Category Archives: Reading

Brief Thoughts about and Interesting Quotes from Blood Work by Holly Tucker

Cultural phenomenon, in a cultural light, fascinates me. I picked up Blood Work by Holly Tucker because of this fact. Medicine, or at least “modern” medicine, is really quite new (blood types weren’t discovered until nearly the turn of the 20th Century, for example) so the idea of performing blood transfusions at a time when basic understandings of the human body and the world were, in some ways, very different than today intrigues me. Tucker didn’t disappoint. The book is  narrative and a little too biographical for me, the reader gets a good sense of people’s basic cultural (religious, social, economic) framework in conjunction with this very heady undertaking by (half of) the preeminent medical practitioners of the time. Some quotes that I found particularly interesting:

“When William Harvey plotted the circular path of blood, he was also describing an elaborate human machine composed of pumps, valves, and tubes. And it was through circulation — both as a metaphor and a scalable model — that [Christopher] Wren had expressed his radical new vision for the city of London following the Great Fire. For Wren a new layout for the city would not only cure London’s ills: The plan was the ultimate physical representation of a mechanistic human body and a celebration of the circulation models that the architect had spent so much time exploring in his early career at Oxford. The city would function like a well-oiled machine, moving people and goods as smoothly as the heart pumped blood through the body.” (54) I love the city/body/machine metaphor that seems to get so mechanically convoluted. It describes the “new” way of thinking at the time and shows too that we still very much think in terms of this four hundred year old metaphor.

“As with most everything in this ostentatiously elite society, the telescopes had been mounted at great expense as a display of access to knowledge — and, like so many other tools of science at the time, a fashion statement.” (79)

“In contrast to Descartes’ plenum, in which particles occupied every bit of space seen and unseen, [Pierre] Gassendi posited instead the presence of gaps and holes. These gaps and holes prevented us from mastering the mysteries of nature. Something had to be present to fully understand it: Certainty cannot follow from emptiness.” (83) I can see both of these ideas at work

The reason for my rating the book as I did ***(*) is because I thought it was somewhat too biographical for my liking, but well-written and interesting throughout. Definitely worth the quick read.

Tucker, Holly. Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2011.

Seriously. a consideration of Michael Burke’s Music of the Spheres

After finishing Burke’s second PI novel which follows Johnny “Blue” Herron, I now think that Swan Dive was in fact rough. Not to say that it wasn’t any good. My rating stands and it contained a thoughtful and interesting use of genre. The second novel was much more polished and the parts that kind of missed (or at least made me wonder if they missed, re: Seriously? a review of Michael Burke’s Swan Dive) had been fleshed out. This made for a more fluid read, but also lacked some of the rawness that I tend to enjoy in the early work of an author.

Excellent book — very entertaining again. Worth the read. The Kindle edition, however, has some odd, consistent formatting issues. Words beginning with “th” have those two letters replaced by the pi symbol. Whenever “fi” or “fl” appear together, they disappear (like oor for floor or door and terri  ic for terrific). Whenever “ft” appear together they are replaced by a backward “K,” which is the symbol for third strike (caught looking) in baseball symbology. Finally the print sized changed every couple of pages. I was understandably unhappy with this to begin with (and still am considering I bought the book for full price), but I decided to just read it and see if I had trouble. After a couple of pages it was fine, my mind almost automatically substituting letters for symbols and blank spaces. It’s funny to notice the recurrence of words in the book that are tagged by these aberrations (file, floor, door, for example). I don’t know if they’re used more in PI novels, but it feels like it now.

Burke, Michael. Music of the Spheres. New York: Pleasure Boat Studio, 2011.

 

Seriously? a review of Michael Burke’s Swan Dive

I love the PI genre. All of them. But in particular the curvy-plotted, smart-alecky character driven ones. This novel fell into that category. But its short coming was the fact that it so thoroughly clung to the genre itself. This led, at least I think, to the writing being somewhat hackneyed in places. I say, “I think,” because it’s sometimes hard to tell if it’s tongue-in-cheek or just a shortcut.

This is perhaps best summed up in the sex scene in chapter 17 (I read the Kindle version which gives me “locations” so I’m going to use the book’s chapters as points of reference). Much of the first person narrative is given over to Johnny “Blue” Heron’s pornographic daydreaming, which is fun and self-consciously shallow (to the point of becoming quasi-philosophical — another thing that draws me to these types of PI stories). So near the convoluted (that’s a good thing) climax of the novel, Heron has a graphically recorded sexual encounter with one of the main characters, Helen Plumworth. It’s a perfect spot to consider the novel because the pornographic reveries and the action of the novel collide and because writing a sex scene is difficult. It’s easy to slip into either mawkish romanticism or ridiculous objective description. So in a lot of ways this is the narrative voice’s climax as well. The result? Still not sure: “I think my cock must have jumped like a released jack-in-the-box.” Then more graphic sex play, which, again, jibes with the confessionally pornographic daydreams Herron indulges in (“I’ve always thought the best way to deal with metaphysical shudders was to cover them with pornographic fantasies” chapter 22). Then: “She lay against me, from head to toe like the statues of Shiva and Shakti welded together. The docent at the museum said it was not erotic, that it was the merging of her rationality with his emotion. Perhaps that explained why I never took religion seriously.” This seems entirely out of place. Ridiculous. But it works too. Daydreaming sex helps him deal with the world; ironically, he can’t seem to help himself from daydreaming museums in the middle of an unfettered physical encounter. That’s funny.

The absurdity of the genre, then, seems to play a role in this fairly straight-forward PI novel. Burke manages to use the tropes of the genre to further the voice (the smart-alecky PI that I love so much) as well as call it into question. I’ll leave you with this Bulwer-Lyttonesque quote to prove the point: “This group was wound together so tightly that if one strand broke the whole mess would fly apart like a house with a gas leak when a chain smoker drops by to follow up on an illicit affair with the bored housewife” (chapter 13). Seriously?

Another thought: use of plays in the novel suggest not only an undercurrent of dramatic action but also that “all the world’s a stage” and so this is a drama within a drama. Furthers the somewhat tongue-in-cheek quality of the book while casting suspicion, at least initially, on the literary ability of Burke to push the boundaries of the genre. And perhaps, after all, he had no intention of doing that.

Overall: **** I bought the second book (Music of the Spheres). The plot turned and twisted enough so that I was surprised and impressed while the voice also steaded and became engrossing. Great book.

Burke, Michael. Swan Dive. New York: Pleasure Boat Studio, 2009.

 

 

Senses

“It’s my belief that only experiencing and understanding truly disembodied cognition — only seeing the coldness and deadness and disconnectedness of something that really does deal in pure abstraction, divorced from sensory reality — can snap us out of it. Only this can bring us, quite literally, back to our sense.” (69) “Mind vs. Machine” by Brian Christian in The Atlantic MAR2011.

This is quite interesting when considered in conjunction with James Geary’s I Is an Other: The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World in which he discusses at great lengths the importance of metaphor and it’s connection (evolutionarily) with our senses. Perhaps we are just becoming more aware of our senses again though they never left us, as is apparent in our use of metaphor and understanding of the world through language.

Topography of a Phantom City by Alain Robbe-Grillet (Annotation)

Alain Robbe-Grillet, author of the Nouveau Roman (or New Novel) movement, always challenges readers and their conception of reality. Topography of a Phantom City (out of print) is no exception. Repetition and shifts in point of view and time make this novel a brilliant example of the movement and Robbe-Grillet’s talents in engendering a sense of dislocation (both in place and time).

“Repeatedly upon a time (in fact one could say as a rule)…” the narrator says late in the novel (98). This touches on several of the main ideas including myth, routine and self-awareness. The same stories are told over and over in variations creating a mythological story. Plays shift to diagrams shift to observation from a first person narrator shifts seamlessly to third person point of view. It’s hard to see where these shifts occur, but all of a sudden you’re in the present tense and seeing the action from a different vantage point. As an example near the end, the first person narrator (a detective) says, “Then a fresh figure in the ballet-fight emerges on the cross-ruled sheet with the simplified strictness of a diagram.” (111) This is a compact example but even here, in this one sentence, visual action (ballet-fight) turns into a diagram (lines and arrows). That doesn’t change the “fact” or reality of what is happening, just the way the reader (and presumably the narrator) sees the action (as motion, as design for motion).

Time, too, is stunted and elongated all at once to the point where things (or nothing) happens seemingly simultaneous: “Some seconds, or some hours, or some years later the white hand has smashed the liquid mirror and obliterated the reflected image, the long transparent night dress, the face bent over, the wide-open eyes. And when D.H. pushes the door the room is empty like the rest of the house.” (58) The action, which happened at some unspecified moment, like a projector being turned off, reverberates for the reader, if not for D.H. (though even that seems to be open to interpretation — he walks through the house almost creating these past moments). Layers of meta-reality. While these shifts are disconcerting, they are gradually disconcerting, like when you wake up from a dream and it takes you a minute to understand where you are. Not the surreal dream-logic of nightmares, hallucination or dreams. And after all this is a novel of metaphor: it challenges our worldview, as the Nouveau Roman writers intended.

Writers I was put in mind of while I read this: Robert Coover (A Night at the Movies, or, You Must Remember This), Samuel Beckett and Hans Erich Nossack (An Offering for the Dead)

I heard this quoted in a song (or possibly a movie) recited with ambient sounds. I was struck by the power of the language but now I cannot remember where I heard it. Does anyone out there know?

“Our ears are full of the invisible buzzing of the insects singing on all sides simultaneously. We are in the country, before the first war, or toward the end of the last century, in a land with no parents and no boys, as usual. … We have not spoken for days and days. I think we have lost the power of speech.” (99)

Robbe-Grillet, Alain. Topology of a Phantom City. New York: Grove Press, 1977.

Data min[d]ing

According to a recent Science Magazine article [abstract] titled Google Opens Books to New Cultural Studies by John Bohannon, Erez Lieberman Aiden, a PhD student, devised software to analyse the words of the scanned books in Google Books without breaking any copyright laws. “By converting the text of the scanned books into a single, massive “n-gram” database–a map of the context and frequency of words across history–scholars could do quantitative research on the tomes without actually reading them.” The result is that they were able to consider cultural ebbs and flows that were hard to detect before. Things like marginalized groups of people (they are able to see the rise and fall of particular names, for example, within a particular time frame, say before and during the rule of the Nazis).

I love this kind of information. This mathematical determination of culture through language of words, as it were. Puts me in mind of Franco Moretti’s Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History in which he considers a grander scheme of literary history through graphs and other visual/mathematical means and how it changes. Intelligent, pattern seeking work. Some good mini-essays on the book from The Valve.

AWP & DC

My recent trip to DC in list form with random photos and thoughts.

Places I visited in the city:

  • The apartment (my nest for the trip) of my good buddy and long-time friend (since elementary school in Morocco), Jared (proprietor of two comic book stores and Mars Import)
  • The Liberty Tavern
  • Bier Baron (formerly Brikskeller — Dupont Circle): 500+ beers. Dark brick cellar. Low ceiling. Narrow and long. Beer cans along the wall in places (including on the landing on the way down the stairs). Like the place in New Braunfels Wurstfest. The stools are made of old barrels, small, and mounted on metal legs. The seats are covered in maroon naugahyde. Had Schlafly Coffee Stout; Baltika #4 (Russian) 5.6% sweet, full-flavored, malty; The Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout full, milky, chocolatey; tried Rick’s Rauchbier Marzen v. smoky; Jared’s Banana Bread Beer also v. good
  • Pizza Paradiso (Dupont Circle)
  • Northside Social (Clarendon Metro)
  • Tomo Sushi (Rosslyn)
  • Froggy Bottom (Washington Circle)
  • Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café (Dupont Circle): Belhaven Scottish Stout excellent
  • Minh’s Restaurant (Clarendon Metro): angel wings again — chicken drumsticks stuffed with minced pork and onion and other angelic things
  • Lebanese Taverna (Woodley Park Metro): Lebanese beer Almaza, expensive but good food
  • Open City (Woodley Park Metro): Heavy Seas Peg Leg Imperial Stout nutty & full v. little aftertaste; Palm Ale
  • iPoh (Woodley Park Metro): good pad thai (a little salty)
  • Pete’s Apizza (Columbia Heights Metro): tasty slice
  • Wonderland Ballroom (Columbia Heights Metro): readings upstairs which was crowded
  • Pharmacy (18th St): Porkslap Pale Ale– good; great can/label
  • Ben’s Chili Bowl (U St Metro): Chili Half Smoke: some thoughts on my excellent experience here: African American comfort food/cultural base; busy the whole time I was there; plastic baskets and wax paper; half-smoke loaded with chili, slightly bitter — which means cooked right — onions and mustard; UTE chips on the side; the guy, 60, next to me at the counter played old funk on the jukebox; he struck up a conversation with an Indian woman who ordered hot black tea (“two bags to make it strong”). I looked over and suddenly, happily I’m part of the conversation: you’re young, she said to me after briefly lauding the health benefits of tea (“I don’t drink — my husband, well — and I’m 53 and nothing wrong with me at all. How old are you, to the funk-blaring African American guy who started this lovely impromptu grab.) Him, she pointed at me. He’s young. Probably 28. Ha! I laughed, I’m 34. See, she said. Young. They laugh good naturedly. You could be my son. We all laugh about that then she says goodbye and I go back to my chili half smoke with gusto; such an excellent experience; all my senses pulsing: food, music/conversation, the warmth of sitting at the counter between people in front of the food being prepped, sausage, burgers, chili, the folks behind the counter ribbing each other and moving back and forth taking orders, plopping down baskets of burgers and half smoked in that relaxed friendly manner, their banter, the sizzle of the half smoked on the flat griddle; the opposite of sensory deprivation
  • 18th Amendment (Capital Hill): 18th Amendment Ale and Cajun Crawfish Mac ‘n’ Cheese, way, way too rich
  • Whitlow’s on Wilson (Clarendon Metro): Buttermilk Pancakes w/sausage & potatoes. Mmmmm.
  • Georgetown University campus
  • Bridge Street Books (Georgetown)
  • Tenleytown to a friend’s for the Superbowl (yay, Packers)
  • Potbelly (Chinatown)
  • Smithsonian Institute of Air & Space (The Mall): Earth Today Program: a screen with an image of the earth rotating displaying different maps (like heat); a creepy feminine robotic voice read information about the maps and, for example, aerosols — this is the latest map for aerosols, there has been a 8% increase in the levels of aerosols at the equator (that number is made up, but you get the idea)
  • District Chophouse & Brewery (North of The Mall on 7th): Bourbon Stout a tang of sweetness — the bourbon, which then settles into a slight alcohol taste and trips lightly off the tongue (description from the board: “oatmeal stout aged in Woodford Reserve barrels”); WeizenBock good, strong wheat taste, like a good dunkel (reminds me of the first dunkel I had all those years ago @ the downtown Seattle Gordon Biersch) cloudy amber color (description: “strong Bavarian wheat ale”)
  • Iota (Clarendon Metro): Racer 5 Pale Ale — light and smooth
  • EatBar (Clarendon Metro): the best meal that I had all trip (and I had some damn good ones) — chicken and waffles
  • My friend Rick’s place for a Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter: delicious
  • And of course the Marriott and Omni where the conference took place ->

AWP panels & such (friends that I ran into planned and unplanned — Forrest Roth, Bill Owen, Jane Sprague, Jodiann Stevens):

  • Several hours at the bookfair portion at the Goddard table (with such wonderful people as Barbara DeCesare, Susan Kim, Will Mallon, Chris Mackowski, Metta Sama, Michael Klein, Karen Engelmann, Elena Georgiou, Reuben Jackson and more)
  • The bookfair spread out along several rooms resembled some kind of underground city of language, image and talk
  • Best of the West: New Stories from the Wide Side of the Missouri (now published @ UT Austin) (Seth Horton, Kent Meyers, Aurelie Sheehan, Kent Nelson, Kirstin Valdez Quade, Mitch Wieland): interesting introduction by Kent Meyers about outlaws in Western lit.; Kirstin Valdez’s piece was humorous and smart; other readings good too
  • Honoring Robert Coover (Maya Sonenberg, Robert Coover, Kate Bernheimer [her piece read by Aurelie Sheehan], Mary Caponegro, Brian Evenson, Matthew Derby): Coover read an incredible story that his wife, who he said reads everything, didn’t even know about; brilliant, funny — excellent Coover; Matthew Derby’s piece also resonated in that way
  • Understanding Comics as Creative Writing (John Woods, Matt Madden, Gary Sullivan, Luca DiPierro, Joseph Young): standing room only; interesting and informative, though I was already familiar with Matt Madden (one of the reasons I went) and Oubapo/Oulipo, of course
  • Hint Fiction: Stories that Prove Less Is More (Robert Swartwood [ed. of Norton Anthology], Randall Brown, Michael Martone, Daniel Olivas, Roxane Gay): I’m not sure if they were all there (I think on of them wasn’t — they packed them in for this too); Michael Martone was fun to listen to but they were all interesting and intelligent; one of them (Daniel Olivas) suggested that the ritual of breaking a glass is an interesting starting point for consideration of story and their lengths: A traditional story puts the glass back together as best it can, so that it looks like a glass; the postmodern story puts it back together but the cracks are visible and it probably doesn’t look like the original glass; hint fiction is a shard of that glass
  • Joyce Carol Oates reading: she read from the bleak memoir about the death of her husband
  • The Road Less Traveled: How to be a Writer Without a Full-time Academic Gig (Cheryl Strayed, Steve Almond, Amy Holman, Ru Freeman, Christian TeBordo, Marisa de los Santos — here again, I think one of them was not there): probably the funniest panel I went to, it also made me think a little harder about giving up on the teaching (something that I really am tired of doing) — the point is that I want to write, not teach — and write and do other things as I can; Ru Freeman gave a cynical (hilarious) view of what you need to do to be a writer without a full-time academic gig: 1. marry someone with a decent, steady income and health benefits (check) 2. convince yourself that any job is soulless and will suck the life out of you (check) 3. &tc. there was more (all of which I checked off); but it also made me realize that I’m not alone in the life I’m currently living (frankensteining jobs together to create an income, no I just need to write…);  risk-taking can be a large part of the writing life
  • Gray Wolf Press reading
  • Small Press Publishing and Pedagogy (Elizabeth Robinson, Laura Moriarty, Charles Alexander, Jane Sprague, Sasha Steensen): some excellent small press publications that were handed out for our perusal (e.g. Clump, Imaginary Syllabi); the panel was intelligent and interesting

Events in the news:

  • Protests in Egypt following the toppling of the Tunisian government
  • Suicide bomb in Domodedova airport in Moscow
  • A new government in Lebanon
  • Arctic blast hits Texas — San Antonio is colder than DC

Some photos of places here and there:

A final event/encounter at the Atlanta airport on the way back to SA: went to the Last Call bar where the woman behind the counter, Carlotta, greeted everyone in a friendly, slightly distracted air. Soon she cracked jokes with me and talked about the Super Bowl. Then a dude comes in and retorted in a loud, jovial tone when she asked him for his ID how he was almost 80 and she was asking for his ID (he was probably in his 50s), “they took away my KY Jelly,” he said, “and you want to see my ID…” She joked with him until a woman showed up and sat next to him. He quieted down a lot. I don’t know if he knew the woman or not but Carlotta said to me at one point, “she sure calmed him down, huh?”

Airports are a source of constantly changing “regulars.” I was a regular because I had sat down just before he did and I was quiet (“normal”?). It’s all about meeting people and being much friendlier than you normally would with them because you’re both hopping on planes and traveling to different parts of the country or world. Tenuous contrails create effervescent, evanescent human bonds (champagne & planes).

Then an old guy sat down next to me (about 15 minutes after the talker had been seated). He ordered a hot dog and a glass of Coors Light. “ID?” Carlotta asked (she was obligated to). “Haw! Haw!”: the talker. The old guy said to me, “she doesn’t know how old I am.” He showed me his Korean War Civilian ID still tucked away in his wallet. I asked questions. He answered as he ate his meal (“do you have onions and relish?”) and tapped salt lightly into his beer:

  1. He was in the invasion of France on D-Day, but not at Normandy. Marseilles. No resistance. He did something on ships and submarines.
  2. He was on an emergency trip back to Michigan. His wife, who doesn’t accompany him to S. Florida where he spends four winter months a year swimming, running and playing softball (he has been to the Senior’s Softball World Championship [maybe one of these guys is him] and won — he’s a pitcher for his team) had fallen outside in Michigan and hurt herself and was laying there in the freezing cold for hours, alone. When he couldn’t get in touch with her, he finally called his neighbor and asked him to check on her. As we sat there talking she was in the hospital with injuries and frost bite.
  3. His son, he told me after I said where I was headed (home), died a couple of months ago in San Antonio. “Sorry,” I said. “Ah,” he responded, “his body was riddled with cancer.”
  4. He had the Civilian ID in the Korean War so that “they would know how to treat me if I was caught. Wouldn’t shoot me as a spy.” He was a psychologist doing research about the stress of war on infantry soldiers.

He finished his hot dog and then patted me on the shoulder as he got up to leave: “Good luck, San Antonio.”

The Notting Hill Mystery

“Here again events each in itself quite simple and natural, combine to form a story fraught with terrible suspicion.” (567) Such is the story of The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Felix (Charles Warren Adam). The postmodern nature of the story is striking. Pieces of correspondence, a map of a house, part of a letter, depositions, not to mention the fantastic events — like something from a dime store paperback (and discussed in this NYTimes Book Review by Paul Collins). I picked it up because of the review and it was well worth the read. A few thoughts that came up:

  1. Postmodern, too, is the reasoning behind the story: an investigation into insurance fraud.
  2. It is reminiscent of one of my favorite books The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. The whole story is pieced together, though not told, per se, by one person — the investigator Ralph Henderson. He’s constantly suggesting alternate possibilities for the modus operandi, evidence and means of the crime, which he then begins describing again as a crime. E.g., “Still, however, it was possible that this might, after all, be a mere coincidence; and therefore proceeded to make such enquires as seemed most likely to elucidate the point.” (507) Has he already made up his mind? Ultimately it is left up to the reader (or insurance adjusters, as it were) — though it is clear what Mr. Henderson thinks. At one point he records a statement by a Ms. Whitworth that “proves” his point and yet only a minute before he describes her as a “very deaf old person, whose memory was evidently failing, and [who I] was at first unable to extract from her any kind of information on the subject, except that ‘she had a great many lodgers and couldn’t be expected to know about all of them.’” (507-8)
  3. The conclusion could very easily be read first with the remainder of the book serving as a reference. It would be an interesting way to read the book, considering the material that Mr. Henderson picks and choses is like a longer version of the conclusion.

This is an excellent book and a brilliant detective novel. While it may not be the first, it certainly is a fantastic early beacon.

Felix, Charles. The Notting Hill Mystery. New York: Arno Press, 1976.

Lint by Chris Ware (Review)

Lint by Chris Ware

Since doing my graduate work in creative writing in which I focused quite a bit on the boundaries (or lack thereof) between art and writing, I’ve been particularly interested in comics & graphic novels. My first experience with Chris Ware was his Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Kid on Earth. Since then I haven’t been able to put his work down, even though it is generally bleak (the humor is muted and sometimes far between but existent and very funny). Lint is no exception to this rule. What I was drawn to originally and still is the unconventional use of space and frames (as well as the geometric shapes, which at first glance seem extra cartoonish, but later prove an intriguing and complex visualization of theme). The art creates a controlled chaos in line with my own view of the world. Lint, like Jimmy Corrigan, is about a philosophy of existence as the book traces the life of Jordan Lint. It encompasses the birth and death of the main character, fading in and out, as it were, in that signature Ware spacial/temporal conception.

One of the things I was amazed by, again, and always am when I read Ware, is that even though he does not use linear frames (that is a consistent reading of left to right, then down a line, and then left to right), the reader doesn’t get lost (or at least I don’t). All the movement up and down the page and then left and right for a third of it, all the words that are lost behind frames and cross the borders, all the fonts that overlap and garble perfectly represents how the mind and the act of memory work. The bits and pieces that we recall from events. The whole story of our lives lost to underlying beliefs and frameworks, just like the ones that drive Jordan Lint through his. Religion is at least part of that framework as it plays a prominent role in Lint’s early years and then reappears later in life. While I’m not a religious person, I wonder how going to church as a child (I’ll resist the urge to say being forced to go to church — there it is anyway) and the culture that it instilled in me has developed my life. The way I react to stimuli. The way I feel. Ware does a really good job of showing how that plays out in Lint’s life. The underpinning of death in the church and its distance from and dissonance to his young life. But ultimately it is the immediacy of his own concerns and ensuing actions that results in his own lonely death.

Like I said, an unrelentingly dim book devoid of nearly all humor, as far as I could tell (granted I was already in a fairly dark mood — that may have played a role in overlooking the subtle humor Ware tends to exhibit). But it was well done and exciting to read because of the intelligence and idiosyncrasy Chris Ware brings to the book and the life of Lint.

Short Rats Read 2011

  • Whose Egypt?” by Adam Shatz (a look at the changing face of the revolution and now counter-revolution in Egypt). LRB 5JAN12 (12.27.11)
  • What a Difference a Decade Makes” by Ruth Franklin (a look at the resurgence of the short story). Prospect Magazine 14DEC11 (12.27.11)
  • What We Talk about When We Talk about Anne Frank” [abstract] by Nathan Englander. The New Yorker 12DEC11 (12.23.11)
  • The Ally from Hell” by Jeffrey Goldberg & Marc Ambinder (Pakistan is a necessary evil for the US — its nuclear arsenal must remain safe). The Atlantic DEC11 (12.21.11)
  • Synthesis and Ambivalence” by Sam Sacks (fiction is in a transition between experimental and traditional modes). Wall Street Journal 17DEC11 (12.20.11)
  • Christopher Hitchens: ‘the consumate writer, the brilliant friend‘” by Ian McEwan (remembrance of Hitchens in his final days in which he never betrayed himself or his skills as a writer). The Guardian 16DEC11 (12/19/110
  • Trial of the Will” by Christopher Hitchens (the author takes the term “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” to task). Vanity Fair JAN12 (12/16/11)
  • Foucault What Is an Author” by Michel Foucault (the philosopher considers the role of “author” in different fields). (12/13/11)
  • Decline, Fall, Rinse, Repeat” by Adam Gopnik [abstract] (a look at the declinist inclined nature recently of the West and how that attitude is probably more likely to cause a decline than anything else). The New Yorker 12SEPT11 (12/12/11)
  • “China: Boom or Bust?” by Barbara Pollack (is the art investment in China a bubble ready to bust? not likely). Art in America OCT11 (Academic Search Complete) (12/12/11)
  • “The Global Culture War” by Eleanor Heartney (the author discusses specific religious attacks on particular artists’ work around the world). Art in America OCT11 (Academic Search Complete) (12/12/11)
  • In Ciudad Juárez” by Elisabeth Ladenson (the author ventures into the city for a conference about violence). London Review of Books 7DEC11 (12/9/11)
  • “How I Got that Story” by Lawrence Weschler (the author discusses how he came about writing his first book entitled Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees). Art in America OCT11 (Academic Search Complete) (12/5/11)
  • A Massacre in Jamaica” by Mattathias Schwartz [abstract] (the extradition of a drug “don” results in the massacre of unarmed civilians). The New Yorker 12DEC11 (12/5/11)
  • If the Serial Killer Gets Us, He Gets Us” by Skip Hollandsworth (a serial killer goes after prostitutes in Houston and during the investigation a rapists and another murderer are put away). Texas Monthly DEC11 (12/3/11)
  • Blue Period” Joan Acocella (a review of three fiction books with sex as a central theme: Smut by Alan Bennett, Helen DeWitt’s Lightenting Rods, and House of Holes: a Book of Raunch by Nicholson Baker). The New Yorker 7NOV11 (12/3/11)
  • Grief and Solemnity” by Colin Dickey. LA Review of Books. 27Nov11. (11/30/11)
  • Authorship in Chinese Experimental Fiction” by Yunzhong Shu. Comparative Civilizations Review. (11/28/11)
  • Richard Duardo’s Aztlan Poster: Interrogating Cultural Hegemony in Graphic Design” by Robin Adèle Greeley. Design Issues Vol. 14 No 1. (21-34) (11/27/11)
  • Natural Fools and the Historiography of Renaissance Folly” by Paromita Chakravarti (the conflicting understanding of folly in Renaissance Europe as seen in literature as opposed to daily life). Renaissance Studies Vol. 25 No. 2 (208—227) (11/21/11)
  • Of Other Spaces (1967) Heterotopias” by Michel Foucault. Foucault.info. (11/20/11)
  • King of Kings” by Jon Lee Anderson (the life and death of Muammar Qaddafi). The New Yorker 7NOV11 (11/18/11)
  • An Unexpected Alliance” by Lee Spiegel (Groucho Marx and TS Eliot make strange epistolary bed fellows). moreintelligentlife.com. 2011 (11/2/11)
  • Pet Lovers, Pathologized” by Kelly Oliver (“Within our philosophy and within our culture, we cannot take seriously our love and dependence on animals without turning them into medicine and making ourselves sick.”)  NYTimes.com 30OCT11 (11/2/11)
  • ‘You Are Not So Smart’: Why We Can’t Tell Good Wine from Bad” by David McRaney. The Atlantic 28OCT11 (11.31.11)
  • Name-o-rama” by Alex Frankel (Naming companies, products and services). Wired. JUN97 (10.31.11)
  • Hizbullah’s Part in Gaddafi’s Downfall” by Charles Glass (Hizbullah and the US side ever so briefly over Libya). London Review of Books Blog. 24OCT11. (10.28.11)
  • ‘Seeing Gertrude Stein’ Overlooks Alleged Collusion with Fascists” by T.L. Ponick. The Washington Times. 13OCT11 (10.19.11)
  • Will the E-Book Kill the Footnote?” by Alexandra Horowitz. The New York Times. 7OCT11 (10.17.11)
  • Why Don’t You Dance?” by Raymond Carver. On Library of America. (10.9.11)
  • Springtime for Hitler” by Monica Osborne (a review of Dead Funny: Humor in Hitler’s Germany by Rudolph Herzog). The New Republic. 22AUG11 (9.10.11)
  • Al Qaeda’s Challenge” by William McCants [abstract] (Al Qaeda’s spectacular rise and current struggles after the devastating war in Afghanistan and beyond). Foreign Affairs. SEP/OCT11 (8.30.11)
  • Dog Story” by Adam Gopnik (a personal and cultural history of the dog). The New Yorker 8AUG11 (8.26.11)
  • Sounds Familiar” by John Sutherland (a review of The Words of Others: from Quotations to Culture by Gary Saul Morson in which Sutherland applauds Morson for his wit, intelligence and fairness). Literary Review (8.17.11)
  • Translating the Gorilla” by Marija Stajic (the translator of the Serbian novel The Gorilla writes about her experience translating the book into English). The New Yorker (online) 9APR10 (8.13.11)
  • The Pink Panthers” by David Samuels [abstract] (“A tale of diamonds, thieves and the Balkans”). The New Yorker 12APR10 (8.13.11)
  • The Secret History of Guns” by Adam Winkler (Gun control is really about other cultural issues about which we historically flip-flop — slavery, protection against racism). The Atlantic SEP11 (8.12.11)
  • Arab Spring, Chinese Winter” by James Fallows (China cracks down on an uptick of unrest: does it have something to worry about?). The Atlantic SEP11 (8.11.11)
  • The State of Publishing” by McSweeney’s editors (Publishing and reading are up!). McSweeney’s (8.11.11)
  • How Google Dominates Us” by James Gleick (Review of four books in consideration of how Google, wittingly or not, is changing the face of privacy while facilitating access to information). NYTimes Review of Books 18AUG11 (8.11.11)
  • What Have You Done?” by Ben Marcus [abstract]. The New Yorker 8AUG11 (8.4.11)
  • What I Learned When I Learned to Draw” by Adam Gopnik [abstract] (Thoughts about the art of drawing as well as the process of learning it). The New Yorker 27JUN11 (jun)
  • Getting Bin Laden” by Nicholas Schmidle (An in depth look at Operation Neptune’s Spear, in which special forces killed Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad). The New Yorker 8AUG11 (8.2.11)
  • Do I Repeat Myself?” by John Barth (There is nothing new to say… I can’t go on, I’ll go on). The Atlantic FICTION2011 (8.1.11)
  • The Jargon of the Novel, Computed” by Ben Zimmer (how words are used in fiction and non fiction). New York Times 29JUL11 (8.1.11)
  • A Fable with Slips of Paper Spilling from the Pockets” by Kevin Brockmeier [no link to story] (A man finds a jacket that disperses paper with nearby people’s thoughts). Oxford American Issue55 (7.29.11)
  • Matinée” by Robert Coover [abstract]. The New Yorker 25JUL11 (7.28.11)
  • Creative Misreading” by James Campbell (Translations as rewrite of texts based on ideas of the original author — esp. here Camus and Cocteau). New York Times Book Review (accessed through Academic Search Complete — Ebscohost) 12JUN11 (7.28.11)
  • Over There” by Hendrik Hertzberg [abstract] (Review of A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil Warby Amanda Foreman). The New York Times 1AUG11 (7.28.11)
  • An Academic Author’s Unintentional Masterpiece” by Geoff Dyer ( Michael Fried’s “Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before” refers constantly to what he did, will do or is doing in his book). The New York Times 22JUL11 (7.27.11)
  • Whole Hog” by Philipp Meyer (A trio makes killing the feral hog population delicious). Texas Monthly AUG11 (7.25.11)
  • “The Queen Is Dead” by Jeff Noon (A story about a group of punks in 1979 England. Lots of lists punctuate the story suggesting the emptiness in “thing”: “England was theirs, if only they could find it among the dirt, the puddles, the dust, the damp and the rain, the cracked windows, the grey skies, the litter and the boarded-up shops.” pg. 253). Please (Fiction inspired by The Smiths) edited by Peter Wild — Harper 2009. (7.22.11)
  • Let’s Get Small: The Rise of the Tiny House Movement” by Alec Wilkinson [abstract]. The New Yorker 25JUL11 (7.22.11)
  • What’s a Metaphor for?” by Carlin Romano (a survey of thinking/writing on metaphors). Chronicle of Higher Education 3JUL11 (7.15.11)
  • The Bitch Is Back” by Andrew Corsello (why Ayn Rand and Ayn Rand Assholes are all dicks). GQ 27OCT09 (7.7.11)
  • Writing Is Bad for You” by Rick Gekoski (the perils and jubilation of reading and writing). Guardian 7JUL11 (7.7.11)
  • ‘Why Would You do That, Larry?’: Identity Formation and Humor in Curb Your Enthusiasm” by Benjamin Wright [abstract] (explores the shifting identity of Larry as victim-agitator in cultural & religious frameworks). The Journal of Popular Culture JUN11 (6.29.11)
  • Your English Is Showing” by Tim Parks (the possibility of a skeletal “English” lengua franca under foreign language literature — e.g. Italian, French & German). The New York Review of Books 15JUN11 (6.21.11)
  • Franzen’s Ugly Americans Abroad” by Tim Parks (a look at Franzen’s uniquely American perspective and its popularity overseas — it’s likeable because it rejects ugly Americans). The New York Review of Books 11MAY11 (6.21.11)
  • The Language of Work” by Mark Kingwell (the introduction to The Wage Slave’s Glossary by Joshua Glenn). Harper’s JUNE11 (6.19.11)
  • Bit Lit” by Brian Hayes (Ngrams and the Google Ngram Viewer). American Scientist MAY/JUNE11 (6.18.11)
  • Are Artists Liars?” by Ian Leslie (“this is why we felt it necessary to invent art in the first place: as a safe space into which our lies can be corralled, and channelled into something socially useful”). More Intelligent Life. (6.18.11)
  • Ode to a Four-Letter Word” by Kathryn Shulz (the poetry of profanity). New York Magazine 6JUN11 (6.18.11)
  • In the Atomic City” by Millicent G. Dillon (“Life in a Secret Nuclear Facility at the Dawn of the Arms Race”). The Believer JUN11 (6.14.11)
  • An Occasional Hobo” by Robert Ito [abstract] (the life and times of hobo expert Josiah Flynt Willard). The Believer JUN11 (6.14.11)
  • Andropov Was Right” by Tariq Ali (the course of events leading up to and through the Russian “invasion” by the 40th Army of Afghanistan). London Review of Books 16JUN11 (6.10.11)
  • The Lazarus File” by Matthew McGough (a cold case brings to light an unlikely homicide suspect who works right in the LAPD). The Atlantic JUN11 (6.2.11)
  • The Mighty Pen” by Simon Blackburn (a review of How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One by Stanley Fish: “The philosopher Frege said that only in the context of a sentence do words have meaning. Fish agrees, as did Wittgenstein: ‘The world is everything that is the case.’”) The New Republic 27APR11 (6.1.11)
  • Reading Deeply” by Todd Gitlin (a review of The Use and Abuse of Literature by Marjorie Garber: Literature “‘is not simply a clever kind of code developed by the mind to ensure that we all possess a mental Rolodex of figures enabling the nimble linking and blending of commonly held thoughts. It does not merely frame concepts or conceptual metaphors in pleasing or memorable phrases. Language makes meaning, or rather, meanings; it does not merely reflect it.’”) The New Republic (powells.com review-a-day) 15APR11 (4.19.11)
  • Engines of Progress” by Mark Reutter (a review of Prime Movers of Globalization: The History and Impact of Diesel Engines and Gas Turbines by Vaclav Smil: “While these machines have received little attention, Smil writes, they have “led to epochal shifts in world affairs,” most noticeably the rise of China as the world’s manufacturing hub. A modern container ship such as China Shipping Container Lines’ Xin Los Angeles can transport 24 times more goods than the first container vessels could in the late 1950s. Moreover, it can be loaded and offloaded about 20 times faster than in the days of grappling hooks and sweaty longshoremen, by cranes that are themselves usually powered by diesel engines.”) The Wilson Quarterly (powells.com review-a-day) 10APR11 (4.12.11)
  • The Magic of David Foster Wallace’s Unfinished ‘King‘” by Daniel Roberts (a review of Pale King by David Foster Wallace). NPR (powells.com review-a-day) 12APR11 (4.11.11)
  • After Dark” by Chloe Schama (a review of Pleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New Eroticism by Deborah Lutz: “It is undeniably fascinating, and Lutz has done an admirable job of assembling juicy examples of Victorian eccentricity (Walter, of My Secret Life, being a prime example).”) The New Republic (powells.com review-a-day) 8APR11 (4.8.11)
  • Diary: Assault on the Via Salaria” by Ian Thomson (“It was still snowing when I found wedged behind a cupboard a cranial X-ray of the previous occupant of the flat. He had had a fractured skull. He too was an Englishman; he too had sustained a haematoma.”) London Review of Books 14APR11 (4.7.11)
  • In Praise of Distraction” by James Surowiecki (“…as the psychologist Roy Baumeister puts it, will power is like a muscle: overuse temporarily exhasts it. The implication is that asking people to regulate their behavior without interruption (by, say, never going online at work) may very well make them less focussed and less effective.”) The New Yorker 11APR11 (4.6.11)
  • Pitchers and Catchers” by Moe Berg (“With Montaigne, we conceiveof Socrates in place of Alexander, of brain for brawn, wit for whip.And this brings us to a fascinating part of the pitcher-hitter drama:Does a hitter guess? Does a pitcher try to outguess him? When thepitching process is no longer mechanical, how much of it is psycho-logical? When the speed of a Johnson or a Grove is fading or gone,can the pitcher outguess the hitter?). Library of America (Story of the Week) from Baseball: A Literary Anthology (4.6.11)
  • Get Smart” by Adam Gopnik [abstract] (“What do we really mean by ‘smart’? The ability to continually diminish the area of what we mean by it.”) The New Yorker 4APR11 (4.2.11)
  • Modernity’s Undoing” by Pankaj Mishra (a review of A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan: “Here, in this brisk reckoning with the event that has been the undoing of many distinguished writers, Egan commemorates not only the fading of a cultural glory but also of the economic and political supremacy that underpinned it.”) London Review of Books 31MAR11 (4.2.11)
  • The Vivid World of Odors” by Maya Pines (“Our culture places such low value on olfaction that we have never developed a proper vocabulary for it.” ”‘It would be nice if one smell corresponded to a short wavelength and another to a long wavelength, such as rose versus skunk, and you could place every smell on this linear scale,’ says Randall Reed, an HHMI investigator at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who has long been interested in olfaction.”) Howard Hughes Medical Institute (4.2.11)
  • Sarah Vowell Digs into Hawaii’s Troubled History” by Jeff Baker (a review of Unfamiliar Fishes: “Foreign traders had been stopping by the islands since Capt. James Cook stumbled onto them in 1778. The arrival of the missionaries, and the conflicts between them and the traders, is colorfully described by Vowell as “representing opposing sides of America’s schizophrenic divide — Bible-thumping prudes and sailors on leave. Imagine if the Hawaii Convention Center in Waikiki hosted the Values Voters Summit and the Adult Entertainment Expo simultaneously — for forty years.”). The Oregonian (powells.com review-a-day) 31MAR11 (3.31.11)
  • Mental Maps” by Richard Restak (a review of Antonio Damasio’s Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain: “According to Damasio, we can best understand the brain as a series of maps that are ‘changing from moment to moment to reflect the changes that are happening in the neurons that feed them,’ much like an electronic billboard on which the display can be ‘rapidly drawn, redrawn, and overdrawn at the speed of lightning.’”) The Wilson Quarterly (powells.com review-a-day) 29MAR11 (3.30.11)
  • Go on, Please…” by Kevin Smokler (a review of The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time by David L. Ulin.) Rain Taxi (powells.com review-a-day) 28MAR11 (3.30.11)
  • Fantasy for People Who Hate Fantasy” by Doug Brown (a review of Song of Ice and Fire Boxed Set by George R.R. Martin). (powells.com review-a-day) 26MAR11 (3.26.11)
  • Rollingwood” by Ben Marcus (excellent website) [abstract] (a bleak but more traditional story from the one of the great American experimental writers). The New Yorker 21MAR11 (3.24.11)
  • The Nuclear Risk” by Elizabeth Kolbert (the damage done to the  Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant by earthquake and tsunami makes American’s reconsider [again] our use of nuclear power ). The New Yorker 28MAR11 (3.24.11)
  • James Gleick Keeps Processing New Information” by Marc Mohan (a review of The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick: “Gleick’s skill as an explicator of counterintuitive concepts makes the chapters on logic, the stuff even most philosophy majors slept through in class, brim with tension. It’s quite possible, one realizes, that the most revolutionary statement of the 20th century was Bertrand Russell’s paradox, which seems like mere sophistry, but is in fact a consciousness-altering revelation: ‘S is the set of all sets that are not members of themselves.’”) The Oregonian (powells.com review-a-day) 24MAR11 (3.24.11)
  • The Refugee” by Jane Rice. American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from 1940s to Now. The Library of America. An interesting story of a werewolf that takes place during WWII in England. (3.23.11)
  • Walled States, Waning Sovereignty” by Jacob Mikanowski (a review of the book by the same title by Wendy Brown: “As a sort of visual boast, walls seek to shore up the psychic space of the nation, but like all boasts, they point to an underlying vulnerability.” “The darker impulses behind wall-building, those that have to do with feelings of repulsion and superiority, and hatreds so deep they make townspeople not even want to see their neighbors, aren’t given much space in Walled States, Waning Sovereignty.”) Bookslut (powells.com review-a-day) 20MAR11 (3.23.11)
  • Made in Texas” by Hanna Raskin (distilleries in Texas, specifically those that make bourbon, and their philosophies). Houston Press 16MAR11 (3.19.10)
  • Is Death Different?” by Marie Gottschalk (a review of Peculiar Institution: America’s Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition by David Garland: ”Beginning with the Gregg decision in 1976, which essentially reinstated the death penalty, the Supreme Court has ratified a series of ‘civilizing reforms’ that are ‘often more intent on concealing distressing events than on abolishing them, and their effect has sometimes been to sustain capital punishment by making it less visible and therefore more tolerable,’ according to Garland.” ”Many of the institutional and political forces that [Garland] identifies as having given the death penalty a new lease on life also appear to have fueled mass incarceration and, in particular, the hyper-incarceration of African-Americans.”)  The New Republic (powells.com review-a-day) 18MAR11 (3.19.11)
  • How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming” by Richard Wirick (a review of the book by the same title by Mike Brown). Bookslut (powells.com review-a-day) 16MAR11 (3.16.11)
  • The Old Story” by James Morris (a review of Never Say Die: The Myth and Marketing of the New Old Age by Susan Jacoby [with reference to Ted C Fishman]: “Buried deep in Fishman’s book is an inspired subhead, a backhanded (backsided?) homage to the columnist Thomas L. Friedman: ‘The World Is Flatulent.’ The page is a nice example of how the macro-minded Fishman can also narrow his range, here to foresee a future of better bathrooms for the aged: ‘Toilets will sport stylish handrails, lift and drop on command, and even spray water in places that older people have a hard time reaching. And because the physical effects of age befoul the air, the toilet deodorizes its bowl, its user, and the room.’ Well, that’s something.”; “Chances are the young old won’t be cheerleaders for longevity when they cross the line to join the old old, the shuttered, stumbling, ailing, diapered, defecating, delusional, and adrift old.”; “When Sophocles was near 90, he wrote Oedipus at Colonus, and his chorus sang that anyone who wants a long life is a fool; not to be born is best, but next best is to die as soon as possible. Amen to them both.”) The Wilson Quarterly (powells.com review-a-day) 15MAR11 (3.16.11)
  • The Benefits of Distraction” by Sam Anderson (“It’s possible that we’re all evolving toward a new techno-cognitive nomadism, a rapidly shifting environment in which restlessness will be an advantage again.”) New York Magazine 17MAY11 (3.12.11)
  • Anarchy through the Ages” by Chris Faatz (a review of Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism by Peter Marshall). (powells.com review-a-day) 12MAR11 (3.12.11)
  • Smarter, Happier, More Productive” by Jim Holt (a review and general refutation of Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows — Holt considers why Carr thinks negatively about he internet like why he’s worried about its distractive nature when distraction is an age-old human condition). London Review of Books 3MAR11 (3.11.11)
  • The Docks” by John Pattison (review of The Docks by Bill Sharpsteen — a consideration of the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach which are vast, unseen infrastructures). Books & Cultures (powells.com review-a-day) 9MAR11 (3.9.11)
  • Four-Color Metaphors” by Richard Oyama (review of Missing You, Metropolis by Gary Jackson — poems using superheros as central metaphors for the African-American experience and more). Rain Taxi (powells.com review-a-day) 7MAR11 (3.9.11)
  • Mind vs. Machine” by Brian Christian (consideration of the Turing Test and what it really means to us as humans — our “reactive, responsive, sensitive, nimble” minds). The Atlantic MAR11 (3.3.11)
  • 40-Year-Old Man Draws with Markers — And It’s Brilliant” by Kevin Carollo (review of It Is Right to Draw Their Fur: Animal Renderings by Dave Eggers). Rain Taxi (powells.com review-a-day) 28FEB11 (3.2.11)
  • U.S.-Taliban Talks” by Steve Coll (talks with the Taliban are necessary for political gains and troop withdrawl). The New Yorker 28FEB11 (2.25.11)
  • The Answer Factory: Demand Media and the Fast, Disposable, and Profitable as Hell Media Model” by Daniel Roth (Demand uses algorithms to try to predict what people will search for: “Instead of trying to raise the market value of online content to match the cost of producing it — perhaps an impossible proposition — the secret is to cut costs until they match the market value.”). Wired 19OCT10 (2.23.11)
  • Transatlantic Poet” by Troy Jollimore (a review of The Age of Auden: Postwar Poetry and the American Scene by Aidan Wasley). The Wilson Quarterly (powells.com review-a-day) 22FEB11 (2.23.11)
  • The Moral Crusade against Foodies” by B.R. Myers (on the illogical self-obsessed Bourdainian oafishness of foodies — kinda). The Atlantic MAR11 (2.21.11)
  • How Skyscrapers Can Save the City” by Edward Gaeser (building up can make the city more affordable and keep it alive). The Atlantic MAR11 (2.21.11)
  • Drugs and Words” by Laura Marsh (a review of The English Opium Eater: A Biography of Thomas De Quincey by Robert Morrison) The New Republic 15FEB11 (2.18.11)
  • Masters of Peace” by James Gibney (a review of Armed Humanitarians: The Rise of the Nation Builders by Nathan Hodge:  how war and the armed services have changed to incorporate “nation building”). The Wilson Quarterly (powells.com review-a-day) 15FEB11 (2.17.11)
  • Use Value” by Barton Swaim (a language prescriptionist convincingly makes his point by reviewing the different editions of Fowler’s A Dictionary of Modern English Usage). The New Criterion FEB11 (2.17.11)
  • Proust Was a Neurobiologist” by John Lehrer (artists are ahead, scientifically, of their time). news.scotsman.com 13FEB11 (2.15.11)
  • What College Rankings Really Tell Us”  [abstract] by Malcolm Galdwell (considerations of what rankings really show about those who rank them — that is how rankings tend to be a self-fulfilling prophecy of predetermined social values). The New Yorker 14&21FEB11 (2.9.11)
  • Return Of The Grotesque” by Jesse Tangen-Mills (A review of Tales of Woe by John Reed). Rain Taxi (powells.com review-a-day) 7FEB11 (2.7.11)
  • No Man’s Land: The Mystery of Mexico’s Drug Wars” [abstract] by Gary Moore (compare to Murder City by Charles Bowden; “Or was something bigger loose in Mexico — a mass psychopathic bloodlust like a burgeoning plague, killing for no reason but the joy?”). World Affairs: A Journal of Ideas and Debate JAN/FEB11 (2.2.11)
  • Kids These Days” by Michael C. Moynihan (a review of Not Quite Adults: Why 20-Somethings Are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood, and Why It’s Good for Everyone by Richard Settersten and Barbara Ray: again this issue of education in America, though this time higher education; “nearly half of students fail to graduate within six years of enrolling in college … some students simply aren’t cut out for four-year university and would be better served by vocational or technical training”). The Wilson Quarterly (powells.com review-a-day) 1FEB11 (2.2.11)
  • Weekend Warriors” by Clay Latimer (Jousting returns — full contact). Go JAN11 (1.31.11)
  • Swamp Thing” by Peter Koch (skunk ape [smaller bigfoot characterized by it's strong smell] in the florida everglades — fact or fiction?). Go JAN11 (1.31.11)
  • UPDATE — THE NOTTING HILL MYSTERY Is Not the World’s First Detective Novel (blog post) by Steve Lewis (other possible “first” detective novels). Mystery*File 9JAN11 (1.30.11)
  • The Case of the First Mystery Novelist” by Paul Collins (an examination of the true author of the “first” detective novel The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Felix (real name Charles Warren Adams). The New York Times Sunday Book Review 7JAN11 (1.12.11)
  • The Sorrows of Old Werner” by Michael D. Gordin (a review of Beyond Uncertainty: Heisenberg, Quantum Physics, and the Bomb by David C. Cassidy & Heisenberg in the Atomic Age by Cathryn Carson — biographies of Heisenberg). American Scientist (powells.com review-a-day) 30JAN11 (1.30.11)
  • America’s Top Parent: What’s behind the Tiger Mother Craze?” by Elizabeth Kolbert (Memoir or How-to book about browbeating your children into better grades, and everything else). The New Yorker 31JAN11 (1.27.11)
  • Impossible Objects” by Amy Groshek (a review of The Book of Things (Lannan Translations Selection): “In ‘Umbrella,’ ‘the sky watches you blackly from puddles.’ Shoes, ‘protect you / So the road presses softly on you.’ The potato grows with its ‘anus, temperate against the sky.’” Rain Taxi (powells.com review-a-day) 24JAN11 (1.27.11)
  • Embracing Nature’s Imperfections” by Lee Smolin (a review of A Tear at the Edge of Creation: A Radical New Vision for Life in an Imperfect Universe by Marcelo Gleiser: “He argues that the belief that the universe is governed by beautiful equations is a residue of monotheism.” Though this is just a part of his argument, it is argument based on cultural/sociological frameworks and where science fits into them). Scientific American (powells.com review-a-day) 23JAN11 (1.27.11)
  • Communist Manifesto” by Irving Louis Horowitz (a review of A Dictionary of 20th-Century Communism by Silvio Pons). Wilson Quarterly (powells.com review-a-day) 18JAN11 (1.20.11)
  • Forgotten Hero” by John Pistelli (a review of Siegel and Shuster’s Funnyman: The First Jewish Superhero, from the Creators of Superman by Thomas Andrae and Jerry Siegel in which the authors consider the book of sociological readings of Jewish humor and assimilation into American culture as well as reproducing some of the comic book & strip). Rain Taxi (powells.com review-a-day) 17JAN11 (1.20.11)
  • Imagining the Invisible” by Jeremiah James (a review of Image and Reality: Kekul, Kopp, and the Scientific Imagination (Synthesis) by Alan J. Rocke in which the author considers the history of the theory of chemical structure through the vantage point of imagination). American Scientist (powells.com review-a-day) 16JAN11 (1.20.11)
  • Death of the Tiger” [abstract] by Jon Lee Anderson (Tamil Tigers and the Sinhalese majority in Sri Lanka; counterterrorism success; post-war implications for the Tamil population & the democracy of the island). The New Yorker 17JAN11 (1.18.11)
  • Sex on the Brain” by Patrick McDonagh (considers the work being done in the Centre for Studies in Behavioural Neurology at Concordia university and the implications for human sex therapy – pg.12). Concordia Magazine Winter10/11 (1.13.10)
  • After the Revolution” by Robert Boyers (a review of What Ever Happened To Modernism? Gabriel Josipovici in which Boyers examines the return of Modernism as well as Josipovici’s repetitive but enlightening — in equal measures — discussion of the avant-garde). The New Republic 15DEC11 (1.6.11)
  • Hard Core” by Natasha Vargas-Cooper (an examination of the pornography and what the implications really are socially). The Atlantic JAN/FEB11 (1.8.11)
  • Creatures of Other Mould” [abstract] by Avi Davis (“on the dubious clay menagerie of Waldemar Julsrud”). The Believer NOV/DEC10
  • Safe as Houses” [abstract] by Karolina Waclawiak (“an ode to Britain’s history in 1:12 scale”). The Believer NOV/DEC10
  • Other articles from the NOV/DEC10 issue of The Believer.