Many years ago, in an era when the phrases “boob tube,” “idiot box” and “vast wasteland” went unchallenged as television descriptors among the Discerning Classes, I sat in a pool of prospective jurors on a case involving a fancy jeweler. Aiming, apparently, to assess whether we were likely to confuse the actions of real-life rich people with those on “Dynasty,” the defense lawyer asked each of us, “Do you watch TV?” “Nah,” swore a majority of my exceptionally discriminating citizen peers. “Just a little.” “Maybe some ‘Nova’ from PBS on a black-and-white TV.”
Had counsel tried that line of questioning today, odds are she would have gotten a very different earful…. Today, those same potential jurors are more likely to say they don’t go to many movies (see above re “boobs” and “idiots”), because they’re home watching good television, much of it on cable rather than network TV. We’re in a fascinating moment in the creative cycles of popular culture, when television — O.K., fine, the best of television — is embracing complexity, subtlety and innovation in storytelling with an exciting maturity. We’re in a moment when the intricate structure and deep character development in long-form dramas can stand up to comparison with great literature. We’re in a time when going to work for what the brilliant British television writer Dennis Potter once called “the medium of the occupying power” is a high calling.
Lisa Schwarzbaum, in a review of Difficult Men, by Brett Martin, in this week’s Book Review.
I was only allowed to watch a few hours of tube per week growing up, when most TV really was insipid and banal. My father indeed referred to it as the boob tube; “Why don’t you read a book,” he’d say to me whenever he found me watching. Now he watches for hours every night, including several of the shows Martin discusses.
No doubt about it. The best TV is now the audio-visual equivalent of the best literary novels — a medium that allows us to follow the characters for years, to get to know them as well as we know many of our own friends and relatives.
(Source: The New York Times)
Turkmen president Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, likening himself (in the third person) to Turkmenistan’s national symbol, the hardy Akhal-Teke desert horse, in his book The Flight of Celestial Racehorse.
I highly recommend checking out this photo essay about Turkmenistan, which is beautiful, hilarious, and tragic all at once. It reminded me of one of the most memorable articles I’ve ever read in The New Yorker, Paul Theroux’s 2007 feature on Turkmenistan and its nutjob former “President for Life,” Saparmurat Niyazov.
The best way to enjoy Baz Luhrmann’s big and noisy new version of “The Great Gatsby” — and despite what you may have heard, it is an eminently enjoyable movie — is to put aside whatever literary agenda you are tempted to bring with you. I grant that this is not so easily done. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s slender, charming third novel has accumulated a heavier burden of cultural significance than it can easily bear. Short and accessible enough to be consumed in a sitting, the book has become, in the 88 years since its publication, a schoolroom staple and a pop-cultural totem. It shapes our increasingly fuzzy image of the jazz age and fuels endless term papers on the American dream and related topics.
Through this fog of glib allusion and secondhand thinking, the wistful glimmer of Fitzgerald’s prose shines like the green light at the end of Daisy Buchanan’s dock. If “The Great Gatsby” can’t quite sustain the Big Ideas that are routinely attached to it — a fact that periodically inspires showboating critical contrarians to proclaim that it’s not such a big deal after all — it nonetheless remains a lively, imaginative presence.
(Your book(s) asked to write you a personal note - it seemed unusual, but who are we to say no?)
Holy canasta! It’s me… it’s me! I can’t believe it is actually me! You could have picked any of over 2 million books but you picked me! I’ve got to get packed! How is the weather where you live? Will I need a dust jacket? I can’t believe I’m leaving Mishawaka, Indiana already - the friendly people, the Hummer plant, the Linebacker Lounge - so many memories. I don’t have much time to say goodbye to everyone, but it’s time to see the world!
I can’t wait to meet you! You sound like such a well read person. Although, I have to say, it sure has taken you a while! I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but how would you like to spend five months sandwiched between Jane Eyre (drama queen) and Fundamentals of Thermodynamics (pyromaniac)? At least Jane was an upgrade from that stupid book on brewing beer. How many times did the ol’ brewmaster have one too many and topple off our shelf at 2am?
I know the trip to meet you will be long and fraught with peril, but after the close calls I’ve had, I’m ready for anything (besides, some of my best friends are suspense novels). Just five months ago, I thought I was a goner. My owner was moving and couldn’t take me with her. I was sure I was landfill bait until I ended up in a Better World Books book drive bin. Thanks to your socially conscious book shopping, I’ve found a new home. Even better, your book buying dollars are helping kids read from Brazil to Botswana.
But hey, enough about me, I’ve been asked to brief you on a few things:
Your Order # is: 12189506
We provide quick shipping service to all our customers. You chose shipping, your book should arrive within 7 - 14 business days. At this time, we are not able to offer tracking on these shipments.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact my friends at Customer Care by submitting a ticket.. If you could please include your order number (12189506) that would be very helpful.
Eagerly awaiting our meeting,
The Book You Ordered
The purchase confirmation email I received from Better World Books after buying a book there.
Witty, indie, and altruistic, with good prices to boot. What’s not to like? I’d wholeheartedly recommended them if it weren’t for the fact that I never received the order. (In their defense, it was shipped to China. And they gave me a refund. But still.) Anyway, probably worth giving ‘em a shot. At the least, you’ll receive a quirky email or two.
(Source: The New York Times)
'HHhH' is about the rise and fall of Reinhard Heydrich, the monster whom even Hitler called “the man with the iron heart.” … Heydrich is most infamous as the man who convened the Wannsee Conference, on January 20, 1942, in an elegantly sombre villa on the shore of Lake Wannsee. It was at this meeting of high-ranking civil servants and senior officers that the Final Solution was proposed and formalized….
Many of those present at the Wannsee Conference lived justly shortened lives, and the most abbreviated was Heydrich’s. Four months after Wannsee, he was assassinated, in Prague, by Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš, two parachutists trained in England and sent from there by the Czech government-in-exile…. The parachutists ambushed Heydrich’s open-topped Mercedes as it slowed to round a bend in a city street. But Gabčík’s Sten gun jammed, and only Kubiš’s quick response saved the moment: he threw a grenade, which wounded Heydrich (who died a week later, from septicemia). Reprisals were blind and absolute: the village of Lidice, near Prague, mistakenly thought by the Nazis to have some connection with the parachutists, was burned to the ground, and nearly every one of its inhabitants was shot or sent to a concentration camp. The assassins, along with five other resisters, were hidden in a Prague church. When the Germans eventually discovered them, the seven men held out for hours, against nearly eight hundred S.S. Storm Troopers. None were taken alive.