One of literature's most seductive questions was asked by the Hungarian novelist Sandor Marai in "Embers," his exquisite novel of friendship and betrayal, published in Budapest in 1942, but not translated into English until 2001, 12 years after his death. "Do you want it to be the way it used to be?"
Pain is private, and its privacy has long been a subject of interest to philosophers. Wittgenstein famously compared pain to a beetle in a box: "No one can look into anyone else's box, and everyone says he knows what a beetle is only by looking at his beetle." When we talk about pain, we have to take
James Gleick's first chapter has the title "Drums That Talk." It explains the concept of information by looking at a simple example. The example is a drum language used in a part of the Democratic Republic of Congo where the human language is Kele. European explorers had been aware for a long time
Before he was a writer, Patrick Leigh Fermor was merely a war hero, having earned his first fame from deep-cover exploits with the Greek Resistance. During World War II he hid in the rugged mountains of Crete, leading cat-and-mouse strikes against the German occupiers—experience that surely served
"The people who go to fights don't just go to see some guy win," W.C. Heinz wrote in 1951, "but they go to see some guy get licked, too." Which is, in a line, the problem with fighting. In most sports, you're judged by what you do; in true spectator sports, like mixed martial arts and boxing, you're
Deb Olin Unferth's new memoir of travel and political unrest doesn't make you wait long to discover how her sojourn works out. Revolution, which tells how in 1987 she and her boyfriend George left college and the United States to travel to Central America and "join the revolution" (actually, any
It should come as little surprise that the first novel by Justin Taylor, who in 2007 edited an anthology of doomsday scenarios called The Apocalypse Reader, is all about religion and anarchy. What's more surprising, perhaps, is that it is also a paean to Gainesville, Florida, circa 1999. Indeed, the
It would be impossible for me to write dispassionately about Bobby Fischer even if I were to try. I was born the year he achieved a perfect score at the US Championship in 1963, eleven wins with no losses or draws. He was only twenty at that point but it had been obvious for years that he was destined