House for Sale →
by Jonathan Franzen My mother’s house, in Webster Groves, was dark except for a lamp on a timer in the living room. Letting myself inside, I went directly to the liquor shelf and poured the hammer of a drink I’d been promising myself since before the first of my two flights. I had a Viking sense of entitlement to whatever provisions I could plunder.
Undecided Voters →
by David Sedaris To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”
Power Trip →
by Emily Maloney Grab your 3-D glasses, pin that name tag to your jacket and get on the bus for a class excursion to a nuclear power plant.
The Wave-Maker →
by William Langewiesche When Ken Bradshaw caught the largest wave ever surfed, in 1998, he was riding on pure, single-minded passion. On Oahu’s famed North Shore, the author learns about the 58-year-old maverick’s record-breaking encounter with 85 feet of “Condition Black” water.
Opium Made Easy →
by Michael Pollan Whether or not the opium poppies in your garden are illicit depends not on what you do, or even intend to do, with them but very simply on what you know about them. So, if you have any desire to grow opium poppies, you would be wise to stop reading now.
Black Like Them →
by Malcolm Gladwell My cousins, Rosie and Noel, are from Jamaica. They don’t consider themselves black at all.
FX Porn →
by David Foster Wallace Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park aren’t really “movies” in the standard sense at all. What they really are is half a dozen or so isolated, spectacular scenes - scenes comprising maybe twenty or thirty minutes of riveting, sensuous payoff - strung together via another sixty to ninety minutes of flat, dead, and often hilariously insipid narrative.
Lost in the Meritocracy →
by Walter Kirn Percentile is destiny in America. Your fate deicded by a test that measures … what, exactly? Just “aptitude.” Aptitude for showing aptitude, mainly. Nobody told us it wouldn’t be enough.
How Not to Talk to Your Kids →
by Po Bronson A growing body of research suggests that labeling kids “smart” does not prevent them from underperforming. Instead, it might actually be holding them back.
Climbing the Redwoods →
by Richard Preston The main trunk of a coast redwood can be up to twenty-five feet in diameter near its base, and in some cases it can extend upward from the ground for more than two hundred and fifty feet before the first strong branches emerge and the crown of the tree begins to flare. The crown of a tall coast redwood is typically an irregular spire that can look like the plume of a rocket...
The Abyss →
by Oliver Sacks His ability to perceive what he saw and heard was unimpaired. But he did not seem to be able to retain any impression of anything for more than a blink.
My Endless New York →
by Tony Judt Just what is a “world city”? Mexico City, at 18 million people, or São Paulo at near that, are unmanageable urban sprawls; they are not “world cities.” Conversely, Paris - where the population has never exceeded three million - was the capital of the 19th century.
That Crafty Feeling →
by Zadie Smith What I have to say about craft extends no further than my own experience, which is what it is - 12 years and three novels. Although this lecture will be divided into ten short sections meant to mark the various stages in the writing of a novel, what they most accurately describe, in truth, is the writing of my novels.
The Hippies →
by Hunter S. Thompson The best year to be a hippie was 1965, but then there was not much to write about, because not much was happening in public and most of what was happening in private was illegal. The real year of the hippie was 1966, despite the lack of publicity, which in 1967 gave way to a nationwide avalanche - in Look, Life, Time, Newsweek, the Atlantic, the New York Times, the...
Colombia: The Return of Death →
by Martin Amis On the streets of Colombia, young boys cripple or murder each other just for showing disrespect or for winning at a game of cards. Is the taste for violence opening up wounds that can never heal?
A Comet's Tale →
by Tom Bissel The hirsute old thunderbolt-hurlers to whom we long paid tribute - priapic Zeus, testy Yahweh-cannot map the genome, or tell us our past, or even explain our future. Only we can do that. “Playing God” previously meant the ability to take life, a feat we too can now achieve with spectacularly divine wrath. The old God, whatever his alias, is dead, and the God we are...
Silver or Lead →
by William Finnegan The Mexican drug cartel La Familia gives local officials a choice: Take a bribe or a bullet.
The Coldest War →
by Kevin Fedarko High in the Karakoram, the stubborn armies of India and Pakistan have faced off for 19 years on the Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest battleground and perhaps it’s most futile conflict.
The Lost City of Z →
by David Grann Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett, a British explorer, disappeared in 1925 while trying to uncover a lost civilization hidden in the Amazon, which he had named, simply, the City of Z. In the next seven decades, scores of explorers had tried and failed to retrace Fawcett’s path. Some nearly died of starvation, while others retreated in the face of tribes that attacked with poisoned...
Wildflowers and Weed →
by David Sedaris In Paris they warn you before cutting off the water, but out in Normandy you’re just supposed to know. You’re also supposed to be prepared, and it’s this last part that gets me every time…
Ten Authors We Love →
(with links to outstanding articles and essays) Hunter S. Thompson - The smokescreen of excess can’t disguise the raw power of Dr Gonzo’s electric prose. Some of his best work is available here. David Foster Wallace - Another non-fiction writer in a class of his own. DFW combines unrivalled intellect and originality with breathtaking style. For selected essays click here. Joan...
The Capital-T Truth →
by David Foster Wallace The most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but in the day-to-day trenches of life, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance.
Java Man →
by Malcolm Gladwell One of the things that have always made drugs so powerful is their cultural adaptability, their way of acquiring meanings beyond their pharmacology. And there is no drug quite as effortlessly adaptable as caffeine, the Zelig of chemical stimulants.
What the Bagel Man Saw →
by Stephen J. Dubner “I’d go to the office Christmas party, and people would introduce me to their wives or husbands as the guy who brings in the bagels,” he says. “‘Oh! You’re the guy who brings in the bagels!’ Nobody ever said, ‘This is the guy in charge of the public research group.’”
by Tony Judt Night I suffer from a motor neuron disorder, which constitutes progressive imprisonment without parole. First you lose the use of a digit or two; then a limb; then and almost inevitably, all four. Girls! Girls! Girls! In 1992 I was chairman of the History Department at New York University - where I was also the only unmarried straight male under sixty. A combustible blend:...
Real Property →
by Sara Davidson Living in Venice is like living in a camp for semi-demented adults. At every hour, day and night, there are people playing volleyball, running, rolling on skates, riding bikes, skateboards, surfboards, flying kites, drinking milk, eating quiche lorraine. Old people sit under umbrellas playing checkers. Body builders work out in a sandy pen, and crowds line up three deep to...
The First 3,650 Days →
by Charles P. Pierce The most enduring lesson is the one that is forgotten, over and over, as our technology gets more advanced and an age already accelerated begins to pick up even more speed. The most enduring lesson is our apparently limitless capacity to be caught unaware.
The Motorcycle Gangs →
by Hunter S. Thompson Ever since World War II, California has been strangely plagued by wild men on motorcycles. They usually travel in groups of ten to thirty, booming along the highways and stopping here are there to get drunk and raise hell.
Local Bounty →
by Calvin Trillin Although a grandparent who arrives on the scene after the birth of a child is traditionally pictured cooking dinner for sleep-deprived parents or stuffing the freezer with casseroles, I can tell you that these days it’s mostly takeout…