Tag: Books

Richard Powers’s Bewilderment Is an Exercise in Empathy

What was there to explain? Synthetic clothing gave him hideous eczema. His classmates harassed him for not understanding their vicious gossip. His mother was crushed to death when he was seven. His beloved dog died of confusion a few months later. What more reason for disturbed behavior did any doctor need? Theo crusades against placing […]

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The Impossible Life of Fernando Pessoa

Few of the poet Fernando Pessoa’s diaries survive, mostly businesslike lists of classes he attended or didn’t attend, people he met roaming the cafés of Lisbon, and daily activities. The most intriguing thing about these diaries is that they were generally written by someone else. For a few months shortly before he turned 18, Pessoa […]

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The Emotional Toll of Dirty Work

The new wave of writers reconceptualizing work in the post-Covid world echo many older traditions of political analysis. When I read the title Dirty Work, I thought it was going to be a work of old-school, sociology-flavored feminism—or perhaps a study of the types of work conventionally understood as done by women and therefore badly […]

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The Case Against Humane War

These accomplishments, Moyn writes, “cleansed” the war on terror “of stigma” and had the ironic impact of leading the country into “a war that became endless, legal, and humane.” When Barack Obama assumed office in 2009, he continued the humanization process begun under Bush. Specifically, he made extensive use of drones and Special Forces, which […]

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Can Salman Rushdie and Substack Revive Serialized Fiction?

And so, fourteen years after the Kindle, e-books are prevalent but not dominant, a decision that stemmed in part from public appetite and in part from publishers’ insistence that books not get devalued the way that music, in particular, was—a new ebook typically costs only a few dollars less than a new hardcover on Amazon, […]

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The Town That Logged Off

Kurczy also probes a still earlier pair of murders, from 1975, involving a well-known caver from Pennsylvania named Peter Hauser and a West Virginia University student named Walter Smith. Smith’s body was found in a cave near Hauser’s home via a suicide note, and Hauser’s body was found in a nearby wooded area. Kurczy is […]

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The Chair Is an Elegy for the Life of the Mind

Duchovny plays himself with relish as an amiable narcissist, leaping out of his private pool to welcome her, wearing a wine-colored Speedo and reveling in the thought of using this opportunity to finally acquire the Yale Ph.D. he started back in the 1980s, before The X-Files. In this scene, along with the requisite cracks about […]

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How Should a Millennial Marxist Novel Be?

As the novel continues to search for its political center, it tests out other theories of praxis by prose. One strategy Rooney tries is the explicit depiction of wage labor in an industrial setting. In a letter to Eileen, Alice says that the “contemporary Euro-American novel” is too invested in whether its main characters “break […]

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The Divisive Legacy of D.H. Lawrence

Luhan was among at least 20 of Lawrence’s acquaintances who wrote books about him. It’s one of the more honest accounts and has provided inspiration for Rachel Cusk’s new novel, Second Place, and a key source for Wilson’s new biography. There have been several recent biographies of Lawrence, including the magisterial, day-by-day three-volume Cambridge one. […]

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Grady Hendrix recommends 6 books about killers

Grady Hendrix is the best-selling author of the meta-horror novels The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires and this summer’sThe Final Girl Support Group. His history of 1970s kung fu movies, These Fists Break Bricks, arrives Sept. 15. The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule (1980). To hell with Truman Capote; Rule wrote the […]

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The Democrats Are Finally Catching Up With Barbara Ehrenreich

But Ehrenreich’s writing is why she and her ideas endure. Barbara Ehrenreich is perhaps the single greatest essayist writing today—not woman essayist, not leftist essayist, and not sociological essayist, but essayist, period. I know no livelier mind writing for a popular audience, and no prose stylist more elegant. I certainly don’t know anybody who’s taken […]

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How Western Books About the Muslim World Fuel War and Retribution

In 1993, in response to Mahmoody’s story, President Bill Clinton signed the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act, which made international abduction by a parent a felony offense. The same decade, the U.S. State Department made Mahmoody an adviser “on the plight of American women and children held against their will in foreign countries.” Ever since, […]

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The Incoherence of American History

One leaves Taylor’s work understanding this fully—this isn’t Great Man history, but Some Guys history. The political leaders and famous personages that tower over our imaginations are condensed to life-size. They make grubby, horrid choices; they bumble, fumble, and scheme their way through moments of import alongside the extraordinary supporting cast of madmen, buffoons, and […]

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Matt Haig recommends 6 books that offer solace

Matt Haig is the best-selling author of the novel The Midnight Library and this summer’s The Comfort Book, a collection of aphorisms, lists, quotations, and stories. Below, he recommends other books that offer wisdom or solace in difficult times. Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke (1929). This is the ultimate comfort read. […]

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Mike Duncan Takes On the Turmoil of History

At the same time, careful listeners may notice Duncan drifting leftward over the course of the series—a process that is more apparent if one follows the much less filtered @MikeDuncan on Twitter. When Duncan covers the American Revolution in the podcast’s second season, he says the fact that so many Founding Fathers owned slaves simply can’t be […]

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The Lost World of W.G. Sebald

Like his fictional counterpart Paul Bereyter, Armin Müller would take his young charges on rambles through the countryside to study the flowers and trees. He would also show them the quaint hallmarks of the town’s industry: the wickerwork factory, the brewery, the cheesemaker, the mill, the gunsmith. (In “Paul Bereyter,” Sebald’s narrator recounts how the […]

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Richard Rorty’s Warning Against Authoritarianism

Rorty proposes that “we build our philosophical reflections around our political hopes: around the project of fashioning institutions and customs which will make human life, finite and mortal life, more beautiful.” In the ensuing essays, Rorty follows this disarmingly modest-sounding directive into a wide range of subject areas, from religious faith to the ideas of […]

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Samantha Downing recommends 6 books with unsavory narrators

Samantha Downing’s new thriller, For Your Own Good, features a teacher at an elite school who’s determined to turn all his students into better people. Below, the author of the best-seller My Lovely Wife recommends six other books with unsavory narrators. Perfect Days by Raphael Montes (2016). Teo is convinced that he and Clarice belong together. […]

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The Fate of Confederate Monuments Should Be Clear

No Common Ground also corrects some recent misconceptions. Last summer, several media outlets misleadingly suggested that many of today’s Confederate monuments went up during the civil rights era. In fact, Cox tells us, only 5 percent of the roughly 800 known monuments were erected between 1950 and 1970, and many of those were erected for […]

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How the War on Terror Undermined American Democracy

It is true that Bush decided to frame the conflict as a “Global War on Terror” rather than a conflict with Islam, but he acted in ways that virtually guaranteed that this would be a distinction without a difference. Bush proffered a “with-us-or-against-us” mentality and used the attack on 9/11 to build a case for […]

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You Should Not Run Your Family Like a Business

The decision-making process at the center of The Family Firm begins with the four F’s—Framing the Question, Fact-Finding, Final Decision, and Follow-Up, or what your manager might call a “postmortem”—allowing you to McKinsey your way to the best decisions on extracurriculars (see: concussion rates by sport), sleep, summer camp, and getting your kid a smartphone. […]

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Why Did Twitter Verify an Obvious Cormac McCarthy Parody Account?

Cormac McCarthy is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and the author of influential books like The Road, Blood Meridian or The Evening Redness in the West, and No Country for Old Men. But according to Twitter as recently as this morning, the 88-year-old New Mexico resident is also a shitposter, writing tweets at @CormacMcCrthy like, “What […]

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The Liberals Who Weakened Trust in Government

There were, in other words, many good reasons to have become deeply skeptical of and alienated by the promises of the postwar order and the political constraints upon which it relied—even before, and beyond, the growth of the public-interest movement. That was true some time before the economic problems of the 1970s, which made clear […]

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Helen Ellis recommends 6 novels for summer reading

Helen Ellis, a transplanted Alabaman living in Manhattan, is the author of American Housewife, Southern Lady Code, and a new essay collection, Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light. Below, she recommends six classic trashy novels for summer reading. Wifey by Judy Blume (1978). Are you there, adultery? It’s me, a bored housewife. I don’t […]

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