Posts Tagged ‘New Yorker’


Things Can Only Get Better From Here

May 23, 2012


Or so I imagine our friend, Fyodor shouting in the face of his unsuspecting reader.  After taking the reader away from the sad unicorn, Dostoevsky shines a little ray of hope into the story in Raskolnikov’s letter from his mother.  Or rather…Dostevsky SEEMINGLY shines a little ray of hope into the story.

In my reading of the letter it seemed like good news…all Sonia’s engaged, we’re out of penury, hope she’s not a bridezilla (but then you know Sonia!).  Ahh…a soupcon of relief!  But this New Yorker cartoon from two years ago (which I just read–don’t judge me!) should have primed me for disappointment.  I mean with a title like that…(like Crime and Punishment–not cheery concepts either one).

For in the next chapter Raskolnikov turns his unblinking eye of despair on the seemingly joyous news and quickly disabuses the reader of any hope for even the tiniest scrap of happiness in the next four hundred odd pages.  Raskolnikov’s skill as a sadness radar (and magnet?) is matched only by his adherence to the New Criticism (anachronism alert!)…for he close reads the hell out that missive and un-earths the grimy, forlorn subtext that, in fact, Sonia’s betrothed cares nothing for her and she has saddled herself (knowingly!) into an unloving marriage all for Roskolnikov.

So… cheery that.  Was I slow on the uptake…did you pick up the clues that this letter was, in fact, bad news?   Or did you have to wait for the next chapter (or this blog post?!–oops.  *Spoiler Alert*) to find out as well.

With all this cheeriness I suppose it’s easy to see why instead of reading on I’ve been watching reruns of The Vicar of Dibley (no unexpected subtext there–just pastoral hilarity!).

Well I’m excited to see how this book will get sadder…I’ll keep you posted!




BookIt Achieved, Or Happy New Year!

January 1, 2011

At around 5:30 yesterday afternoon, December 31, 2010 I finished Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan and officially achieved my Adult BookIt Goal of reading 100 books in 2010.  In case you’re interested (I can’t imagine how you couldn’t be interested) here’s the list:

Jon’s 2010 Reading List

  1. Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman
  2. The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T.J. Stiles
  3. A Vindication of Love: Reclaiming Romance for the Twenty-first Century by Christina Nehring
  4. Far Arden by Kevin Cannon
  5. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
  6. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  7. For the Time Being by Annie Dillard
  8. Far North by Marcel Theroux
  9. Digital Literacy for Technical Communication: 21st Century Theory and Practice by Rachel Spika
  10. Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire
  11. The Broken Teaglassby Emily Arsenault
  12. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
  13. Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsessionby Julie Powell
  14. Bury Me Deep by Megan Abbott
  15. Bryant and May on the Loose by Christopher Fowler
  16. Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos H. Papadimitriou, Alecos Papadatos, and Annie Di Donna
  17. The Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins
  18. Invisible by Paul Auster
  19. Point Omega by Don Delillo
  20. Still Life by Louise Penny
  21. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
  22. Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
  23. Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
  24. About a Mountain by John D’Agata
  25. Love Is a Four-Letter Word: True Stories of Breakups, Bad Relationships, and Broken Hearts edited by Michael Taeckens
  26. A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood
  27. Eating Animalsby Jonathan Safran Foer
  28. The Bronte Projectby Jennifer Vandever
  29. White Noise by Don Delillo
  30. Lincoln by Gore Vidal
  31. A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny
  32. A View from the Bridgeby Arthur Miller
  33. The Spellmans Strike Againby Lisa Lutz
  34. The Americansby Robert Frank
  35. Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
  36. Learning to Communicate in Science and Engineering by Mya Poe, Neal Lerner, Jennifer Craig, and James Paradis
  37. Sonata Mulattica: Poems by Rita Dove
  38. Ford County by John Grisham
  39. The Vintage Caperby Peter Mayle
  40. I is for Innocent by Sue Grafton
  41. Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? by James Shapiro
  42. Stitches by David Small
  43. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
  44. 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown by Simon Johnson and James Kwak
  45. The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes
  46. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King
  47. Effective Blogging for Libraries by Connie Crosby
  48. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  49. The Humbling by Philip Roth
  50. Missing by Karin Alvtegen
  51. Schrodinger’s Ball by Adam Felber
  52. Snapshots in History’s Glare by Gore Vidal
  53. Nineteen Seventy Four by David Peace
  54. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  55. Homer and Langley by E.L. Doctorow
  56. The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno
  57. Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields
  58. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  59. Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
  60. Death in the Fifth Position by Gore Vidal
  61. Couldn’t Keep It to Myself: Wally Lamb and the Women of York Correctional Institution edited by Wally Lamb
  62. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  63. The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time by Judith Shulevitz
  64. This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
  65. The Uses of Digital Literacy by John Hartley
  66. Room by Emma Donoghue
  67. Speak Low: Poems by Carl Phillips
  68. The Danger Box by Blue Balliett
  69. The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien
  70. C by Tom McCarthy
  71. Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis
  72. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  73. Big Machine by Victor LaValle
  74. Service for Two by Kate Kingsbury
  75. Exley by Brock Clarke
  76. So Much for That by Lionel Shriver
  77. The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
  78. Scott Pilgrim vs. The Worldby Bryan Lee O’Malley
  79. The House of Blue Leaves by John Guare
  80. Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon
  81. The 39 Steps by John Buchan
  82. Ruined by Lynn Nottage
  83. Lark and Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips
  84. Six Geese A-Slaying by Donna Andrews
  85. The Fever by Wallace Shawn
  86. Howards End is on the Landing: A Year of Reading From Home by Susan Hill
  87. Homage to Mistress Bradstreet by John Berryman
  88. The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico
  89. The Wisdom of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton
  90. Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan


If I had to pick my favorites, which I don’t, but which I’ll do anyway I’d say Logicomix (#17), A Single Man (#27), Lincoln (#32), Contested Will (#43), The Age of Wonder (#47), C (#76), Exley (#83), The 39 Steps (89), and The Housekeeper and the Professor (#94)

Three cheers for goals attained!

This year’s reading goal:  Catch up on New Yorkers.  Actual date, Jan, 1, 2011…New Yorker date April 2010.  Off to read some “Talk of the Town”!




May 29, 2009

Finished this book on the bus ride home…it was all I could do not to hurl my copy out the bus window into the downtown traffic.  Here’s my review on Goodreads:

Dead Souls (Penguin Classics) Dead Souls by Nikolai V. Gogol

My review

rating: 1 of 5 stars
If ever there was a posterbook for not publishing unfinished works…this here book is it. Not cohesive, flat characters. Not a fan.

View all my reviews.

I think I’m going to take the weekend off…revel in my doneness…read some of Stone’s Fall and I’ll dive in to Ship of Fools come Monday.

On a side note…according to Wikipedia Porter won her Pulitzer, not for this novel but for a collection of her short stories.  This was confirmed in Hilton Als’ recent article about Porter in New Yorker.  That makes the score Wikipedia – 1, Justin – 0 (that a goose egg folks!).

But this novel was the best selling book of 1962! (Also the Als article).

Until June,



A Break in the Routine

April 30, 2009

I’m here to report that Chapter Seven brings a reprieve from Gogol’s standard formula that I’ve been complaining also marks a bit of a reunion of characters past as Chichikov, Manilov and Sobakevich all come together again…I haven’t been this overjoyed by a reunion since Saved By the Bell: Hawaiian Style.

But I know that you’re probably behind me so I won’t give away too  much more than that…I will give the spoiler that there’s a Petrushka sighting though…that doesn’t tell too much, but might give you more of an incentive to read.

In other, only slightly related news…this past Saturday I went and saw the movie Adventureland.  In that movie one of the characters gives a copy of Dead Souls to a girl he is trying to woo.  Now I’ve found that this book (in particular, really Russian literature in general) is often used in movies to denote a character as a sensitive rebel (I’m not sure but I think that James Dean probably had a copy of “Hadji Murad” in his pocket when he was stargazing at the planetarium with Plato).

Anyway I’m trying to put together a list of times in cinematic history that Dead Souls is used to denote a character’s vulnerably idiosyncratic nature.

Here’s my list so far…

  1. Adventureland
  2. The Namesake (the main character is called Gogol for pity’s sake)

So the game is on…this is kind of like Dodo Thumping version 2.0

And in a really unrelated note I read this article yesterday from New Yorker magazine.  Its by Rebecca Mead and its about twin poets (they also played the Precogs in Minority Report!)  Anyway if you missed it, you should give it a gander.

That’s all I have…I would like to note the passing of my favorite Golden Girl, Bea Arthur.  In memoriam I’d like to re-link to the video I linked to on this blog earlier.  Only a consummate professional could make singing with a giant Muppet rat touching…and that she did. Rest in peace.


I’m Not Reading Brave New World

March 3, 2009

Dear Twin,

A happy belated birthday to you as well.  My belated gift to you is a confession…a mea culpa…a breast cleaning.   Here goes:  I’m not reading Brave New World.

I realize this confession is probably a little anti-climactic after seeing this post’s subject heading, but there you have it.  I’m not reading this book right now.  And I haven’t been for a while.

Oh I’d like to make up excuses…like I’m still haunted by the plaintive cry of  “Soooooommmmmmaaaa!   Sooooooooommmmmaaaaa!” from Sally Kirkland’s portrayal of Linda in the clip that I linked to in my last post.  But its not that simple.

Sometimes life just has a way of happening…hold onto your hat I’m going to wax philosophical a bit here.  I won’t go too Derrida on you, but consider yourself warned.  In fact I think I’m going to wax philosophical in a numbered list format.  A numbered list I’ll entitle

Life Happening That Has Kept Me From Reading Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (A Numbered List):

  1. I lost the book for like 8 days It, not surprisingly, was under more books.  I need to de-bookify a bit.
  2. The Oscars.  A long show right?  But worth it for the musical medley featuring a sparkly Beyonce and Zac Efron (who’d have guessed one stage could hold so much star power!)
  3. 2666.  It is like a 1600 page 900 page book.  It has taken over my life.  I’m trying to finish it like a no one’s business but it’s taking up all of my free reading time.
  4. Except for the time I devote to my new blog discoveries Brendan Emmet Quigley and Jane Fonda (it’s amazing!–she watches Brothers and Sisters and tweets–just like me!)
  5. And, of course, my unending quest to get caught up with New Yorkers–I’m currently trying to read the current issues as they come and read the back issues spanning from September 2008-January 2009 (I’m almost to October…I can definitely see it on the horizon!).

So that’s some stuff that’s been keeping me from reading.  That and I’m not super-engaged with this book…although I think I will be more engaged now that I’m picturing Bernard Marx as Peter Gallagher.

So you’ll hear from me soon…we’re coming quickly to our blog-iversary (about a week, I think) and I think nothing would be more appropriate of a celebration than starting a new book.  And just as you started us with Tristram Shandy oh so long ago I charge you to find us a new winner of a read to discuss.

Well I’m going to try and finish 2666–wish me luck!




What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate

November 22, 2008

Hi Twin,

Perhaps you misunderstand your responsibilities…you don’t have to write a book for us to read…merely pick a title that sounds interesting (really it doesn’t even have to be interesting).  This is not brain surgery man!  Here I’ll walk you through it.

  1. Get 3 pieces of paper.
  2. On the first piece write Finnegan’s Wake, on the second piece write Invisible Man, on the third piece write War of the Worlds.
  3. Fold each piece in half and throw them in a hat.
  4. Shoot!  Before step three you should really have gotten a hat.–that’s step 2.5
  5. OK, so this actually step 4–just ignore the numbers in front of the statement, they’ve quickly become meaningless.  The actual step isn’t to ignore the numbers…that’s an aside.    Ack!  Step 4, (erroneously labeled 5) is to pick one out of the hat.

Viola! A title!  Now that wasn’t so hard was it? (Actually as you can see, making that list was more difficult than I had anticipated).

Well while I wait (impatiently, with baited breath, on tenterhooks)…I’ll be doing some “no discussion” leisure reading.  Here’s my reading list:

When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson–because I love this series!

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson–so I can have something interesting to say at Books & Bars

And last, but not least–the last 3 months of New Yorkers…I’m way behind.

I’m looking forward to hearing your selection!



What I’ve Been Reading When I Should Have Been Reading Middlemarch

September 23, 2008

1. I Served the King of England by Bohumil Hrabal
2. Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas Friedman
3. Indignation by Philip Roth 
4. Back issues of The New Yorker
5. Back issues of Entertainment Weekly
6. Labels on detergent bottles (Who knew there was so much to know about All?)

I have to come clean (I am toying with an extended All/ laundry metaphor) there was a brief multi-week period where I thought neither of us was actually reading Middlemarch. In fact, I was just about to suggest that we abandon ship (dang, now I am mixing my metaphors) and start something new, and then I blink and you’ve finished Book 1 and now what’s this I hear about page 200.

Page 200??? Wha…? 

Anyway, I am back on the ball. And reading like a Whirlpool on the heavy wash cycle. (That’s right, baby, I am back!)

Okay, now for the scary twin moment of the day. Before I read your post, I too was contemplating writing a post about the similarities between Middlemarch and Pulp Fiction. After shaking off the cold shivers that run down my spine whenever you and I think too much alike, though, I decided to take things in a different direction.

I also had a very touching quotation that I was going to post here. Let me tell you, that George Eliot was such a softy. Just take in this heartfelt nugget:

“Plain women he regarded as he did other severe facts of life, to be faced with philosophy and investigated by science.”

I think someone was running on the delicate setting that day.

Back to reading,