Her frustration over American interpretations of the beloved coconut-scented fish curries, dosas and carefully layered beef biryanis of her homeland echoes the lament of countless cooks who have immigrated from countries like China, Mexico or Vietnam only to find their food mangled to meet the limitations of a new country’s palate and relegated to its cheap-eats guides.
“I wish I could say to every immigrant cook in America, ‘Why do you think your food should be any less than any other cuisine that comes from anywhere else in the world?’” Ms. Gomez said.
Even when researchers do want their work shared widely, why don’t we read more about the fuel that makes math grow? “The physicists tell exciting stories,” Vogan said. “In some ways, this is a failure of mathematicians to tell exciting stories.” The physicists also have better names. Black hole and God particle quicken the pulse somewhat more than “irreducible unitary representation.”
The asymmetry in storytelling between math and the other sciences may also be because the research has different start-up costs. You need billions of dollars to build an enormous tunnel to house a particle accelerator to discover evidence of the God particle, also known as the Higgs boson. A good story may secure you coverage, enthusiasm and, if you’re lucky, lots of cash. To map Lie groups, Vogan said, you just need a teaching load light enough to put in extra work on the weekends: “We can do these things with small amounts of money.”
My work morning starts with a long stare at the “to-write” list. It’s about to spill off the whiteboard. There is the stack of script notes my husband, Brian, is eager to see us turn into pages. We have a meeting with a film producer next week, and we need to sell our script, or else negotiate with our landlady. There is my new novel that exists as only 60 typed pages, some notes in a Moleskine knockoff, and a very good third act that lives only in my head. An idea for a short story has hit me, which will put off the novel for another day.
There’s also our 5-year-old son, Henry. He is on the autism spectrum.
But the truth is that writing is a struggle – often a lonely struggle – and writers and perhaps especially novelists need cheering. This slim volume cannot fail as a pick-me-up. I read it with huge pleasure and on the lookout for robust quotations to pin on my study wall. I found enough to wallpaper a room.
Most of the 35 very short essays in Would Everybody Please Stop? are either hilarious, heartfelt, or both. Many, including "I'm Awake," first appeared in The New Yorker. Some are over-the-top silly, others read like material for her performances as a monologist and may be even better live. Yet her wry voice — sometimes confiding, sometimes overbearing — comes through loud and clear in print.
Destination Reading just means you pick a destination and read there — read a book, a magazine, Twitter. Whatever. But everyone loves a label, and labels confer dignity.
The trick is to choose a place that, in the manner of Goldilocks, is just right, a place that’s neither special nor objectionable. You’ll know you’ve got it if your friends, when they hear that you’re heading there, say, “Oh yeah, I’ve been once or twice.” They’re not super eager to return, you see.