Year in Reading contributor Kevin Smokler’s new essay collection, Practical Classics, explores the benefits of revisiting the first books you read (even if you hated them). In fact, the difficult and excruciating books have a particular value. “Books aren’t all supposed to be our best friends,” says Smokler in a new Rumpus interview. “Sometimes they’re supposed to be that difficult friend who encourages us to do things that we don’t feel are rational or grown-up.”
Hitchens looks back at the Rushdie fatwa and its legacy of censorship.The Feltron 2008 Annual Report"The Governor and the Glove" - an encounter with BlagojovichJoseph O'Neill remembers Updike (via TEV)Ted Leo performs Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark."The Paleolithic era of online news.TNR reviews Outliers: "It is an axiom of Malcolm Gladwell's method that a perfect anecdote proves a fatuous rule."
“During various periods of my life I have succumbed to the siren call of sleeping pills. It is hard to resist their promise: one tablet, and your night will be purged. Your brain may be in overdrive, its receptors working away, hungrily awaiting more images and information, but like a computer it is forced into another mode. Yet the little white disks with a dent down the middle are no panacea; whenever I take one of these thought guillotines I feel trapped in a grey zone, seesawing between mid and shallow slumber, mind and body dulled but not of their own accord.” A lifelong insomniac recounts her long struggle with the illness.
For San Francisco readers: There's a new show of huge, surreal paper mache animal sculptures up at The Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (December 4-17th). These paper beasts, featured in the San Francisco Symphony's performance of Camille Saint-Saens "Carnival of the Animals" and created by local artist Colette Crutcher and her students, will be auctioned off to benefit the MCCLA at a party open to the public on December 17th.