Neurologist-turned-photographer Rohina Hoffman knows the power of a hairdo.
At 7, her hair was chopped to a short “boy’s haircut,” and she was devastated. “The trauma of losing control of my identity has stayed with me my entire life,” Hoffman writes in the introduction to her book, Hair Stories.
In photographing and interviewing dozens of women about their own experiences with their hair, Hoffman discovered the seemingly endless roles hair plays—as a cloak of comfort, a statement of creativity, a link to faith, or a badge of honor.
Back in the days before the internet, before sports talk radio, and before Stephen A. Smith, Keith Olbermann, and Howard Cosell on TV, the newspaper columnist reigned supreme in the sports world. We picked up the paper to get the lowdown, to be informed, sure, but also to be entertained. We bought the paper for Jimmy Cannon or Tom Boswell. The sports columnist told us what happened in a game but also gave us behind-the-scenes dirt that you couldn’t get anywhere else. The best of them held forth with style, attitude, and the uncanny ability to write well under pressure.
This collection takes us from the pioneering days of Ring Lardner and Grantland Rice through the mid-century titans W.C. Heinz, Joe Palmer, and Dick Young; digs deep into Schulian’s generation who came of age in the mid-’70s led by Diane Shah, Leigh Montville, Tony Kornheiser, Mike Lupica, Bob Ryan, Larry Merchant, and Dave Kindred, and also features the talents of Jane Leavy, Ralph Wiley, Michael Wilbon, and Joe Posnanski. Schulian also includes easily overlooked regional writers like Peter Finney, Emmett Watson, and Wells Twombly in addition to the usual heavyweights—Ring Lardner, Grantland Rice, and Jimmy Cannon.
It’s hard to say which dude comes off as more puerile, shameless and creepy—the shock jock (because, after all, that was his job) or the future president of the United States.
Howard Stern’s new book, Howard Stern Comes Again—a compendium of his favorite radio interviews with celebrities, accompanied by his less than Talmudic commentary—documents his two indecorous decades as Donald Trump’s enabler and political cheerleader who, along with NBC’s former chief executive Jeff Zucker (the instigator of The Apprentice), helped the publicity-hungry real estate, branding and bankruptcy impresario position himself to run for high office.
“Now here he is sitting in the Oval Office and flying around on Air Force One,” Stern writes in the introduction. “Two years into his first term, I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it. I feel like I’m living in an alternate reality…[B]elieve me, I’m as shocked as you are.”
You might know Larry Merchant best as the tough old bastard who didn’t back down from Floyd Mayweather in a post-fight interview, but before he became famous for talking about boxing on TV, Merchant was a crack sports columnist. He’s one of many talents featured in the entertaining new Library of America sports anthology, The Great American Sports Page: A Century of Classic Columns from Ring Lardner to Sally Jenkins (edited by John Schulian). Merchant was the sports editor at the Philadelphia Daily News in the ’50s and had a nose for writing talent. He put together one of the legendary sports departments and helped unleash a new wave of reporters, the so-called Chipmunks. Later, he took off with his own column, where he was hip, smart, and had a sense of humor. Here’s his 1973 look at that ’70s war of the sexes spectacle, the Billie Jean King thrashing of Bobby Riggs. —Alex Belth
All right, men, quit brooding and get to the dishes. Make sure the beds have hospital corners. And on the way to the supermarket why don’t you stop off at the doctor’s office for a little vasectomy? We’ve been the unfair sex for millennia. Last night we surrendered unconditionally.
Bobby Riggs, carrying the banner of male chauvinism, went down in flames.
On so many issues, Camille Paglia and I are simpatico. We believe in free thought and free speech, we root for the Philadelphia Eagles, we dig Rihanna, we think comparative religion should be part of a core curriculum, we loathe modern French literary theory, and we agree that “Anarchism is glorified thumb-sucking.” Our ancestors were peasants from southern Italy. And we are both huge fans of her classic, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson.
It may be hard for younger readers to appreciate the impact that Sexual Personae had in 1990. Those old enough liken it to the effect of Susan Sontag’sAgainst Interpretation in 1966. An exhilarating swirl of decadence, sexual politics, and revisionist art history, Sexual Personae bitch-slapped a stuffy and complacent academia. Opening its pages was the intellectual equivalent of finding foie gras in a high school cafeteria. It was as if Nietzsche had a lesbian Italian sister.
It’s been nearly thirty years since Sexual Personae. We’ve waited for the next thunderclap from the Ubermensche Frau. But what we’ve gotten after all that time is a pundit. Provocations is 712 pages, a collection of Paglia’s essays, Salon columns, interviews, and even one hundred pages headed under the title “A Media Chronicle” of everything written by or said about her over more than two decades.
I was born and raised in a wealthy Brazilian/American family in São Paulo, Brazil and had lived a very privileged life there for the first 27 years of my life. But a few months after our marriage, my husband and I were pulled from our beds, imprisoned, raped and tortured for 45 days by the corrupt government under the premise of drug trafficking, released only when my family paid a $ 400,000 bribe. Not long after this traumatic experience, Brazil passed a law in 1979 that gave carte blanche indemnity from prosecution to any government officer who tortured. This new law was anathema to me. I had an infant son and my fledgling marriage had fallen apart.
Told through my sworn deposition to the Brazilian National Truth Commission in 2013, my memoirThe Parrot’s Perch recounts our kidnapping, as well as the aftermath, and my eventual road to recovery. The excerpt below explores the pivotal moment I realized that in order to survive and continue living, I had to flee to the United States as I no longer had the support of my family, my marriage, or my country.
The time had come to ask my parents for help. I was 26 years old. I needed love and happiness in my life. I couldn’t live like this. I’d given my marriage my best shot, but felt I had to leave Brazil if I was ever going to be truly happy again.
One was in fifth grade, the other seventh. Katherine Lyon and her older sister Sheila made the honor roll, kept spare change in piggy banks, and tacked posters of Kenny Loggins and John Denver to their bedroom walls. In the last week of March 1975, they vanished from a mall in Wheaton, Maryland, just north of Washington. Their disappearance transfixed the public and puzzled police. Weeks passed, and as it grew less likely that their daughters would be coming home, John and Mary Lyon grieved and wondered.
Mark Bowden, a rookie reporter with the Baltimore News-American, spent much of that spring writing about the missing Lyon girls. When the investigation came to a standstill, he and his colleagues moved on to the next story. He’s since published several nonfiction bestsellers, including Black Hawk Down and Hue 1968. The Lyon story has always bugged him, though. In 2015, the case resurfaced in the pages of the Washington Post, which reported that investigators in Maryland appeared to be closing in on a culprit. Bowden felt compelled to find out what was going on. “A story like that doesn’t really ever leave you,” he told me in a recent interview.
The result of his curiosity isThe Last Stone, a gripping new book that seeks to differentiate itself amidst a surplus of true-crime titles, documentaries, and podcasts. Drawing on a deep cache of question-and-answer sessions between Montgomery County, Maryland. police and one of their chief suspects in the girls’ disappearance, Bowden gives us an eerily intimate look at what it can take to crack a cold case. It’s not the first time he has written about the interrogation of reputed criminals and terrorists. This time, though, he had access to dozens of hours of videotaped conversations.
As Brian Reader was making his way to Hatton Garden on Thursday, April 2, 2015, just another anonymous senior citizen on a bus, the guards at 88–90 Hatton Garden, Kelvin Stockwell and Keefa Kamara, set the alarm, as they had every working day for the past 12 years, in the basement premises of the safety deposit. Stockwell was the last to leave, and he locked the safe deposit company’s wooden front door. It was 6 p.m. This being a long holiday weekend, the two guards did not plan to return until Tuesday. Once the guards had left, the building’s concierge, Carlos Cruse, locked the magnetic glass door at the entrance of the building and left through the front door, which closed behind him and locked automatically.
A relic of the 1940s, the security deposit was nevertheless trusted among Hatton Garden jewelers, many of them older Jewish men, who believed in its sturdy dependability. Like them, it had been in the quarter for decades, and the sight of jewelers traveling to and from the safe deposit, their precious diamonds hidden in small plastic bags in money belts or concealed in their underclothing, was a part of the rhythm of daily life in what was a modern-day shtetl and commercial center. Reader and his gang were preying on elderly men and women of their same generation, men and women who valued God over technology, and who thought nothing of leaving their precious valuables in a safe deposit that had barely been updated in decades.
By early Thursday evening, Reader reached the inconspicuous seven-floor building on the handsome, manicured street. A large plaque on the outside said Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd. The rest of his crew was already there: John “Kenny” Collins, Daniel Jones, Terrence Perkins, and Carl Wood. The men had arrived in Hatton Garden at 8:25 p.m. in a white Ford transit van driven by Collins.
With The Great Gatsby—the first and only work by Fitzgerald most people read—we’re instructed, starting in high school and then ever after, that only one manuscript by the Minnesota-born author is deemed worth our time. And in Gatsby, there are indeed chunks of perfect writing—velvety stuccoed passages of pure prose poetry that make it seem like this author always had a goldmine at his disposal when other writers were lucky to have pyrite crumbs.
Sometimes these plush veins go on for pages, capturing details of human existence—the ways we all think, at some time or other, which we all recognize with an “aha, yes, I’ve been that way” internal exclamation—and where entire worlds register in the precise manner of how a finger touches a glass, or a pine cone dandles in a breeze. But if you want to experience Fitzgerald the stylistic daredevil, you need to turn to his stories, right from his earliest ones. Get thee to a good compilation, go.
“I have asked a lot of my emotions—120 stories,” Fitzgerald wrote near the end of his life. Clearly that number meant a lot to him, as it should have. A little chest-thumping pride, if you will, like he’d just sunk a three to finish off triple overtime.
Just two years before she died at the age of 90, Helen Gurley Brown was tap-dancing in her New York penthouse, waiting for the elevator.
Brown’s husband, Jaws producer and former Cosmopolitan managing editor David Brown, had just died. And she didn’t want to be alone.
“As we’re waiting for the elevator, she starts singing and tap-dancing to ‘I love you, a bushel and a peck,’” her longtime friend, writer Lois Cahall, told The Daily Beast. “She doesn’t want me to go, so she’s trying to stay humorous and adorable. We stepped in, and this very handsome guy in workout clothes comes onto the elevator.”
Though we never think of Easter as a day pocked by any kind of fear, it’s certainly the holiday that represents the most macabre event out of any of them. Skinny, sage dude, who was trying to revolutionize the world with love, gets his hands and feet nailed to a cross, then spends the afternoon up there until he dies. Upon which, he is stuck in a cave with a rock jammed into its mouth, only to rise from the dead, get out, and find his friends to see if they need to test their belief in him by sticking their fingers in his nail holes. Now let’s eat the crap out of some Peeps and Cadbury Eggs!
Easter is so vernal, with a color scheme of pinks, light blues, and yellows to match, which enlivens everything from little girls’ dresses to ubiquitous Easter eggs. But what has always produced a frisson of fear in me is one of our greatest ghost stories—let’s call it top 20—written by a man who normally reserved his frights for Christmas but saw an opportunity in the soft pastel spring of Easter.
Montague Rhodes James—M.R. to his friends and to us—was born in 1862, living until 1936. He was a scholar and provost, working at a number of universities in England. But it was while he was at King’s College from 1905 to 1918 that he did what he became most famous for.
During the past decade, if not before, I’ve been wrestling with an angel: Paul the Apostle. I’ve been reading the letters of Paul intensely from the time I was a young man, drawn by his wild and visionary sense of reality, his “invention” of Christianity, his example as a man who moved through the wide cosmopolitan world of the first century without the slightest fear of consequences. (In this, he’s very different from me and, I suspect, most of us!) As Easter approaches, I begin to think about what Paul said when he urged us to “take on the mind of Christ” [Philippians 2.5], which in his theology means entering completely into this cosmic spirit so that the spirit itself becomes part of us.
My own spiritual journey has been a textual one in part, living in the gospels and letters of Paul as a reader, digging into the Greek words themselves to unearth their full meaning. This work, most recently, has led to a series of 21 lectures that I recorded some months ago about Jesus, Paul, and the early Christians. And I have just published The Damascus Road: A Novel of Saint Paul.
In this novel, I write as Paul in the first person, countering or “correcting” his narrative with that of his traveling companion, Luke, who wrote the Gospel of Luke and, of course, the Acts of the Apostles, the latter being an account of their missionary journeys through the Roman world—a journey that ended with the martyrdom of Paul in Rome around the time of the great fire of 64 A.C.E. Luke’s cool-headed view of what was happening stands (at least in my novel) in contrast to Paul’s mad visionary rhetoric, as embodied in his letters.
What makes the Joads’ migrant story—and by extension the stories of other Dust Bowl families of the ’30s—especially poignant in 2019 is the perspective it casts on the trials so many immigrant families face today trying to start new lives in the United States after fleeing their home countries. Except for the brief time they spend in a government-run camp for migrants, the Joads are constantly made to feel unwelcome once they take to the road.
The Grapes of Wrath begins with Tom Joad, the eldest Joad son, returning to his family after being paroled from the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, where he was sent after being convicted of killing a man in a drunken fight. It is through Tom’s eyes that we first see how his family’s life has been turned upside down.
You might say that the best fiction exists to disassemble expectations. Nature can be the same way, which is why, even when we understand the realities of fire, we’re still taken aback—in the modern, technologically-ramped-up age—when something like Notre Dame Cathedral becomes a sky-tethered conflagration.
You want to say, “Wait, shouldn’t we be able to stop this?” and “Surely it is possible with all of our advances to keep such a blaze from beginning?”
But that is not how nature works, nor how great fiction works; they’re both going to do what they’re going to do, and then we must adjust.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report on the Trump campaign will be released Thursday, the Justice Department announced Monday. Like all public reports, the document will be free to read.
That hasn’t stopped people from trying to sell Mueller report books on Amazon for months.
Amazon’s book listings are an SEO cesspool where grifters try to peddle ebooks on every trending topic. In recent months, self-published works on the anti-vaccination and QAnon conspiracy theories have soared in Amazon’s ratings. So as readers clamored to see the full Mueller report, publishing houses and self-published authors rushed to sell books on the still-unpublished document.
“Jon Snow” and “strategic genius” are certainly terms that don’t seem to go together.
While Jon is one of the most beloved of characters in Game of Thrones, Ned Stark’s bastard son is often viewed like his “father”—a hero, but not a very smart or strategic one. Viewers see this in everything from Littlefinger’s sneering appraisal of him to Jon’s performance in the Battle of the Bastards, where he easily fell into Ramsay Bolton’s trap. Indeed, even the first love of his life, Ygritte, a fiery Free Folk, perhaps best sums up how Jon has generally been perceived: “You’re brave. Stupid, but brave.”
But just as the Bastard of Winterfell’s actual birth history turns out to be more than once presumed, it’s time to reevaluate how Jon Snow is viewed as a strategic leader. Far from just having great hair and sword skills, Jon Snow shares many of the attributes that have made the real world’s great supreme military commanders so successful, particularly one of the most revered in U.S. history, George Washington. Jon Snow serves as a reminder that the qualities of just one man can shape the course of an entire war. As the sellsword-turned-knight Bronn once put it, “Men win wars. Not magic tricks.” Ultimately, leaders make decisions, and decisions make history. And Jon Snow’s personal characteristics suggest that he just might be bound for greatness as a strategic leader.
On the night of September 2, 1871, several members of the Ku Klux Klan locked up Henry Lowther, a black farmer from Georgia whom they accused of plotting an armed uprising of black men and sleeping with white women. Two nights later, 180 Klansmen took Lowther from his cell, tied him up, and led him to a swamp, where they threatened to lynch or castrate him.
The good news is you’ve got the chance to interview Robert Caro: Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award winning author, biographer of Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson, chronicler of power—an absolute interview-goal of history buffs everywhere. The bad news is you’ve got to cap the interview at 30 minutes, because Caro, at 83, is busy.
He’s hard at work on his fifth volume on LBJ, and about to publish a memoir on writing, titled, appropriately,Working. The only thing Caro knows more about than Robert Moses or LBJ is how to get the work done. And to do it, you have to be constantly working.
What do you ask the man who set out to write a biography of Robert Moses, perhaps the single-most-intimidating person in New York at the height of his powers, a biography that, despite all deadlines and lack of funding seemed to grow in magnitude like something out of a H.P. Lovecraft story? As his first book?!
The last dance of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s fictional rock-and-roll epicDaisy Jones & The Six takes place at Chicago Stadium on July 12, 1979. That night in real-life Chicago, the White Sox’ “Disco Demolition Night” rocked Comiskey Park in the flame of burning records. The mob, white and male, raged against sounds from the radio, dances in a club. Thousands stormed the field, forcing a Sox forfeit loss amid the detritus.
“I chose that date because I wanted the band to break up in the heat of the summer,” Reid told The Daily Beast. “But when I realized it landed on ‘the night disco died’ it felt like a nice coincidence.”
It is a good coincidence. Knowing the real events, a reader can imagine the smoke from Comiskey wafting over the book’s finale fireworks. Reid captures the dynamic of relationships within her perfectly-described construct of a rock band in the ’70s stadium era; when Daisy Jones and The Six take the stage for one final time, it’s no spoiler to say that years of emotional engagement will boil over.
John Judis, longtime Democratic socialist and veteran left-wing journalist, wants you to be a nationalist.
If you’re a progressive, chances are you’re as puzzled, maybe as disgusted, as I was when I first read about his most recent book,The Nationalist Revival. Nationalism is the purview of demagogues and bigots, isn’t it? Even Donald Trump admitted that “we’re not supposed to use that word,” before embracing it enthusiastically last October.
But for Judis, nationalism—the concept of a common, shared identity with people in your nation-state—is an indispensable element of a cohesive country. It’s necessary, he says, for people to want to pay taxes and support the common good. And if the left doesn’t embrace it, the right will exploit it.
I’ve lived for many years on the shore of a vast morass of scumbaggery and lunacy. Put another way, I know a lot of people involved in New York local politics. One piece of housing legislation I know about was derailed because a key sponsor was arrested for rape; another because the sponsor of the bill brought Pepperidge Farms Milano cookies the day of the vote, but the cookies ran out before they got to a crucial member, who voted no and commented afterwards, “Why didn’t I get a cookie?” I’m always hearing some horrifyingly preposterous or preposterously horrifying story. But my closest encounter with the morass was a time I myself behaved badly: when I stole a book from Randy Credico, a.k.a. Person Two in the Roger Stone indictment; and I think this episode has something to teach us about what it means to be alive in 2019, when the morass appears to be eating the free world.
Before we start, this was not my first outing as a book stealer. It was just my greatest feat as a book stealer; my Sistine chapel, my Mona Lisa. I’ve been stealing books since I was 18, when a guy let me leaf through his copy of The Master and Margarita, then left the room saying, “Don’t steal that book.” And before you close this in disgust: I know stealing books is a terrible thing. But it’s not as if I got involved in political dirty tricks with Roger Stone. Stealing books isn’t murder. It’s more on a par with whistling on the train.
Also, let it be entered into the record that Randy Credico is generally no saint. First, he’s a stand-up comedian from an era where Louis C.K. could pass as normal. In a documentary made about him, Sixty Spins Around the Sun, Randy can be seen tearing off his shirt as he boasts about his 19-year-old girlfriend. Also, even if we believe his claim that he wasn’t Roger Stone’s back channel to Wikileaks, he did work on several campaigns for Stone, sometimes doing robocalls in which he impersonated famous politicians. There was also a murky episode where Stone ret-conned his way into Love Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s fall from power and then reportedly left a message with Spitzer’s 83-year-old father saying “ …you will be arrested and brought to Albany and there’s not a goddamned thing your phony, psycho piece-of-shit son can do about it…” only to claim it was Randy impersonating him, which Randy denies—and there you have Randy’s relationship with Stone in a nutshell.
I remember once reading a blurb for J.P. Donleavy’s 1955 novelThe Ginger Man—the author’s first—that commended it by saying this was the book that your boozy sister would love.
This made me wonder if your abstemious sister would also dig it. That novel told the tale of Sebastian Dangerfield, a rakehell of an American ex-pat up to various forms of lascivious and licentious gamboling in Dublin, which made a certain amount of congruous autobiographical sense. Donleavy was born in Brooklyn and went to school at Trinity College. The novel, which will split your nerves and tendons from where they are supposed to be fastened, is hilarious. And, like any good comic novel, it’s also deeply sobering. Guts of life and all that jazz.
Donleavy gets lumped in strange categories. He doesn’t get comfortably lumped in with the Irish stalwarts like Joyce, Beckett, Yeats, and attempts to place him with the Kitchen Sink realists of the late ’50s and early ’60s always feels forced. There are not a lot of picaresque realists, but there aren’t a lot of better novels for St. Patrick’s Day than Donleavy’s 1973 effort, A Fairy Tale of New York. It is the book of his that is better than The Ginger Man, a shillelagh to the head that both gives your soul a buzz worthy of a holiday of day drinking, and knocks it sober in fierce epiphany the next morning.
The Mafia is dead. A New York jury said so just this week. A trial in federal court of two men charged with racketeering and conspiracy to commit extortion ended in a verdict of not guilty. Defense attorneys for the two men had argued that the Mafia was destroyed decades ago and that their clients were being unfairly profiled as gangsters because of their Italian ethnicity. The defendants walked.
Long live the Mafia: the day after that jury verdict, a Gambino family mob boss was gunned down in his own driveway on Staten Island, in what history will record as the first gangland slaying ever recorded on video. So maybe the death of organized crime is slightly exaggerated.
In a strange coincidence, amid all this fresh news about the Mafia splattered across the tabloids, Mario Puzo’s novel The Godfather turns 50 this month. And here’s a certainty: while we can debate the actual Mafia’s state of health all day long, it is still very much alive and well in the pages of Puzo’s novel—maybe because no one ever accused him of writing realism.
New excerpts of Kushner, Inc., the forthcoming book by investigative journalist Vicky Ward, describe first daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, as clashing with everyone from former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to former top White House strategist Steve Bannon, who reportedly told the first daughter: “Go fuck yourself.”
The couple, reported to be widely disliked by many Trump administration staffers, has been derided for their conflicts of interest and for White House meddling, according to Ward’s book, which will be out March 19.
Orson Welles could draw and paint quite well. What a shock. Was there anything he couldn’t do? If you told me he designed his own clothes, invented a dripless faucet, or discovered a new planet in the solar system, I wouldn’t bat an eye. He was what we once called a Renaissance man, a term that’s fallen out of favor lately because in this age of specialization, it’s impossible to imagine someone who could, say, paint, write poetry, master mathematics, and design a flying machine, as Leonardo did. Hell, even generalists are in short supply these days.
Multi-talented people do still exist. Latest example: I was plenty impressed just this week while watching the last episode of Russian Doll on Netflix when I noticed that not only did Natasha Lyonne co-create and star in the mini-series but also wrote and directed the last episode all by her lonesome.
But Welles really did outdo everyone. He not only starred on Broadway while still in his twenties but started and ran his own theater company. He mastered radio drama and created the most famous radio play of all time (the 1938 War of the Worlds episode that left more than a few listeners convinced they’d just tuned in to an actual broadcast about an alien invasion). When he went to Hollywood, he wrote, directed, and starred in his first movie, and we all know how that turned out.
When he was 19 years old, Chicago resident Ramaine Hill was wounded in a drive-by shooting. Ramaine knew who had shot him; it was a local gang banger nicknamed Pinkie, and, defying the law of the streets, Ramaine decided not only to press charges against Pinkie but to testify against him.
That’s when Ramaine’s life took a truly serious turn for the worse. Pinkie copped to a charge of aggravated battery with a firearm, and was sentenced to 15 years. Almost immediately, Ramaine began getting threatening phone calls: “You snitchin.’” “We’re gonna get you.” Some friends of Pinkie’s offered Ramaine money to recant his testimony. There was at least one attempt on his life and an effort to kidnap him.
This went on for two years. One day, on his way to work, a man wearing a red hoodie and red jogging pants popped out behind some brush and shot Ramaine dead. Several people were witness to the murder, and several knew who the killer was. Not one of them cooperated with the police investigation.
Another potential bombshell, reporting-heavy book peeking inside the Trump administration is set to hit the shelves this summer.
Politico correspondent Tim Alberta, who has spent years covering the Republican Party, is set to publish American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump, which will include new reporting about the decade-long battle within the GOP leading up to and through the Trump presidency, according to an advance description of the book shared with The Daily Beast.
“American Carnage is the story of a president’s rise based on a country’s evolution and a party’s collapse,” reads the press release.
Some of the most outspoken political grifters of the Trump era want to sell you books—if anyone is interested in buying.
The success of political commentary books like Fox News reporter-turned-Trump-booster Greg Jarrett’s The Russia Hoax and tell-alls like Omarosa’s Unhinged have inspired B-list political media celebrities to take time out of their tweetstorms and attention-starved antics to pen the next great American rant.
Multiple sources confirmed to The Daily Beast that far-right political activist Laura Loomer, for example, has been trying to shop a book, and has told associates that there may be interest from major publishers.
In his 1960 essay “What’s Become of Wystan?” Philip Larkin made the case that everything which had made W.H. Auden an exceptional poet was inextricable from his themes of economic and social crisis.
“Depression, strikes, the hunger marchers … Spain and China,” Larkin rattled off as Auden’s true muses. He continued, “and above all … not only the age’s properties but its obsessions: feeling inferior to the working class, a sense that things needed a new impetus from somewhere, seeing out of the corner of an eye the rise of Fascism, the persecution of the Jews, the gathering dread of the next war that was half projected guilt about the last.”
This new impetus, at least as Auden saw it, was a combination of Marxist revolution and Freudian sexual emancipation. But once he abandoned his role as the Virgilian herald of these fashionable doctrines of the Thirties and retreated into a more insular literary intellectualism after the outbreak of the Second World War and his expatriation to America, Larkin concluded, Auden ceased to be a great poet.
For all of the works of prose that focus on the subject of love—surely the greatest theme and mystery in literature—it’s curious how rarely authors get clinical about the subject. To break it down. To pin it to a dissecting tray, fold back the layers, and say, “see that part over there? That makes for skipped heart beats. This part here, that takes care of the arousal. This middle bit, that’s when you know you’re hooked.”
But if ever there was a born literary dissector, that would be the Frenchman Marie-Henri Beyle, better known as the novelist Stendhal. He went by a lot of different names in France in the first half of the 19th century, being King Pseudonym. He disliked his father, thinking he wasn’t creative enough, and doted on his mother, who died when he was seven.
He dug the military and the theater, serving in Napoleon’s army, engineering a rescue on a river that was much discussed, then sojourning in Italy where he picked up some dandified ways, which played well in Paris, where he went through woman after woman. You might say Stendhal dated serially; or you might say he had a thing for racking up sexual conquests.
Over 40 years ago the college fraternity system was practically on life support, when the brothers of Delta Tau Chi came to its rescue.
Fewer than 5 percent of male students belonged to frats in the ’70s. ThenAnimal House was released in 1979, and that film, about a hard-drinking, hard-partying group of tight-knit bros who made toga parties a national craze and were obviously having the time of their lives, contributed to an increase in Greek membership practically overnight.
The most infamous succès de scandale in the history of the ballet is, of course, the Ballet Russes’ 1913 production of Stravinsky’s TheRite of Spring. The production, particularly Stravinsky’s muscular, modernist score, caused a near riot in the audience—sophisticated or not, ballet fans weren’t ready to have their envelopes pushed quite so far.
The choreographer for The Rite of Spring’s debut was in his early twenties and better known as a peerless dancer. Vaslav Nijinsky, a Pole whom most people assumed was Russian, was a diffident man who was much teased, and, away from the stage, thought completely unremarkable. On stage, however, he was to dance what Hendrix was to the guitar and Rembrandt was to painting.
Today, it can be hard to understand why people got so worked up over a ballet highlighting a pagan interlude in which a young maiden sacrifices herself by dancing until she dies. But ballet a century ago was a more genteel affair. It is a little easier, though, to see the difficulties Nijinsky encountered a year before the Rite of Spring explosion when he choreographed and danced the principal role in a ballet set Debussy’s The Afternoon of a Faun, in which he mimed masturbation with a scarf.
The year is 1942, and World War II is raging. Odette Sansom decides to follow in her war hero father’s footsteps by becoming an SOE agent to aid Britain and her beloved homeland, France. Five failed attempts and one plane crash later, she finally lands in occupied France to begin her mission. It is here that she meets her commanding officer, Captain Peter Churchill.
As they successfully complete mission after mission, Peter and Odette fall in love. All the while, they are being hunted by the cunning German secret police sergeant, Hugo Bleicher, who finally succeeds in capturing them. They are sent to Paris’s Fresnes prison, and from there to concentration camps in Germany where they are starved, beaten, and tortured. But in the face of despair, they never give up hope, their love for each other, or the whereabouts of their colleagues. Larry Loftis recounts this fascinating story of resistance and romance inCode Name Lise: The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII’s Most Highly Decorated Spy, from which the following is excerpted:
The term “American Dream” gets tossed around a lot. Politicians promise to deliver it. Pollsters poke and prod it, asking for the public’s opinion on its attainability. The American Dream is a handy metaphor for journalists writing on a subject’s upward ascent, and the concept gets namechecked in countless songs across every genre, often with an overtone of aspiration or braggadocio. Yet no matter who’s invoking the American Dream, they almost always misuse it by framing it in material terms: two cars in every garage; exceeding the previous generation’s wealth—owning a home is a perennial favorite, too.
Only last week, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who’s thinking of running for president, provided a fine example of our collective conception of this idea, telling the Morning Joe crew, “I’m self-made. I grew up in the projects in Brooklyn, New York… I thought that was the American Dream.”
Schultz—and most of us—thought wrong, because the original American Dream—that is, the term’s first usage, in author James Truslow Adams’ 1931 history The Epic of America—was far more nuanced, and far more radical, too.
Despite the Golden Globe and Producers Guild of America awards that it has won, Peter Farrelly’s hit film Green Book is facing political trouble that seems sure to increase by the time of the Academy Awards on February 24. An army of critics has come to see Green Book as perpetuating a dated, racial liberalism that does more harm than good.
Green Book tells the story of the 1962 trip through the Jim Crow South taken by an African-American musician Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and his white driver, Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), a bouncer at the Copacabana night club, who has time on his hands because the Copacabana has been closed for renovations.
In Green Book, Don Shirley is the one with money and education, but it is Tony with his muscle and smarts who is the hero of the movie. Tony saves Don from beatings at the hands of bigots and corrupt Southern police, and it is this emphasis on Tony that has led critics of the film to see Green Book as a lopsided tale of black-white relations.
Americans have begun to talk once again about Atticus Finch, the heroic small town Alabama lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird. The Aaron Sorkin play based on the classic 1960 novel by Harper Lee is the biggest hit on Broadway. It stars Jeff Daniels as the attorney moved by his conscience, human decency, and faith in the rule of law to defend a black man wrongly accused of rape in the 1930s.
Good. We need reminding in today’s America that lynch law—which we like to think is a thing of the past—always had another side: the kind of taken-for-granted easy-to-live-with racism white people were used to in the South of “Mockingbird.” And we should be aware as well that those attitudes never were limited to Southerners. A lot of Donald Trump’s followers clearly wish they could return to a world where white men were men, and all others were something less.
But for all the virtues of Harper Lee’s novel or its new Broadway incarnation, they are fiction. And history can teach us more if the stories are well told and the facts are clear.
Who was the South Carolina cop who beat a black U.S. Army veteran and crushed both his eyeballs in February 1946? As Richard Gergel writes in Unexampled Courage: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring, Hollywood’s enfant terrible Orson Welles mounted a radio campaign to find out. In the first of his broadcasts, reading from Woodard’s affidavit, Welles got some of the facts wrong. (The recording is at the end of this excerpt.) But over the next few weeks the error was corrected and the police chief who blinded Woodard was found.
[On] Sunday, August 25, an exuberant Welles opened his radio broadcast with these dramatic words: “This is Orson Welles speaking. The place was Batesburg. Isaac Woodard thought it happened in Aiken. He was wrong . . . The blame belongs . . . in Batesburg. Batesburg, South Carolina.” Welles then described the work of his investigators in locating a minister and several workmen who had observed the police chief of Batesburg and a highway patrolman pouring “buckets of water over the head and body of a soldier.” Welles reported the officers were “washing away” blood and between each pouring asking the soldier, “Can you see yet?” According to Welles, he simply responded no. That soldier was Isaac Woodard.
But Welles was not finished. He explained that when he brought the Woodard story to national attention, “the name of the guilty policeman was unknown and it looked as though it always would be. I promised to get that name, I have it now.” Welles then dramatically disclosed to his national audience the name of Woodard’s attacker:
New Year’s Day 2019 would have been the 100th birthday of J. D. Salinger. It’s a milestone worth celebrating because Salinger’s literary voice remains so young.
Salinger is no longer as popular as he once was, but with the passage of time, his impact has become clearer. From Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar to Frank Conroy’s Stop Time to Tobias Wolff’s This Boy’s Life, Salinger’s influence dominates modern American memoir.
The opening of Salinger’s 1951 masterpiece, The Catcher in the Rye, set the tone for his writing. “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like… and all that David Copperfield kind of crap,” Salinger’s narrator, Holden Caulfield tells us before adding, “but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”