A writer can be obsessed by the question of where to write. On the one hand, she needs an intimate understanding of a place in order to make it real on the page. But she also needs to dissociate from her actual surroundings so that a story’s setting can appear in her mind in full detail. Joyce wrote his Dublin in Zurich, Trieste, and Paris. Proust wrote his Paris in Paris, albeit in a cork-lined room. It is often recommended to maintain a boring garden shed, or to put your desk against a wall.
Mathematics has its own terminology, and the truths of applied mathematics are sensitive to the way we understand and express them. The cognitive distortions associated with gambling are a relevant example of such ‘sensitive’ truths. What’s remarkable is that fighting them reveals something about both the nature of mathematics and the nature of human understanding – and that knowing when not to trust mathematics is as crucial as knowing when to trust it.
The generic quality of pollock’s fishiness — common enough for various cuisines to lay claim to it — is part of its allure. So maybe what makes the sandwich beloved isn’t its taste at all, but the juxtaposition of its elements: A single fillet of fried fish, topped with a thin slice of American cheese and tartar sauce, all of it cradled in a bun whose impossible roundness suggests the triumph of industrial food production.
But the novel is so precise and granular in its evocation of London that it made me thoroughly homesick while reading it. And Mozley is very good on the degree to which circumstance shapes interior life.
Ozick’s novella is not so unearthly, so giddily strange. But she introduces a second implausibility to the group’s living situation. The trustees have assigned themselves a literary task. Each is to compose a short memoir, fewer than 10 pages, about their time as students at the academy.
"Crying in H Mart," stood out to me as a representation of grief that I could relate to — one that doesn't reach for silver linings, but illuminates the unending nature of loss: "Every time I remember that my mother is dead, it feels like I'm colliding into a wall that won't give...a reminder of the immutable reality that I will never see her again."
Zauner’s storytelling—and recall of her past—is impeccable. Memories are rendered with a rich immediacy, as if bathed in a golden light.
Prose often focuses on whatever it might take to emerge from bereavement, however long endured. In Gregory Curtis’s memoir “Paris Without Her,” inspired by the death of his wife of many years, Tracy, he describes “drowning in waves of grief.” But on the same page he declares, “I wanted to use memories of all our good times to try to reconcile our past together with my future alone.” Memoirs of grief typically narrate a struggle to recover a sense of life’s meaning, through understanding, or will, or memory, especially of love.
Like his shows, the book is something you can return to for a dose of brief escapism. Flip from a tour of New Jersey to a guide to Sri Lanka. We’ve all been fantasizing about different scenarios and far-flung places over the course of the past year. Through World Travel, our wanderlust can continue—now, guided by Bourdain’s voice.