Curling is absolutely the best sport to watch on television, particularly for viewers looking for an escape from the frantic "more, faster, bigger, higher" grind of most televised games. Watching basketball or hockey can get you so hyped up, you feel like drinking a Red Bull and doing jumping jacks. Watching curling makes you want to drink a glass of red wine and lie down on the shag carpet. Curling is deliberate. Thoughtful, even. The games move very slowly. The players spend a lot of time talking strategy. There are nods and quiet words of encouragement; rarely are there disagreements. When it comes time for a team member to play their turn by sliding a stone down the ice, the moves are elegant. There's a wind up, a push-off, a slide, and a gentle release. Such poise and finesse!
In death there is no longer any control over your life and your work; this control we call privacy. For the famous, this means everything is published: the writer’s journals, the director’s cuts, and even the secrets of the actress’s internal organs, which contained, we are told, traces of cocaine, heroin, and MDMA.
Autopsy: literally, to see for one’s self. The dead are pried apart, defenseless before our judgment.
For the ordinary, what is flayed open is of much more private interest: words written down, things squirreled away, photographs, possessions, browsing history, texts, unposted selfies. These too are published, but only in the sense that there are no more additions, no changes. The work of living has stopped, and only these impressions remain.
As in the work of Anne Tyler (a writer Jones loves, and who also favors one city, in her case Baltimore, above others in her work) the apparently “gentle” themes of Jones’ novels — the interior lives of women, explorations of the American family and relationships — can be deceptive, as can the simplicity of her prose. Jones places black people at the center of her stories (without making them elaborate race ambassadors) while doing subtle work in parsing and interrogating those intimate themes.
And now An American Marriage, with its ruminations on masculinity, married life, and what constitutes marital debt, manages the trick of arriving at the right time while also feeling utterly untethered to just one era. If Silver Sparrow was mainstream America’s introduction to Tayari Jones, her newest novel could be the one to propel her into its heart.
It’s safe to say that few of us stop and marvel at the extraordinary progress that humankind has made in the past couple of hundred years – a mere blink of the eye in evolutionary terms. Instead we’re more likely to lament the state of the world, deplore the ravenous nature of humanity, rage at the political and financial elites and despair at the empty materialism of consumer society.
But for Pinker, that’s an indulgence we can no longer afford. His book is a sustained, data-packed argument in favour of the principles promoted by the Enlightenment, “The Case,” as its subtitle puts it, “for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.”
Halliday has written, somehow all at once, a transgressive roman à clef, a novel of ideas and a politically engaged work of metafiction. “Asymmetry” is extraordinary, and the timing of its publication seems almost like a feat of civics. The effect on the reader feels identical to the way Ezra describes a piano suite by Isaac Albéniz, which he selects near the program’s end. “Each of the pieces builds on the last,” he says. “They’re discrete and yet all the richer for being heard together, and you just ache with the mounting intensity of it.”
“How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars” ably if uncritically chronicles the short history of a young company catering to young users, with a young chief executive, and reveals, intentionally or not, the limitations that come with that combination.