Inter Alia

August 19, 2009

Inter Alia #18: Julia Child and the Ethical Appeal 5

by

Julia Child turns out not only to have been a kind of unfussy feminist; she was also a terrific writer.

March 30, 2009

Inter Alia #17: N1BR, Blazing Saddles, and the Art of Fashionable Lateness 3

by

A prize-winning journalist once told me this story: Early in his career, writing on spec for The Village Voice or some such organ of the alternative press, he had ventured to the set of Blazing Saddles to interview Mel Brooks. Flush with the wine of self-importance, he flourished his press pass for the security guard […]

March 5, 2009

Inter Alia #16: Footnoting D.T. Max’s DFW Piece 15

by

Well, Wyatt Mason beat me to it. Over at his blog, Sentences, the Harper’s critic has registered a couple of cavils with D.T. Max’s powerful, fascinating New Yorker article on David Foster Wallace, “The Unfinished.” First, Mason suggests, Max makes his case for The Broom of the System at the expense of what may be […]

February 9, 2009

Inter Alia #15: Toward a Phenomenology of Snark 2

by

Today on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, David Denby put in an appearance promoting his new book, Snark.

February 5, 2009

Inter Alia #14: My Political Blog Hangover and the Virtues of Finitude 6

by

Among its many peculiar achievements, the Internet seems to have pushed the old “observer effect” – wherein by paying attention to a process we alter its outcome – into the realm of magical thinking. Back during election season, I remember, I had assembled a little rosary of blogs I’d cycle through every day – or, […]

October 17, 2008

Inter Alia #13: Font Wars, the Phantom Menace 2

by

Back in 2001, The Onion published a breathless report from a gala awards ceremony: The Fontys. A few dissenting voices groused about the night’s big winner, Helvetica Bold Oblique – “a bold as best font?” – but ebullience carried the night. “‘A million thanks to all the wonderful folks in the font community who believed […]

August 28, 2008

Inter Alia #12: Tell No One I’m A Literary Snob 2

by

Film critics have lauded the French thriller Ne le dis à personne (Tell No One) with adjectives fit for a personal ad: “taut,” “sexy,” “smart…” Having recently caught a matinee, I’m willing to attest to its tautness. However, the climax reminded me that dramatic smarts entail more than a pensive hero and a Gallic pedigree. […]

June 10, 2008

Inter Alia #11: The Death and Life of Literary Spaces 1

by

Last week, Manhattan’s Mercantile Library emptied the shelves of its shambling, elegant midtown mansion and locked the doors for good. The Merc, one of Old New York’s several private libraries, had occupied its East 47th Street location continuously since 1932, but could no longer outrun the fiscal exigencies of arts funding and NYC real estate. […]

May 15, 2008

Inter Alia #4: International Prizewinners and the Business of Translation 5

by

[Editor's Note: To plug a hole in the Inter Alia series, we've numbered this one out of order.] I know next to nothing about the translation business, except that it is vital to my reading habits. And so, earlier this week, I posted a little survey of international awards for fiction, along with the unobjectionable […]

March 30, 2008

Inter Alia: Authority, an Anniversary, and Book Reviewing 4

by

In Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace imagines a fungus that grows on another fungus; a nuclear reaction fueled by the byproducts of nuclear reactions; and movies whose audiences watch an audience watching them. For this kind of derivative process, he invokes the adjective annular, which the O.E.D. defines as “ringlike” or circular, but which presumably […]

12