Fantastic Journalism

Su The Atlantic è uscito un elenco dei 100 migliori articoli di fantastic journalism dello scorso anno. Tipo "Thanksgiving in Mongolia" di Ariel Levy: "People were alarmed when I told them where I was going, but I was pleased with myself. I liked the idea of being the kind of woman who’d go to the Gobi Desert pregnant, just as, at twenty-two, I’d liked the idea of being the kind of girl who’d go to India by herself." theatlantic.



Yooper,” one of the 150 new words appearing in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and the company's free online database appears on page 1454 of the printed edition of the dictionary in New York. The term refers to native or longtime residents of the Michigan’s Lake Superior region known for a distinctive manner of speaking and its Scandinavian roots. Many of the other new words and terms stem from digital life and social media; spoiler alert; hashtag; selfie and tweep, while others are food driven, including pho and turducken, a boneless chicken stuffed with a boneless duck stuffed with a boneless turkey.


Chi odia chi

Sull'Huffington Post è uscita una mappa divertente sulle rivalità e gli odi dei grandi scrittori. "Mary McCarthy and Elizabeth Bishop both disliked J.D. Salinger’s novels. “I don’t like Salinger, not at all,” McCarthy sniffed. “That last thing isn’t a novel anyway, whatever it is. I don’t like it. Not at all. It suffers from this terrible sort of metropolitan sentimentality and it’s so narcissistic. And to me, also, it seemed so false, so calculated. Combining the plain man with an absolutely megalomaniac egotism. I simply can’t stand it.” Norman Mailer disliked Salinger too, but also McCarthy . . . and Kerouac, and Gore Vidal; while Vidal had it in for Hemingway, who had it in for Faulkner, who had it in for Twain". huffingtonpost.


Sulla felicità

"Reading books about how to be happy can be a depressing business. Part of this is because one can’t help imagining the sad souls who buy them, hoping to turn around a troubled life for $27.99 or less. Indeed, the how-to manuals are only part of a broad, obsessive and flourishing effort to pursue happiness more directly and systematically than ever before. Courses in “positive psychology” attract thousands of students at elite universities; there is even a Journal of Happiness Studies, which has touted among many startling revelations the discovery that “Positivity was associated [through survey research] with norms about ideal life satisfaction such that countries and individuals who highly valued positive emotions were more likely to display positivity.” It doesn’t take a social scientist to see that a blizzard of how-to books on “positivity” suggests its lack in everyday life. Behind the facade of smiley-faced optimism, American culture seems awash in a pervasive sadness, or at least a restless longing for a sense of fulfillment that remains just out of reach". Seguono i titoli di vari libri sulla felicità che sembrano confutare che il "positive thinking" aiuti. Jackson Lears su thenation.


La New York Public Library rinuncia a ridurre gli stack

Last week, the Times reported that the New York Public Library, in a surprising about-face, has given up on its plan to tear seven stories of bookshelves out of its white-marble flagship building, on Forty-second Street and Fifth Avenue. The bookshelves, usually referred to as “the stacks,” literally hold up the palatial reading room on the library’s third floor, and, in 2008, when the plan to remove them was first announced, they contained the heart of the library’s research collection. Under that plan, administrators hoped to move a portion of the books in the stacks to an existing facility underneath Bryant Park, which is next door to the library, and to ship the rest to an off-site storage facility in New Jersey. newyorker.


American Innovations

Rivka Galchen, American Innovations ( Farrar, Straus and Giroux). "Now Galchen has returned with her second book—a collection of stories titled American Innovations—and it appears that she has taken up Roth’s challenge, and met it triumphantly. Instead of neurology, the stories in this short, vital, intelligent collection return to psychology—the old-fashioned kind of motives that need no clinical diagnosis to be understood. These 10 stories are not linked—they don’t take up a single plot or fictional world—yet they are united in a profound way by their protagonists, who are recognizably versions of the same person. They are all adult women, roughly in their thirties, sometimes married and with children; but almost always the most important emotional relationships in their lives are with their parents". Adam Kirsch, tablet.


Lovers at the Chameleon Club

Francine Prose, Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 (Harper). 
"It’s a daring thing to write about an evil person, especially in this day of autobiographical fiction, when readers assume most characters are thinly veiled self-portraits. And yet evil characters are usually dynamic and fascinating, upstaging all the goody-goodies. ...
Francine Prose is a subtle psychologist and a compassionate humanist, but nevertheless she has created a genuinely evil character in Lou Villars, a cross-dressing French racecar driver who collaborates with the Nazis and tortures résistants in the bowels of the Paris headquarters of the Gestapo. Prose is careful to show how a decent but under-loved girl becomes a monster". Edmund White, nytbooks.


Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?

Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? è il titolo del libro di Roz Chast (Bloombury USA); un libro di memorie sugli ultimi anni dei genitori. Molto toccante, spiritoso, ovviamente, e liberatorio. Sarah Lyall intervista la cartoonist nella sua casa a Ridgefield, Conn., dove, in un closet tiene le ceneri dei genitori. “I like having my parents in my closet,” is how she explains it in her new graphic novel, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?”, which chronicles the pair’s long, precipitous decline, starting from when her mother fell off a stepladder in 2005 to the time she died, in 2009 (Ms. Chast’s father died in the middle of all that). “I think it makes a nice home for them". E poi racconta altre cose interessanti e divertenti della sua vita. nyt.


Fitzgerald senza censure

E' appena uscita in Inghilterra un'edizione dei racconti di F Scott Fitzgerald senza gli interventi censori a cui erano state sottoposte nelle precedenti edizioni. 
"From sexual innuendo to antisemitism, a wealth of censored material that was sliced out of F Scott Fitzgerald's short stories by newspaper editors is being restored in a new edition of the author's work which presents the stories in their unbowdlerised form for the first time in almost 80 years. ...
The new edition of Taps at Reveille, the latest volume of The Cambridge Edition of the Works of F Scott Fitzgerald, restores Fitzgerald's original prose in these and other stories, and is published this week by Cambridge University Press. "Major" changes have also been made to the story seen by many to be Fitzgerald's masterpiece in the genre, Babylon Revisited, said CUP. General editor James West, Sparks Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University, believes the edition is important "because we want to read what Fitzgerald wrote, not what the editors at the Post thought he should have written." Alison Flood, guardian.


Love and Treasure

Love and Treasure è il titolo del nuovo romanzo di Ayelet Waldman (Knopf). 
L'antefatto del romanzo è il treno ungherese dell'oro - il treno in cui gli ebrei ungheresi avevano caricato i loro oggetti preziosi per metterli in salvo, e che più o meno sparì nel nulla. Catherine Taylor dice, "Ayelet Waldman’s new novel, “Love and Treasure,” places the Hungarian Gold Train at the heart of a multigenerational tale largely set in Salzburg in 1945 and in Budapest, both in the present and in 1913. Crucial to its plot is an enameled pendant, intricately worked in the design of a peacock, unusually colored in purple, white and green. Waldman skillfully interweaves this striking and enigmatic object — a symbol, as the book progresses, of fatal bad luck — into an ambitious sweep of history, setting the loss of millions of human lives against the pendant’s own poignant, improbable survival". nyt.


I libri preferiti dagli americani

Un recente sondaggio sui libri preferiti dagli americani mostra dei dati abbastanza sorprendenti. 
"The Bible came out on top ...
But after that, things get a little more interesting, if not always surprising. “Gone With the Wind” was the second favorite over all, and also No. 2 among women, whites and people over 49. The “Harry Potter” series was No. 3, followed by the “Lord of the Rings” series, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Moby-Dick,” “The Catcher in the Rye,” “Little Women,” “The Grapes of Wrath” and “The Great Gatsby.” 
The list seems to reflect a spurning of mass-market best-sellers and a return to school-reading-list classics. Jennifer Schuessler, nyt.


MFA in Creative Writing secondo Junot Diaz

Junot Diaz sulla sua esperienza a Cornell: "Twenty years since the workshop and what I’m left with now is not bitterness or anger but an abiding sense of loss. Lost time, lost opportunities, lost people. When I think on it now what’s most clear to me is how easily ours could have been a dope workshop. What might have been if we’d had one sympathetic faculty in our fiction program. If we Calibans hadn’t all retreated into our separate bolt holes. If we’d actually been there for each other. What might have been if the other writers of color in the workshop—the ones who were like I don’t want to write about race—had at least been open to discussing why that might be the case. I wonder what work might have been produced had we writers of colors been able to talk across our connections and divides, if we’d all felt safe and accounted for in the workshop, if we’d all been each other’s witnesses. What might have been". newyorker.


Università e abusi sessuali

The Obama administration on Thursday released the names of 55 colleges and universities under investigation for their handling of sexual assault complaints, an unusual step meant to increase pressure on the institutions to crack down on the problem on their campuses. ... 
The colleges under investigation include Ivy League institutions like Dartmouth, Harvard and Princeton; other private universities like Boston University, the University of Chicago, Swarthmore and the University of Southern California; and public universities including Florida State, the University of Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State. nyt.