How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read →
by Pierre Bayard There is more than one way not to read, the most radical of which is not to open a book at all. For any given reader, however dedicated he might be, such total abstention necessarily holds true for virtually everything that has been published, and thus in fact this constitutes our primary way of relating to books.
by Tom Junod There are billions of humans on earth, and trillions upon trillions of ants - an estimated 1.6 million for every human being. If the earth were a scale, and all the humans were placed on one side and all the ants on the other, it would not budge. Ants have answered the ever-expanding human biomass with an ever-expanding biomass of their own, so that the planet is poised, teetering...
Sweatpants in Paradise →
by Molly Young It is sometimes possible to define the depth of an experience by means of how radically it slows or hastens your sense of time. Swimming, fighting, nightmaring, enduring a migraine, having sex: these are all activities that move at exceptional rates. Shopping, too, and if you don’t believe me, just enter a mall before sundown and see how you feel when you reemerge into darkness.
by Martin Amis If you were confined to a single adjective to describe Vegas you would have to settle for the following: un-Islamic.
The Gun →
by C. J. Chivers In Vietnam, for the first time in human history, a poorly trained peasant army humbled a great power. Key to the success of the Vietcong was the revolutionary weapon carried by its fighters: the legendary AK47.
Hail the Returning Dragon, Clothed in New Fire →
by David Foster Wallace You know this love story. A gallant knight espies a fair maiden in the distant window of a forbidding-type castle. Their eyes meet - smokily - across the withered heath. Instant chemistry. And so good Sir Knight comes tear-assing toward the castle, brandishing his lance. Can he just gallop up and carry the fair maiden off? Not quite. First he’s got to get past the...
On Self Respect →
by Joan Didion Once, in a dry season, I wrote in large letters across two pages of a notebook that innocence ends when one is stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself. Although now, some years later, I marvel that a mind on the outs with itself should have nonetheless made painstaking record of its every tremor, I recall with embarrassing clarity the flavor of those particular ashes. It...
The Possibilian →
by Burkhard Bilger When David Eagleman was eight years old, he fell off a roof and kept on falling. Or so it seemed at the time.
We Blew It →
by P. J. O’Rourke The sludge and dreck of political muck-funds flowing to prosperous businesses and individuals got deeper and more slippery and stank worse than ever with conservatives minding the sewage works of legislation.
Maggie and Trudie →
by Douglas Adams I am not, I should say at once, in any formal relationship with a dog. I don’t feed a dog, give it a bed, groom it, find kennels for it when I’m away, delouse it or suddenly arrange for any of its internal organs to be removed when they displease me. I do not, in short, own a dog. On the other hand, I do have a kind of furtive, illicit relationship with a dog or...
The Last Ace →
by Mark Bowden Over Cesar Rodriguez’s desk hangs a macabre souvenir of his decades as a fighter pilot. It is a large framed picture, a panoramic cockpit view of open sky and desert. A small F‑15 Eagle is visible in the distance, but larger and more immediate, filling the center of the shot, staring right at the viewer, is an incoming missile.
Doing the Monkey Shuffle →
Tom Chiarella’s guide to alpha male psychology The Art of the Handshake A perfunctory gesture? Hardly. It defines the exchange. A hands-on study of a subtle craft. The Invisible Grip Maintaining eye contact feels awkward, even creepy. At first. Then it just feels powerful. On Saying No Not “No, thanks.” Not “nope.” Just “no.” clear, unambiguous,...
Hogs Wild →
by Ian Frazier Of all the domesticated animals, none become feral more readily, or survive better in the wild, than the hog. Of all the larger animals, none reproduce as quickly and abundantly as the hog. The number of wild hogs in the United States - maybe four and a half million, maybe five - is unlikely to go down. The wild hog is an infestation machine.
The Place to Disapear →
by Susan Orlean Thailand, the most pliant of places, has always accommodated even the rudest of visitors. Starting in the early eighties, when foreigners started trekking to such places as Myanmar and Tibet and Vietnam, Thailand took on another hostessing job, because Bangkok was the safest, easiest, most Westernized place from which to launch a trip through Asia.
The Squid Hunter →
by David Grann On a moonless January night in 2003, Olivier de Kersauson, the French yachtsman, was racing across the Atlantic Ocean, trying to break the record for the fastest sailing voyage around the world, when his boat mysteriously came to a halt. There was no land for hundreds of miles, yet the mast rattled and the hull shuddered, as if the vessel had run aground…
The Tinkerings of Robert Noyce →
by Tom Wolfe On the face of it, there you had Grinnell Iowa, in 1948: a piece of mid-nineteenth century American history frozen solid in the middle of the twentieth. It was one of the last towns in America that people back east would have figured to become the starting point of a bolt into the future that would create the very substructure, the electronic grid, of life in the year 2000 and...
The Problem of Evil →
by Tony Judt The first work by Hannah Arendt that I read, at the age of sixteen, was Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.1 It remains, for me, the emblematic Arendt text. It is not her most philosophical book. It is not always right; and it is decidedly not her most popular piece of writing. I did not even like the book myself when I first read it…
You Can't Kill the Rooster →
by David Sedaris Use the word y’all and, before you knew it, you’d find yourself in a haystack French-kissing an underage goat. Along with grits and hush puppies, the abbreviated form of “you all” was a dangerous step on an insidious path leading straight to the doors of the Baptist church.
After Life →
by Joan Didion Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.
The Greatest Album Ever Made →
by Lester Bangs It has been suggested that in my annual regress report to the stockholders, published here last month, I neglected in all five thousand words to ever once mention why Metal Machine Music is a good album. So here, especially in light of Coney Island Baby, are the reasons…
By Meat Alone →
by Calvin Trillin I’ve heard it argued that, absent some slippage in management, a barbecue restaurant can only get better over time: many Texas barbecue fanatics have a strong belief in the beneficial properties of accumulated grease.
by John Sack One, two, three at the most weeks and they would give M company its orders — they being those dim Olympian entities who reputedly threw cards into an IBM machine or into a hat to determine where each soldier in M would go next, which ones to stay there in the United States, which to live softly in Europe, and which to fight and to die in Vietnam.
The World in its Extreme →
by William Langewiesche The Sahara is a desert so vast that no airplane can diminish it. Certainly this one couldn’t. I sat behind the pilots in the cockpit of an Air Algeria turboprop lumbering at 18,000 feet across southern Algeria. The airplane was a Dutch-built Fokker 27, a stodgy forty-passenger twin, doing 220 miles an hour; it had come from the capital city, Algiers, on a...
The Curse of Lono →
by Hunter S. Thompson We were about 40 minutes out of San Francisco when the crew finally decided to take action on the problem in lavatory 1B. The door had been locked since take-off, and now the chief stewardess had summoned the copilot down from the flight deck. He appeared in the aisle right beside me, carrying a strange-looking black tool, like a flashlight with blades or some kind of...
Nothing Happened →
by David Foster Wallace Here is a weird one for you. It was a couple of years ago, and I was 19, and getting ready to move out of my folks’ house, and get out on my own, and one day as I was getting ready, I suddenly get this memory of my father waggling his dick in my face one time when I was a little kid. The memory comes up out of nowhere, but it is so detailed and solid-seeming, I...
I Sing of Fizzy Fluid Retention →
by P. J. O’Rourke The decline of spinsters? Smoke-free Living? Drawing on a vast new statistical compendium, our commentator unearths, examines, and extrapolates the hidden challenges to America.
How to Save the News →
by James Fallows Everyone knows that Google is killing the news business. Few people know that Google is trying to bring it back to life, or why the company now considers journalism crucial to its own prospects.