Peter Beinart continues to assail Israel's leadership and its American supporters in an article condemning yesterday's flotilla raid, which killed nine people and resulted in the arrest of more than six hundred activists (including Swedish writer Henning Mankell). Israel and American Zionism are topics conspicuously absent from Beinart's new book The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris (reviewed in Bookforum by Jim Sleeper), but Beinart has had a lot to say about them recently.
Nay Phone Latt
Blogging can be dangerous, at least according to Burmese authorities, who have imprisoned Nay Phone Latt for his posts; poets are still suspect, too—Saw Wei, who was locked up in Burma for writing a poem, has finally been released after more than two years in prison for "inducing crime against public tranquility" with his verse, which had “General Than Shwe is crazy with power” encoded within the poem.
I got a scheme—for a magazine! The beginnings of what Philip Roth dubbed "an imaginative assault upon the American experience" are detailed in an excerpt from a new history of Commentary, showing how early pieces in the magazine, from the likes of Bernard Malamud, Saul Bellow, and Roth, "helped forge a new literary temper," and "acted as a greenhouse for a new style of literary criticism . . . incubating the first generation of critics to grow from America’s working class."
I'm feeling lucky: novelist Geoff Nicholson writes that "ideas of what’s worth knowing, and even what’s interesting, are constantly changing," and dusts off his "outdated books of supposedly impartial information," such as the flashlight-worthy Guinness Book of Records and the ultimate unimpeachable source, the Encyclopedia Britannica, as well as the wonderfully-named—and almost certainly not pocket-sized—Everybody’s Pocket Companion: A Handy Reference Book of Astronomical, Biblical, Chemical, Geographical, Geometrical, Historical, Mathematical, Physical, Remedial, and Scientific Facts, Dates Worth Knowing, World Sports and Speeds Records, Mythological, Physiological, Monetary, Postal and General Information.