Sarah Kerr

  • Perils of Perambulation

    Whatever the proximate cause, we all will die in the end, probably with pain, possibly with some alteration of self before it is over. This is no revelation. Yet depictions of the body in an off-kilter condition have been a mainstay recently, not just of the hospital dramas that dominate TV but of much fiction. The fascination is in tune with a culture that knows exponentially more about the workings of the body than has any in history but that remains, even with the technical know-how, unable to meet many challenges to it. We know so much that, it seems, we are surprised there could be still

  • Mating For Lefties

    Zoë Heller is a witty, observant portraitist of misanthropes. She takes a bit of a risk with her brisk, showily unsentimental protagonists whose surface confidence hides layers of rage. Rage can be gripping and funny. But overconfidence in one’s harsh judgment of others and blindness to one’s own pursuit of vast, subterranean emotional needs are qualities tougher to reform and harder to warm up to, than, say, the emotional haplessness mined by Nick Hornby.

    Yet there exist people who undernurture their children, who imagine they are strong and independent when they engage the world with barbed

  • Science Diet

    We prepare our meals from plants and animals—a fact we can choose either to note with some humility or to hide from our awareness by forgetting. This has been a recurring theme in Michael Pollan’s books of late. Like all good writers, Pollan aims to describe what he sees as precisely as he can. But this does not lead him to a showily fine prose style. That would be an aesthetic approach, and though Pollan often worries that we’ve lost the sense of pleasure, he is very much the ethicist—and, if we’re honest, he is once in a while even a scold. This is happily offset by a sly modesty (“By now,”

  • Fresh, Direct

    In The United States of Arugula, his deft chronicle of the rise of gourmet America, author David Kamp gives us the memories of Nora Ephron, whose reporting on the gourmet beat back in the 1960s made her "the New Journalism movement's designated foodie." Ephron recalls how, starting "in the late fifties and early sixties, sophisticated cooking became the thing to do: you were an adult, and therefore you cooked. And bought Le Creuset pots and good knives. It was just what you did—sort of like smoking dope became a few years later." This early culinary boomlet, spearheaded first by James Beard