The Invisible Manuscript: Ralph Ellison died leaving four decades' worth of scribbled notes, thousands of typed pages and 80 computer disks filled with work on an ambitious second novel. For 14 years, a pair of literary detectives labored to fit the pieces together. Now they're ready to share with the world. The hound of hell: Mikhail Bulgakov's satirical fantasy A Dog's Heart was written in 1925 but - thanks to Soviet censorship - went unpublished until 1987. James Meek reflects on its prophetic vision of Stalinist hubris. A master of rough crossings: A review of The Several Lives of Joseph Conrad by John Stape and Joseph Conrad: A Life by Zdzislaw Najder.
From Sibila, an interview with Jerome Sala, though slight of frame, the first " heavyweight champion of poetry". Science fiction writer William Gibson has a reputation for forecasting the future. From The Atlantic Monthly, an article on Great Moments in Literary Baseball (1987). Behold, The Washington Post's "Book World" presents a sampling of the current crop of top picture books. What creates a great artist like Gentileschi, Van Gogh or Manet? Talent or training? Artists are both born and taught. Backstage with Rene Pollesch: Theater with a biting view of society.
A review of Dandy in the Underworld: An Unauthorised Autobiography by Sebastian Horsley. A review of Painting Chinese: A Lifelong Teacher Gains the Wisdom of Youth by Herbert Kohl. A review of Get Smashed: The Story of the Men Who Made the Adverts That Changed Our Lives by Sam Delaney. A review of Lonely Avenue: The Unlikely Life and Times of Doc Pomus by Alex Halberstadt. A review of The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, YaHoWa 13 and the Source Family by Isis Aquarian.
From Asia Times, a look at how Tajikistan is mired in great power game. More on India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy by Ramachandra Guha. A review of Holy Warriors by Edna Fernandes. More on Indian Summer. From NPQ, an article on China: From democracy wall to the shopping mall, and back. From Foreign Affairs, an essay on ASEAN at 40: Mid-Life Rejuvenation?
From The Economist, something rather exciting is happening in Latin America: Adios to poverty, hola to consumption: Faster growth, low inflation, expanding credit and liberal trade are helping Latin America create a new middle class. Destitute no more: Chile, a country that pioneered reform, comes close to abolishing poverty. Scarcity in the midst of surplus: Thanks partly to ethanol from sugar cane, Brazil aims to be an energy superpower. But can it keep its own lights on? Ad busters drain Sao Paulo's colour: One Brazilian city has cleansed its streets of all advertising and billboards. Should we do the same or would an ad-free future leave us cold?
From Wired, when it comes to Americans' favorite tool for navigating the web, most White House contenders are still pretty clueless, a recent round of experiments on Google's AdWords program suggests. Drew Westen on what polls can and can't tell us in presidential politics. A Clinton-Giuliani race would be entertaining. Just remember to duck. A solid foundation for future biographers: A review of Obama by David Mendell. A strange brew of populism and environmentalism: An interview with Mike Huckabee. Here's the start of The Wingnuttiad, a tour of Greater Wingnuttia in heroic couplets, with abject apologies to Alexander Pope.
From Radical Middle, Post-partisan: The first uniquely American political ideology is being born. The first chapter from Does American Democracy Still Work? by Alan Wolfe. A review of The Supreme Court Opinions of Clarence Thomas: 1991-2006: A Conservative’s Perspective by Henry Mark Holzer. David Gordon reviews The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution by Kevin R.C. Gutzman. A review of Americanism: The Fourth Great Western Religion by David Gelernter.
From Scientific American, an op-ed Rational Atheism: An open letter to Messrs. Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and Hitchens by Michael Shermer. A review of The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. A review of Joseph's Bones: Understanding the Struggle Between God and Mankind in the Bible by Jerome Segal. A review of Is Belief in God Good, Bad or Irrelevant? A Professor and a Punk Rocker Discuss Science, Religion, Naturalism, and Christianity. The first chapter form After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty- and Thirty-Somethings Are Shaping the Future of American Religion by Robert Wuthnow.
From Forward, is it still adultery if the spouse has Alzheimer’s? Is visiting a sex worker a lot more honest than pretending you're in to someone so you can lure them to bed? Does being born beautiful gift you a better life? Or does it just seem that way to us uglies? When we were hunter-gatherers a man’s height mattered, but can it really matter today? Yes, say the surveys: tall men attract women and are better paid. The Damaging Relationship: Why smart women make dumb mistakes about men and how it affects their lives.
Michael L. Wachter (Penn): Labor Unions: A Corporatist Institution in a Competitive World. A review of A Treatise of Civil Power by Geoffrey Hill. The first chapter from Personal Roots of Representation by Barry C. Burden. From The Spectator, an article on John Locke’s message: Unintended market consequences. A review of The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (and more). The one question you must never ask an economist: From divorce to drug dealing, they know all the answers but one. More and more on Tyler Cowen's Discover Your Inner Economist. A review of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert A. Emmons.
From Skeptic, an article on bioidentical hormones: Estrogen is good. No, it’s bad. No, it’s good. If humans and chimps are 99% alike genetically, how come we're so different? The 1% Solution: Gene-regulating regions separate humans from chimps. Female hyenas avoid incestuous mating by encouraging male relatives to look elsewhere for sex, new research shows. Philosophers wrestling with the big questions of life are no longer alone. Now scientists are struggling to define life as they manipulate it, look for it on other planets, and even create it in test tubes. The Undiscovered Country: The statistics of death show leaps in modern life expectancy but fail to answer the question: Why do we die?
While it may appear that conflict is an inevitable part of interaction between groups, research actually suggests that fighting, hating and contempt between groups is not a necessary part of human nature. One man's epic quest: Gary Lynch has spent decades trying to understand how the brain processes new information so that we can recall it later. A review of Mind (Key Concepts in Philosophy Series) by Eric Matthews. Can computers recognize faces? In at least one way, the smartest machines can't match a baby. Research finds why we are unable to distinguish faces of other races (and sometimes our own). Mapping the Face: New research into how the face stores fat could lead to more effective anti-aging strategies, better facial reconstruction techniques, and may even help doctors assess heart-disease risks.