“People used to wish that life could be as it is in books—that it could have the beauty, drama, and shapeliness that writers gave it. Today, by contrast, we hope desperately that life is not really like our writers portray it; in other words, we hope that writers are not representative men and women, but unfit beings whose perceptions are filtered through their unhealth. It is necessary to hope this, because if life were as it appears in our literature it would be unlivable.” Adam Kirsch explores the downside of literary nostalgia.
In 2002, the psychologist Daniel Kahneman, a Princeton professor and expert in judgement and decision-making, won the Nobel Prize in Economics for his research in behavioral studies. At the LARB, K.C. Cole ties his work to The Fate of Our Species, a new book by Fred Guterl.
“Eisenhower’s doctor, Howard McCrum Snyder, knew better than anyone that the commander in chief paid a heavy physical toll for the blandness he projected in public — and once had a presidential golf club thrown at him.” Janet Maslin reviews a new book on the “hidden” President.
A book a day keeps the doctor away. The Reach Out and Read Program hopes to give children (from 6 months to 5) as much exposure to books as vitamins when they got to the doctor’s office. Pediatricians who participate in the initiative discuss reading at every check-up by giving books to families, advising parents about the importance of reading to their kids, and monitoring how the children engage with books.
“I don’t know anymore where I begin and Obama ends.” Go and check out this fascinating profile of Ben Rhodes, the “Boy Wonder of the Obama Whitehouse,” who dropped out of his second year at NYU’s M.F.A. program after witnessing the attacks on September 11th to take up a life of international affairs and foreign policy. When asked about whom he would choose write the story of his work life, Rhodes picked novelist Don DeLillo: “He is the only person I can think of who has confronted these questions of, you know, the individual who finds himself negotiating both vast currents of history and a very specific kind of power dynamics. That’s his milieu. And that’s what it’s like to work in the U.S. foreign-policy apparatus in 2016.”