Staff Picks

September 16, 2011

Staff Pick: Kenneth Fearing’s The Big Clock 0

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In Kenneth Fearing’s 1946 noir novel, a Manhattan writer is given the unenviable task of tracking himself down.

August 29, 2011

Staff Pick: Daniele Mastrogiacomo’s Days of Fear 1

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In the spring of 2007, the Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo arrived in Afghanistan. He was there to conduct an interview with a Taliban commander, but the promised interview was a trap.

August 25, 2011

Staff Picks: Sabbath’s Theater by Philip Roth 8

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With its gallons of bodily fluids and its frankness about the attendant pneumatics, Sabbath’s Theater makes Nicholson Baker’s “manstarch” look like marzipan, and The Rosy Crucifixion look like Make Way for Ducklings.

July 28, 2011

Staff Pick: Baseball Playbook 1

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“You might have to coach Little League in a few years,” my father told me, handing me a strange, plain book. My son was a week old. It would be at least two years before he would learn to throw a cut fastball (and probably another year or two before he had any real command of the pitch).

July 28, 2011

Through A Glass, Clearly: Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars 5

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One comes away from Ghost Wars with two seemingly paradoxical impressions: 1. unlike most civilians, American leaders saw 9/11 coming years before it happened; and 2. barring a run of stupid luck, they had almost zero chance of stopping it, given the realities of the pre-9/11 world.

July 26, 2011

Staff Pick: The Real State of America Atlas 2

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Where The Real State of America Atlas truly shines is in its demolition of the notion – the enduring fantasy – that America is a land of equal opportunity.

June 29, 2011

The Devil in a Cadillac: Langston Hughes’ Tambourines to Glory 0

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This is a living book—one that summons the age of the Great Migration and Sarah Vaughan and Joe Louis.  And while it’s a morality fable, its characters aren’t the flat allegorical kind.

June 27, 2011

The Beauty I Long For: Maira Kalman and the Principles of Uncertainty 4

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Her books are quirky, deeply moving, and beautiful documents of life on earth. She considers Spinoza, George Washington, fruit platters, her dog, the nature of war. If this sounds incoherent, it isn’t. “I am trying to figure out two very simple things,” she said once at a TED conference. “How to live, and how to die. Period. That’s all I’m trying to do, all day long.”

June 24, 2011

Staff Pick: Blaise Cendrars’ Moravagine 4

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Following in the wake of Moravagine’s violence and abandon is also a vicarious thrill for the reader; the book’s prose and pacing and bravado is fearsome, irresistibly so.

May 27, 2011

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

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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.