Articles by Janet Potter

May 27, 2011

Staff Picks: Richard P. Feynman’s Six Easy Pieces 4

This is not really physics for beginners, then, but extremely advanced physics explained conversationally, so that students with a working knowledge of the sciences will be intrigued and inspired by the majestic complexity of the discipline, even if they can’t grasp it yet.

May 12, 2011

Mad, Mad World: Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test 7

With 40 being the highest score, the psychopath range starts in the mid-20s, but really, I don’t want you feeding my cat if you get more than 10 (although, to be frank, I just gave my cat a 22).

April 30, 2011

A Scarred World: George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones 6

While his world looks like fantasy (bastards! dwarves! whores! knights!), and the action revolves around the question of the seven kingdoms’ throne, the focus is on the clashing relationships and motivations of the people involved in the struggle.

April 26, 2011

A Tiny Inheritance: Edmund de Waal’s The Hare With the Amber Eyes 2

We can never know the people who came before us, but we can own their dining tables, walk the streets they walked, put the Japanese knick-knacks they bought in our pockets, and infuse them with meaning.

March 22, 2011

Aloha, Imperialism: Sarah Vowell’s Unfamiliar Fishes 6

This double-sided approach – a keen insight into the forces of history combined with an appreciative delight in the coincidental – is so unmistakably her own it might as well be called Vowelling.

March 17, 2011

A helping hand 0

This week, Melville House is donating all profits from books purchased on their website to Japan disaster relief.

February 28, 2011

Getting to Know the Presidents: The Presidential Biography Project 27

Much as I love Washington, Adams, and Jefferson, I have a much more personal affection for the likes of Madison and Fillmore.

February 14, 2011

Nerd 1.0: Patton Oswalt’s Zombie Spaceship Wasteland 3

If he’d been in a club getting sweat on by Fugazi, he never would have spent all those nights listening to R.E.M. and reading William Gibson, which gave him the sense of pride that comes from finding something you love and keeping it to yourself.

February 3, 2011

Love Par Avion 1

Paravion Press, a small press born in a small Greek island’s bookshop, print postcard-sized editions of short stories that are designed to be sent by mail, complete with a page for your correspondence and an envelope. To celebrate their Valentine’s publication of Katherine Mansfield’s “Feuille d’Album,” they’re holding a Romantic Haiku Challenge, whose winner will […]

January 31, 2011

Staff Pick: Bleak House and The Dickensian Way 13

You have to embrace Bleak House for what it is – a rambling, confusing, verbose, over-populated, vastly improbable story which substitutes caricatures for people and is full of puns. In other words, an 800-page Dickens novel.