“HE WORE A PURPLE PLAID SUIT his staff abhorred and a pinstripe shirt and polka-dot tie and a folded white silk puffing up extravagantly out of his pocket.” This was not some tea-sipping Edwardian dandy. It was Ronald Reagan announcing his presidential candidacy at the National Press Club in November
The champions of innovation-speak are as confused by the subject as anyone. To them, technology is a thing with a life of its own. And it can evidently only be understood via the ministrations of a class of reverent spiritual adepts, duly catechized in treating its essence as holy and its creators as demigods.
An essentially religious writer, Marilynne Robinson stands quite alone in this "unreligious age," as Iris Murdoch called it, in which we turn to art for an experience akin to prayer. With these novels, all of them wrought from theological concerns, Robinson has created a secular church of readers.
In 2011 Ben Lerner’s first novel, Leaving the Atocha Station, was brought out by Coffee House Press, a Minneapolis independent, to wide and deserving if improbable praise. Improbable because of its provenance, but more so because its author, thirty-two at the time, was already a decorated poet, with
David Mitchell has a theory of history. Roughly, this is it: Progress is neither bad nor good but circular and inescapable. It will lead humankind, inexorably, off the cliff, yet you can count on humankind (just as inexorably) to pick itself back up again.
As the founding member of the prolific, fiercely beloved band the Mountain Goats, John Darnielle is something of an expert regarding the plight of outcasts. Any outcast status for his new novel, however, has been lately eliminated: Wolf in White Van was just nominated for the National Book Award.
In order to make sense of the latest desperate failures of civil peace in Iraq, it's necessary to revisit the origins of the country's decade-long sectarian civil war—and to question the broad contours of the willfully obtuse ideological course that led to and sustained the initial US occupation.
For most of American history, progressives have not loved the Supreme Court. From abolitionists to labor reformers, critics have generally seen the court as a friend to those who own the country, not to the rest of us who merely live here.
With so much international attention focused on Gaza, it's finally occurring to many Americans and other Westerners that the region has its own history, and that this history is key to sorting out the present conflict. So in this sense, Jean-Pierre Filiu's Gaza: A History arrives at a propitious moment.
A century ago, a woman who wanted to prevent or terminate a pregnancy had to exercise ingenuity. If she was fortunate, her partner could afford condoms (and was willing to use them), or she could buy a device called a Mizpah pessary, a proto-diaphragm sold under the guise of "womb support." More commonly, though, women douched with Lysol after sex, or, under more desperate circumstances, swallowed turpentine water, poked themselves with knitting needles, rolled down stairs, or hit their abdomens with a hammer.