Articles by Janet Potter

November 6, 2012

Addicted to Weird: An Interview with Jon Ronson 2

Everybody in the book feels in some way as if they’re lost at sea, and are grasping for something to get them through. And the thing that they often grasp for is something that’s kind of irrational, makes no sense, is ridiculous. And it becomes almost a celebration of irrationality as a human character trait to be cherished.

October 25, 2012

Elegy for a Grey Cat: On Grief, Books, and His Dark Materials 15

For grief there’s A Year of Magical Thinking, for breakups there’s A Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing, but what could I read when I lost my cat? Cats usually show up in books as witches or set dressing for spinsters. Then I thought of Philip Pullman.

August 28, 2012

This Book Is Funny: Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette 1

If you ask a bookseller about a novel and they say, “It’s really funny,” you needn’t read that book. It’s bookseller-speak for “this book has little else going for it,” the literary equivalent of a good personality.

July 30, 2012

Immersive Vicarious Dining: Cooking from A Feast of Ice and Fire 5

I suppose it’s a gift of modern life that I was able to cook, host, and eat the night’s feast. It’s more likely that when book six comes out I’ll spend a good deal of time yelling at the characters to thank their chefs.

April 30, 2012

How To Introduce an Author 22

Should a beloved, Pulitzer Prize-winning author have to hear the president of Northwestern’s Jewish students’ society call him Michael Sha-BONE 8 times in 2 minutes? No. Because he flew across the country to speak for 50 minutes in your overheated auditorium and you have the internet.

April 17, 2012

Staff Pick: Lauren Groff’s Arcadia 6

Sometimes I just want to read a book from beginning to end as quickly as possible. Arcadia was perfect for this venture, both because I was immediately in love with it, and because the book itself is about experiences that wrap around you until the outside world fades away.

March 27, 2012

The Camaraderie of the Underrated: JC Gabel Relaunches The Chicagoan 5

Chicago! We’ve got this great chef, and an amazing architect, and these cool music guys, and really good coffee!

October 11, 2011

Scrabble For Cheaters 0

Next Saturday I will be competing (fiercely, one hopes) in Scrabble For Cheaters, a charity tournament to benefit 826CHI, Chicago’s chapter of the national creative writing organization (founded by Dave Eggers) that provides free tutoring, field trips, writing workshops and the like to over 4,000 Chicago students a year. To support their work, and augment […]

September 27, 2011

Play It Again: Neal Stephenson’s Reamde 4

Every video game has a guiding story. “PLUMBER’S GIRLFRIEND CAPTURED BY APE!” was the original game story, and they have evolved from that into worlds of moral quandary.

September 19, 2011

Loving a Monster: Alina Bronsky’s The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine 2

Imagine Sophia from The Golden Girls in Soviet Russia – spewing insults, exaggerating her own worth, bemoaning the state of things. Instead of being surround by three salty dames who deflect her barbs with their own, she’s surrounded by a husband, daughter, and granddaughter whose will to live she has methodically trampled.