Station Eleven

The king stood in a pool of blue light, unmoored.

-Emily St.  John Mandel, Station Eleven: A Novel

Lives in Ruins & Much More

“[Marilyn] Johnson samples drinks prepared from recipes discovered in ancient tablets, braves bad weather and worse food, visits body farms, and hobnobs with the military all in an effort to examine and explore every aspect of archaeologist’s life.” Here‘s a review of Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble.


“Race is a kind of magical thinking, a way of isolating a few of the surface features of near-infinite human diversity and over-generalizing them into an architecture of biological, social, and even metaphysical difference.” Here‘s a review of Racecraft:The Soul of Inequality in American Life by Barbara J. Fields and Karen E. Fields.

I very seriously considered never publishing that essay or sending it to anybody. It took me a really long time to write—it’s the most difficult thing I ever wrote.Here‘s Meghan Daum (Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion).

“For Christians, doing something about climate change is about living out our faith—caring for those who need help, our neighbors here at home or on the other side of the world, and taking responsibility for this planet that God created and entrusted to us.” Here‘s Katharine Hayhoe (Sacred Acts: How Churches are Working to Protect Earth’s Climate).

“The land is female, [Alexandra] Fuller is quite clear about this. ‘In Rhodesia we are born and then the umbilical cord of each child is sewn straight from the mother into the ground, where it takes root and grows. Pulling away from the ground causes death by suffocation, starvation. That’s what the people of this land believe.’” Here.


A History of New York in 101 Objects & More

‘The Coney Island Parachute Drop, the stone lions that guard the entrance to the New York City Public Library and the large inflatable rat that follows scabs around the city as they fill union jobs during strikes were among those that did not make the final cut.” Here‘s the story on Sam Roberts’ A History of New York in 101 Objects.


Here‘s The Year’s Work at the Zombie Research Center.

“Some of the images are haunting: the selfie that the book opens with; the image of Cohen’s hats (of course, he would have multiple) laid out on the lit makeup counter of a dressing room, the hats reflected in the mirror, the many hats of Leonard Cohen; the amazingly humble and hilarious shot of Cohen at a Laundromat that Robinson calls Clean Clothes; and an image of Cohen walking away, his image framed by a Robert Indiana LOVE sculpture in Manhattan.” Here‘s On Tour with Leonard Cohen.

Frances Fox Piven on historian Howard Zinn (Some Truths Are Not Self-Evident). Here.

The Smell of Battle, the Taste of Siege & More

“Shot and shell went screaming over Sumter as if an army of devils were swooping around it.” Here‘s a review of The Smell of Battle, the Taste of Siege: A Sensory History of the Civil War.


“Every phase of our market society’s expansion was shaped by deceit, fraud and mountebankery.” Here‘s a review of Forging Capitalism: Rogues, Swindlers, Frauds, and the Rise of Modern Finance.

[H.P.] Lovecraft’s fiction, like his creatures, refuses to die,” writes novelist Charles Baxter. Here.

“In effect, [Norman] Mailer’s letters attest not as much to his experience as to his experience of experience—his very notion of experience as something simultaneously centrifugal and centripetal, an adventuresome excursion into a world outside one’s familiar circle as well as a plunge within, toward the impenetrable core of the soul.” Here.


Read Harder

Nelson Algren was the son of a no-luck working stiff and the grandson of a religious zealot turned grifter, and he was a type of loser we can’t stomach.

-Colin Asher, “But Never A Lovely So Real,” in Read Harder: Five More Years of Great Writing from The Believer edited by Ed Park and Heidi Julavits.

The Four Corners of Palermo

The first time I heard his name I assumed it must have been a misprint, one of those typos that officials in the city registry are liable to commit now and then.

-Giuseppe Di Piazza, The Four Corners of Palermo


The Wilds

Brunell Hair lived in a lopsided mill house with her mama and her uncle and her little withered-up critter of a grandmaw.

-Julia Elliott, “Rapture,” in The Wilds: Stories


The Yellow Peril & So Much More!


“Fu Manchu was invented in the years before the First World War by Sax Rohmer, a Birmingham-born writer of song lyrics, gutter-press journalism and novels with words like “mystery”, “sinister” and “nude” in their titles.” Here‘s a review of The Yellow Peril: Dr Fu Manchu and the Rise of Chinaphobia.

“In All Eyes Are Upon Us: Race and Politics from Boston to Brooklyn, [historian Jason Sokol] shows Northeastern whites, like their Southern counterparts, proclaiming interracial comity by offering enough moral cover to the shell game to make it seem fair. He depicts righteous and self-congratulatory liberal New Yorkers and New Englanders touting interracial solidarity against injustice without actually doing much to end the shell game’s daily ravages—especially if doing so might imperil their interests as much as those of the white ethnics who’d bear the brunt of the costs.” Here.

“[Donald] Hall’s topics are often autobiographical: the death of his wife, poet Jane Kenyon; his passion for garlic; a car trip through post-WWII Yugoslavia on impassable roads; the limitations of advanced age (“old age is a ceremony of losses”); poetry’s rise in popularity; how “devastated” he felt after being appointed poet laureate; and always, his attachment to his ancestral home in New Hampshire, Eagle Pond Farm, and the ever-changing landscape around it.” Here‘s a review of Essays After Eighty.

“Is there really anything new to say about meatpacking since Upton Sinclair went into the Chicago stockyards, notebook in hand, and returned with ‘The Jungle’?” Here‘s a review of Ted Genoways’ The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of Our Food.

“One of [Karen] Armstrong’s themes is that rapid change often leads to violence, and she notes that in the Muslim world, ‘modernity arrived as colonial subjugation,’ imposed from without rather than developing organically from within. Muslim fundamentalism ‘has often — though again, not always — segued into physical aggression . . . because Muslims had a much harsher introduction to modernity,’ she argues.” Here‘s a review of Fields of Blood.

“Men who never set foot in Brooklyn wrote to Betty Smith … to say that they felt like they were reading about their hometown.” Here‘s Molly Guptill Manning (When Books Went to War).

On the extraordinary Meghan Daum’s The Unspeakable and Other Topics of Discussion: “The book is dominated by morally and intellectually rigorous first-person essays about subjects that are about as personal and serious as they come—the death of her mother, her decision not to have children, and the incomprehensibility of middle age. These are interspersed with pieces about refusing to learn to cook, about the phenomenon of straight girls yearning to identify with lesbians, about how the love of a dog can supersede even the sternest objection to the culture of sentimentality, and about the maddening degree to which most people fail to adequately or correctly appreciate Joni Mitchell.” Here.


New York 1, Tel Aviv 0

Saturday comes, and Zoe and I go to see Keith Buckley read in Soho.

-Shelly Oria, New York 1, Tel Aviv 0: Stories



Men have fascinated me, maybe too much.

-Laura Kipnis, Men: Notes From an Ongoing Investigation