May 19, 1999 |
Peter Hedges clearly believes that God is in the details. "An Ocean in Iowa" (Scribner Paperback, 1999), his follow-up novel to "What's Eating Gilbert Grape," is a slim volume bulgy with details. Some of which are significant. Iowa, home to protagonist Scotty Ocean and his family, is not one of these. The year 1969, when the story opens, is. Iowa is a good enough choice because it's in the middle of the country, because the author is from Iowa, because it makes an interesting title.
November 28, 1991 |
It seems like ages since anyone sat down to write a bare knuckles manifesto challenging our national intelligentsia. Last spring, however, New York literary agent John Brockman fired a fusillade over the bow with a short monograph he calls "The Emerging Third Culture." Brockman's essay says that scientists, not the literary Establishment, are the cream of America's brainpower, the thinkers who make the United States "the intellectual seedbed for Europe and Asia."
April 25, 2011 |
The fourth-grade teacher in Virginia who performed a mock slave auction in her classroom April 1 — with the white kids pretending to buy and sell the black kids — was duly chastised by school officials for her racial insensitivity. Given that she meant to be giving a lesson on the Civil War, she should also have been scolded for pedagogical inaccuracy. Think about it. If she really wanted to have her students act out a representative scene from that conflict, which began 150 years ago this month, she should have moved the black children to the side of the room and let the white kids start tearing each other apart.
December 14, 1998 |
Like much of America, the nation's power elite are watching the congressional impeachment process closely--with breathtaking silence. While the impeachment issue is Topic A in Washington, the nation's elders, from ex-presidents to retired Army Gen. Colin L. Powell and financier George Soros, have uttered little about the showdown in Washington and clearly aren't eager to be drawn out.
May 19, 1999 |
The climate for book buyers turned balmier this week, as the three leading online booksellers further slashed what they charge for New York Times bestsellers to half the list price. Been wanting to treat yourself to Peter Jennings and Todd Brewster's "The Century" (Doubleday), but hung up on the cost? The coffee-table history lesson is yours now for $30 (plus shipping costs). Amazon.com was first on Monday to mark bestsellers down to 50% (from an original discount of 40% or less).
May 19, 1999 |
Roy Johansen, a screenwriter whose first teleplay, "Murder 101," won an Edgar Award, makes his debut in print with "The Answer Man" (Bantam, $22.95, 341 pages), a labyrinthine crime yarn. The elements of the noir thriller are all here. The basically honest protagonist is a nice, hapless polygrapher named Ken Parker. The femme fatale is a stunning lady lawyer with the splendidly appropriate name of Myth.
November 7, 1997 |
Sir Isaiah Berlin, a giant in 20th century thought who specialized in the history of political ideas and the concepts of liberty, has died at age 88. He died Wednesday night at Oxford's Acland Hospital, according to Oxford University, where he had worked for more than 60 years as a lecturer, professor and college president.
June 10, 2005 |
Two news topics show why Democratic positions often strike Republicans as half-baked. First, the Title IX crusade to increase the number of female college athletes. (The Supreme Court turned down a Title IX challenge this week.) Second, Harvard President Lawrence Summers' revised view of women in science, and his ongoing penance for previous errors. (Harvard announced last month that it would be spending big bucks in the hopes of achieving gender equity among professors.
November 2, 2000 |
Intentionally or not, in this last week of the campaign, the presidential candidates have been reduced in many quarters to stock characters: the Frat Boy and the Know-It-All. The Cowboy and the Nerd. And the method by which many voters make their choice has been boiled down to the now-ubiquitous phrase "comfort level." With whom are American voters more comfortable? The folksy governor of Texas with the unfortunate tendency to smirk?
January 27, 2002 |
Did you know that if I were writing this review for big bucks, it would be better--at least according to Richard Posner? Posner adores the free market; his only regret is that salaried teachers like myself escape its beneficial imperatives. Posner is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals; he is a well-regarded professor at the University of Chicago Law School and an author who writes with astounding energy on an astounding number of topics.