Tag Archives: The LA Review of Books

The Hedgehog’s Array: August 12, 2016

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Noteworthy reads from the last week (or so):

“Monstrous Births,” Sarah Blackwood
“Perhaps it might be time to abandon altogether the idea of childbirth as a moral experience?”

“Are you dating a Fox News spy? Read it at Gawker, as the news site careens toward bankruptcy sale,” Matt D. Pearce
“It is time to soak up Gawker Media’s final days of freedom before the irreverent, influential and financially doomed media company goes up for sale next week.”

“Lives and Misfortunes of Lorenzo Da Ponte,” Antonio Muñoz Molina
“We imagine a very old man walking in New York in the twenties and thirties of the nineteenth century, recalling as if in a dream all the lives that he had lived, as remote as the opera performances that he used to attend in the Vienna of his youth, in an extinguished world.”

“Make America Austria Again: How Robert Musil Predicted the Rise of Donald Trump,” David Auerbach
“Trump is one of the most emotionally needy figures in American political history.”

“Delusion at the Gastropub,” Heather Havrilesky
“Food is personal. It’s sensual, it’s nostalgic, it’s political. But contrary to the slogans of our officious foodie overlords, food is not everything.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: April 15, 2016

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Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“How an Internet Mapping Glitch Turned a Random Kansas Farm Into a Digital Hell,” Kashmir Hill
“One important lesson of my sleuthing is that IP addresses, which get used as digital evidence in criminal trials and to secure search warrants, are not always reliable. Like Social Security numbers, they were a numerical system built for one purpose that are now used for something completely different.”

“Shakespeare’s Rotten Weeds, Shakespeare’s Deep Trenches,” William Logan
“A poet may make a poem worse in revision, may soften effects that give it the wrong conviction and finish when required for a chain of sonnets. Shakespeare likely had written the poems from immediate impulse, as his friendship with the Fair Youth developed, stumbled, had consequences. There was no need to polish them, because they were private. He passed a few to friends—which tells us little more than that he had friends.”

“Type Slowly: Word Processing and Literary Composition,” Dylan Hicks
“If, in one traditional view, literary perfection was either illusory or the province of poems and other short works, now, it seemed, even a long novel could be refined to an apotheosis of unalterable integrity.”

“Picturing Don Quixote,” Rachel Schmidt
“Whatever Cervantes’ initial idea, in the course of the last 400 years, Don Quixote has embarked on a journey in the world imagination that has taken the literary character far beyond its original conception. The book illustrations of Cervantes’ Don Quixote would play a decisive role in this — transforming not only the image of Don Quixote and his loyal servant Sancho Panza but also by giving life to the image of Cervantes himself.”

“Suspicious Minds,” Evan Kindley
“It is in detective and spy stories, Boltanski argues, that we find the clearest expression of many of the paranoid attitudes and ideas expressed more apologetically and self-consciously in the social sciences and in everyday political life.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: March 18, 2015

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Noteworthy reads from the past week:

“Homelessness and the Politics of Hope,” Sydney Morrow
“At what point ought we cease to hold people to a standard that they do not seem able or willing to maintain?”

“Viktor Shklovsky and the Horror Behind Ostranenie,” Alexandra Berlina
“When a scholar claims that ‘acute experience’ of the world is to be found in literature, one might suspect that his real life consists largely of book dust. Nothing could be further from the truth in the case of Shklovsky.”

“Home Economics,” Heather Boushey
“Today’s families need a new contract with their employers, one that provides stability in a world where we are interacting with the economy in new ways.”

“We Other Puritans,” Michael Robbins
“Successful genre work often recycles old tropes—the demons of adolescent sexuality have haunted folk literature for centuries. But The Witch is about as subtle as a jack in the box.”

“A Life in Letters,” Doris Grumbach
“Remember when, years ago, the waiter in an upscale restaurant would come to the table between courses and clear the cloth with a little plate and brush? Now I am doing this between memories, and the crumb I find there concerns a book I never wrote.”

Hedgehogs abroad:

“Polling the Soul,” Jeff Guhin
“Yet there’s another curious problem with Inventing American Religion, which is Wuthnow’s insistence that the problems of polling are somehow utterly separate from the broader problems of social science.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: February 5, 2016

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Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“The Flowers of Romance,” Heather Havrilesky
“At a time when popularity is taken not just as a signifier of value but as the exact same thing as value, it is necessary and worthwhile to absorb just how bad the really bad books manage to get away with being while still selling millions of copies internationally.”

 “What To Expect When You’re Expecting The Collapse Of Society As We Know It,” Anne Helen Petersen
“Forget the color-coded bunker, the carefully organized bug-out bags, and the piles of cash she keeps strategically stashed around the house. The most compelling thing about Bedford is how much sense her entire philosophy makes—and how it casts the rest of our utter unpreparedness into sharp relief.”

“How Many French-Literature Degrees Is Kentucky Really Paying For?,” Eric Kelderman
“Data from the state’s Council on Postsecondary Education show that relatively little state money supports students in any foreign-language field.”

“Eight Excuses I Have Told My Son to Use for His Failure to Hand in English Homework, Excuses I Have Learned are Acceptable During a Thirty-Year Career in Journalism, Books,
and Film,” Nick Hornby
“Dear Mrs D,
Thanks for your homework. Your idea of writing a Christmas ghost story was a good one, but it’s not really the kind of thing I tend to do—it’s a little bit too genre for my tastes. Try Kevin, who sits next to me. He loves that stuff.”

 “Of Love and Politics,” Aurelian Craiutu
“True to his commitment to moderation, Oakeshott sought to put politics and political participation in their right place, neither too high nor too low. Our first business, he argued, is to live, the second is to understand life properly, and only after that comes changing the world, to the extent to which that might be possible.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: September 25, 2015

hedgehog array logo_FLAT_72dpi[3]Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“Down the Rabbit Hole,” Evan Kindley
“What makes a good annotator? It’s some combination, apparently, of excess and restraint: an instinct for when to tell us more than we need to know (or more than we knew there was to know) balanced with a refusal to bore us.”

“This Free Online Encyclopedia Has Achieved What Wikipedia Can Only Dream Of,” Nikhil Sonnad
“The [Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy] is a highly rare case of knowledge being separated from the trash heap. The question is, can we make more of the internet like this?”

“The Magic of Untidiness,” Laurel Berger
“Renewal is what we do each time we revisit a book. It’s not only the text that holds meaning, but the thing itself and the imprint that time and lived experience have left on it.”

“How Naked People Took Over Reality Television,” James Parker
“The discourse of true love, of finding the right person, etc., winds bizarrely and distractingly through Dating Naked, past the yoga boners and the lewd poolside fondlings.”

“The Pamphleteers,” Scott Porch and Gordon Wood
“The pamphlets are hard to read. There are too many citations to Cicero and Tacitus, and there’s a very limited audience for that. To some extent, that’s true today. People who read The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and Atlantic Monthly are the same people.”

“Broken Links,” Alana Massey
“I asked Michael L Nelson, a computer scientist at Old Dominion University in Virginia, how likely it is that someone, or something, could follow my trail back to find the comments and profiles I’d flung across the internet in the 1990s and early 2000s.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: August 21, 2015

hedgehog array logo_FLAT_72dpi[3]Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“Selling Out the Newspaper Comic Strip,” Luke Epplin
Calvin and Hobbes, which centered on a headstrong child and a stuffed tiger that comes to life under his gaze, shared many similarities with Peanuts: articulate children, fantasy sequences, episodic storylines, philosophical undercurrents, and an aversion to facile punch lines. But Schulz and Watterson harbored fundamental disagreements about the nature and direction of their medium, and their entrenched beliefs shaped their divergent approaches to comics as both an art and a business.”

“Melancholy,” Carina del Valle Schorske
“Melancholy is a word that has fallen out of favor for describing the condition we now call depression. The fact that our language has changed, without the earlier word disappearing completely, indicates that we are still able to make use of both.”

“The Ashley Madison Hack Should Scare You, Too,” Heather Havrilesky
“At the exact moment when citizens worldwide should be noticing that we’re all living in glass houses, many of us are picking up stones instead.”

“Why Can’t People Just Be Sensible?,” Jenny Diski
“Oh, Doris would say to anyone in any kind of emotional trouble, why can’t people just be sensible? Once or twice I shouted back: because we’re people. The answer carried no weight at all.”

“The Riders of the Waves,” Alice Gregory
“Reputations are made and maintained in the ocean, but they’re premised on more than just talent. Seniority, humility, pain tolerance, and a hundred other factors contribute to a surfer’s local eminence.”

Hedgehogs abroad:

“Gallery Chronicle,” Leann Davis Alspaugh
“El Greco (1541–1614) knew the value of his work and was not afraid to go to court to prove his point.”

“The Genealogy of Orals,” Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
“When someone from abroad wants to learn about our university system, his first pressing question is: How do your students participate in university life? We answer: By means of the ear — they take part as listeners. The foreigner is amazed and asks: Purely by listening? Purely by listening, we repeat.”
(excerpted from Anti-Education, a volume of Nietzsche’s lectures edited by Chad Wellmon)

“Digital Star Chamber,” Frank Pasquale
“For wines or films, the stakes are not terribly high. But when algorithms start affecting critical opportunities for employment, career advancement, health, credit and education, they deserve more scrutiny.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: January 16, 2015

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Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“A window on Chaucer’s cramped, scary, smelly world,” Sam Leith
“Chaucer had been skeptical of fame and authorial peacocking; and concomitantly of written transmission: his poems had been read for pleasure and amusement to a small group of friends in London. With his exile in Kent, he lost an audience; and so he channelled the companionable orality of his verse into a polyphonic anthology of stories whose audience — the pilgrims — he invented for himself. Lonely, in other words, Chaucer put the audience for his poem into the poem itself.”

“The Rhetoric of Cowardice,” Kyle Williams
“Cowardice once had something to do with the obligations of community. We used the word when courage faltered and duties were left undone. But now we rarely use or hear it outside of the politics of national security.”

“James Thurber Lost Most of His Eyesight to a Tragic Childhood Accident,” Danny Heitman
“Because of his poor eyesight, Thurber was sometimes unsure of what he was seeing in his later years, and this fuzziness of perception underscored his sense that the line between fantasy and reality could be tenuous—a feeling that rests at the heart of his stories and cartoons.”

“When I Grow Up,” Rebecca Mead
“At first glance, the experience offered by KidZania appears to draw on aspects both of symbolic play—the ‘let’s pretend’ aspect of dressing up as a fireman—and of rule-based play, with its enactment of conformity to civic regulation. But by some definitions the activities at KidZania, however entertaining, barely qualify as play at all.”

“To the Office, With Love,” Jennifer Senior
“Say what you want about the future of work, but this much is clear: The traditional compact between employers and employees is slowly fading away, and with it, a way of thinking, a way of living, a way of relating to others and regarding oneself that generally comes with a reasonably predictable professional life.”

“Hollywood Calling,” Christopher Grobe
“Tinseltown’s First Law of Telephone Scenes is about to be put to the ultimate test. There are two films eligible for an Oscar this year that are made entirely of telephone calls: Locke (2013) and The Phone Call (2013). These are obvious star vehicles for Tom Hardy and Sally Hawkins, respectively, and if either is nominated and wins, you can bet Luise’s ghost will be haunting that podium.”

“On Edgar Allan Poe,” Marilynne Robinson
“Poe’s great tales turn on guilt concealed or denied, then abruptly and shockingly exposed. He has always been reviled or celebrated for the absence of moral content in his work, despite the fact that these tales are all straightforward moral parables.”

“Imperfect Tenderness,” Tim Hodler
“Satire is an unusual art form, in that it is designed to be misunderstood.”

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