Few could explain, let alone seek out, a career in criticism. Yet what A.O. Scott shows in Better Living Through Criticism is that we are, in fact, all critics: because critical thinking informs almost every aspect of artistic creation, of civil action, of interpersonal life. With penetrating insight and warm humor, Scott shows that while individual critics—himself included—can make mistakes and find flaws where they shouldn't, criticism as a discipline is one of the noblest, most creative, and urgent activities of modern existence.
Using his own film criticism as a starting point—everything from his infamous dismissal of the international blockbuster The Avengers to his intense affection for Pixar's animated Ratatouille—Scott expands outward, easily guiding readers through the complexities of Rilke and Shelley, the origins of Chuck Berry and the Rolling Stones, the power of Marina Abramovich and 'Ode on a Grecian Urn.' Drawing on the long tradition of criticism from Aristotle to Susan Sontag, Scott shows that real criticism was and always will be the breath of fresh air that allows true creativity to thrive. "The time for criticism is always now," Scott explains, "because the imperative to think clearly, to insist on the necessary balance of reason and passion, never goes away."
In a Democracy Now! special, we spend the hour with StoryCorps founder Dave Isay, discussing his new book, "Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work." Over the last 12 years, StoryCorps has gathered the largest single collection of human voices. In 2003, the first StoryCorps recording booth opened in New York City’s Grand Central Station. Since then, a quarter of a million of people have recorded interviews with their loved ones through StoryCorps. The new book is a remarkable collection of stories from the heart of the American workforce: teachers, social workers, public defenders, deli workers, plant supervisors and beyond. They include stories by dreamers, healers, philosophers and groundbreakers. "This is kind of a radical book," Isay says. "There’s no billionaires, there’s no millionaires, there’s no celebrities, there’s no professional athletes, but to me these are really the stories of work that matter." Author and Editor in Chief of io9, Charlie Jane Anders, comes to Google to talk about her latest novel, "All the Birds in the Sky."
Synopsis: Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn't expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one's peers and families.
But now they're both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who's working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world's magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world's every-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together—to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.
A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.
About the Author: Charlie Jane Anders is the editor-in-chief of io9.com, the extraordinarily popular Gawker Media site devoted to science fiction and fantasy. Her Tor.com story "Six Months, Three Days" won the 2013 Hugo Award and was subsequently picked up for development into a NBC television series. She has also had fiction published by Tin House, Asimov's Science Fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Lightspeed, and ZYZZYVA. Her debut novel, the mainstream Choir Boy, won the 2006 Lambda Literary Award and was shortlisted for the Edmund White Award. She hosts the long-running literary event Writers With Drinks.
Demos and Strand Books invite you to a timely and lively discussion between Demos’ Tamara Draut, author of the new book Sleeping Giant: How the New Working Class Will Transform America, and Bob Herbert, former New York Times columnist and a Demos fellow as well.
Draut and Herbert will discuss the struggles, politics and burgeoning power of the new working class. With an eye towards our upcoming presidential election, and its impact on America’s working families, Draut and Herbert will explore how these fearless workers are shifting the political landscape.
Sleeping Giant is the first major examination of the new working class and the role it will play in our economic and political future. The book explores how the new working class — both more female and more racially diverse than its predecessors — faces major obstacles and opportunities in reclaiming the political power that defined the industrial working class. The stakes are high: Restoring the political and economic power of today’s working class, Draut argues, is the best path to securing all of our economic futures. Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed, called the book a “thorough and lively report on the ‘new working class’ that inhabits our ‘bargain basement economy.’”
Tamara Draut is Vice President of Policy and Research at Demos, a national think tank headquartered in New York City, and the author of Strapped: Why America’s 20- and 30-Somethings Can’t Get Ahead.
Bob Herbert is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos and a member of Common Cause's National Governing Board. He wrote for the New York Times for over twenty years, and was the recipient of the Meyer Berger Award and the American Society of Newspaper Editors award for distinguished newspaper writing. He is the author of Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America and Promises Betrayed: Waking Up from the American Dream.