In The New York Review of Books, Anthony Grafton has a long piece on the issues facing the American university system. I’ve previously linked to Malcolm Harris‘ excellent n+1 piece on the “higher education bubble,” but this infographic vividly illustrates that same inflation.
“I suspect ‘chess rage’ and ‘road rage’ are neighboring neural impulses.” Tom Russell at Guernica Magazine has written a fascinating essay on a summer spent playing chess in Bryant Park and the unexpected artistic beauty of the game. Here’s a cursorily-related review of The Chess Machine, a book which features an unbeatable chess-playing automaton controlled by a dwarf.
For two weeks last summer, Colin Dickey sailed around the coast of Svalbard in the Arctic Circle. On one occasion, his voyage was stalled by heavy fog, and his group was obligated to anchor near Amsterdamøya. As one does, he used the occasion to ruminate about scurvy – or “polar night disease” – which claimed the lives of many sailors buried in the area’s graves.
You may have heard (via this site or elsewhere) that Harold Bloom has a new book out. In the Times Sunday Book Review, Cynthia Ozick gives her take, identifying the critic’s use of the phrase “without precedent” as key to understanding his theory. You could also read Matt Hanson on Bloom’s classic The Anatomy of Influence.
Martin Amis’ The Pregnant Widow is out today (Kakutani sez, “remarkably tedious” but The Guardian adds, “Amis might draw comfort from the long and distinguished list of Kakutani’s literary victims.”) Also out, Sebastian Junger’s War, the result of time spent embedded with a platoon of the 173rd Airborne brigade in Afghanistan.
Kudos to Claire Vaye Watkins for taking home the Dylan Thomas Prize! Worth £30,000, the prize went to Watkins because, in the words of of the chair of the judging panel, she possesses “some of Dylan Thomas’s extraordinary skill in the short story form.” (Read more about Watkins’s work in Geoff Mak’s review of her 2012 book Battleborn.)