Mortality, a posthumous collection of Christopher Hitchens’s short essays on living with terminal esophageal cancer—“a distinctly bizarre way of ‘living,’” he emphasizes, “lawyers in the morning and doctors in the afternoon”—is an odd little book, neither fully a cancer memoir nor
A compelling mixed review is a devilishly difficult thing to write. Raves and pans have obvious, inherent drama, as they get to trumpet great successes or bemoan deplorable failures. But a mixed review must share the less exciting news that something is good, not great—or that, while the work in
It goes by several names and takes a range of forms, but as with so many protean phenomena, we know it when we see it. Participation-based art, social engagement, social practice: Art that takes relations between people as its medium is currently ascendant, with specialized MFA programs, new
Seven years ago, trying to decide between two book topics, I was spending half my time interviewing magicians and going to magic shows and the other half interviewing shoplifters and going to shoplifting-addiction groups. But then came a moment when I began to wonder whether magic was a good subject
Trying to make art creates a host of problems. One of the best ways of handling these, as John Baldessari seems to have realized in the mid-1960s, is to let the problems be someone else's. Then art becomes like the news. "I just read it and laugh," Baldessari once reflected, "say, what the hell is
Not long ago I had a very foolish dream. I was sitting alone in a house when the phone began to ring in another room, a room in which my girlfriend, in turn, was asleep. I didn’t get to it before she awoke and answered it, annoyed, and of course it was for me. The woman on the line said something
Among the course offerings announced by the University of Michigan in the fall of 2000 was an undergraduate English seminar titled “How to Be Gay.” Led by professor David M. Halperin, a well-known figure in queer studies, the class proposed to examine the Lavender Canon in all its mincing
When I was eleven years old, my room was a shrine to the New York City sports stars of the 1980s. The posters on my wall included the Giants’ fearsome linebacker Lawrence Taylor, the Knicks’ quicksilver forward Bernard King, and the Mets’ triumvirate of awesomeness: first baseman Keith Hernandez,
How do we define the corruption that money brings to our politics? It's easy to be vaguely concerned about "money in politics" in the dollar-saturated public sphere that's risen up following 2010's Citizens United and subsequent federal-court decisions. But the "corruption" that's taking place now isn't as simple as some would make it seem, and its complexity contributes directly to its power and endurance.
Ruben Castaneda may be the nicest crack addict in the history of the drug. His worst transgression seems to be missing his brother's wedding-rehearsal dinner. He also, in the grips of his disease, began to call people near and far saying he'd lost his wallet, and showed up for work disheveled and reeking of booze.
It is both reassuring and unnerving to recall the Cold War as conducted with books rather than tanks. Both the CIA and the KGB implicitly endorsed Maxim Gorky's proclamation that "books are the most important and most powerful weapons in socialist culture."
Web-enabled innovations like crowdfunding make for wonderful add-ons to, but very poor substitutes for, existing cultural institutions. We have never fully grasped the logic that has produced these institutions in the first place—and, in pre-digital times, we didn't really have to.
Utopianism is as much an enunciation of a better world as it is an enactment of one. Benjamin Kunkel's Utopia or Bust, a guide to several of the master theoreticians of the left, helps us believe in a future alternative to our present.
Anand Giridharadas's The True American operates on the seemingly provocative question of who is more American: the Bangladeshi air-force officer who immigrates to Dallas, hires on as a gas-station cashier, and dreams of working with computers; or the Bud-swilling, tatted, truck-driving, meth-blasted Texas peckerwood who shot him as "revenge" for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Which man more encapsulates the true core of American ideals? And, really, what are America's post-9/11 ideals?
A meticulous exposé of the meat industry, The Meat Racket is about more than just how big companies are ruining rural farmers. It's also more than another installment in the stomach-churning saga of the industrialization of our food supply. Christopher Leonard, whether he means to or not, is telling a broader story about American business, consumerism, and—most of all—greed.
This is a study of how authority maintains authority—and of how the subjugated stay subjugated, in ways spoken and unspoken. Oppressive structure exists not just as a matter of corporate policy but in the very architecture of the workplace—the physical boundaries within which the business of business is carried out. The genius of Cubed is that Saval recognizes the mood of barely controlled panic that suffuses most American offices, and tracks it through every element of the overmanaged, time-sucking, and keystroke-counting world of work.
In Young Money, Kevin Roose investigates why young people still seek jobs on Wall Street even after the crash of 2008 revealed it to be a seeping moral gutter. Roose, a writer for New York magazine, is something of a specialist in reporting on publicity-averse subcultures. In 2009, he published an