also rightly note, countless others have those same qualities yet never earn much, or even see much of a rise in their station or status.

Dave Eggers Takes A Trip To Alaska In Heroes Of The Frontier, by Bill Jones, AV Club

Heroes Of The Frontier’s adventure doubles as a metaphor for American life in suburbia. As much as Josie is fleeing personal problems, she also is fleeing an era in which everyone is disappointed with everything.

Book Review: The Talented Ms Highsmith, by Stephen Jewell, New Zealand Herald

As Dawson writes in the novel, Highsmith believed she had little in common with the likes of Agatha Christie and our own Dame Ngaio Marsh.

"What she was trying to distance herself from was the detective novel," says Dawson. "So there's never any detection or whodunnit in her books; there's no set-up with a load of clues. It's not puzzle fiction, which Highsmith always said she despised."

However, crime was always at the centre of her novels, which ranged from her 1950 debut Strangers on a Train to the five novels she wrote starring amoral sociopath Tom Ripley, brought to life on the big screen by Matt Damon in 1999's The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Yes, It’s Summer. But You Still Can’t Wear Those Shorts In These Restaurants., by Maura Judkis, Washington Post

Usually, he’ll seat the underdressed near the lounge, and they’ll never be the wiser. But first, he’ll offer them a loaner jacket.

“I have all jackets made by Brooks Brothers, like the president,” he says. “I have six sizes.”

There are closets like Kebaier’s across the country, filled with identical blazers hanging in wait for the next wardrobe faux pas. But each year, there are fewer of them. As fine dining grows more casual, restaurants with jackets-required policies are going the way of the dodo — a fact that’s never more obvious than in the summer.