Choire Sicha

  • I Love This Dirty Town

    James Wolcott is a carefully absent presence in his memoir of writing his way through the ’70s, despite the trademark right-in-your-ear chattiness of his writing style. The acerbic critic—now best known as a blogger for Graydon Carter’s luxe Vanity Fair—reports in his recollections of New York when it was allegedly fun that he always seemed underdressed for the uptown ballet, overdressed for downtown at CBGB. He was half wanderer-in, half walker-on, and sometimes the guy on the wall watching everyone dirtying the pretty things.

    In his reconstruction of the vaguely dangerous ’70s heyday of the

  • Sedation Nation

    In 1945, the United States had its first atom-bomb test; in 1949, the Soviets blew up one of their own. These events inspired, most immediately, what the newly Americanized W. H. Auden described as “The Age of Anxiety”—and, more recently, Dr. Atomic, the most boring and worthless John Adams opera imaginable. Did anyone relax at all between Auden and Adams? Yes: on drugs.

    Now we Americans, as Andrea Tone writes in her own The Age of Anxiety, are more likely to see a doctor for anxiety than for back pain or migraines. Tone is a professor in the Department of Social Studies of Medicine at McGill