“Our culture claims to celebrate vigor and well-being, yet holds up steroid-addled men and impossibly thin women as models of physical perfection. Those of us unwilling to juice or starve ourselves are left feeling inadequate and confused about why we do not bear any resemblance to the humans we are meant to emulate.” Michael Ian Black reviews two books about the male physique — and reveals a bit about the unrealistic nature of our cultural expectations.
Out this week: The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis; A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Nonfiction by Terry Pratchett; Ballroom by Alice Simpson; Hello Mr. Bones & Goodbye Mr. Rat by Patrick McCabe; Rooms by Lauren Oliver; and How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran, who released an essay collection two years ago. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
“Motherhood has always been contested terrain, but for the last decade or so it’s been a virtual battleground; every year, almost like clockwork, we have another flare-up in the so-called Mommy Wars, with another Tiger Mom or Get-Back-To-Work-er or Can’t Have It all-er launching a grenade as prelude to a book tour. And as much as I have an obvious stake in these battles as a mother and a feminist, I’ve come to find them depressingly repetitive, all sound and fury but offering little in terms of the policies that might actually affect our decisions.” At the LARB, Stephanie Bower gives her take on Why Have Kids?, Jessica Valenti’s new treatise on parenting.
We tend to take it for granted that the world needs more translated works. The dictates of common wisdom state that reading translated works help us understand the reality of foreign cultures. But what if translation, which erases at least some nuance from works of literature, instead “sifts out the foreign or the unsettling in the name of easy consumption”? In The Irish Times, Michael Cronin reviews a recent book by NYU professor Emily Apter.
The art of book translation becomes even more challenging when you translate a book that hasn’t been updated since the Cold War. At Asymptote, Jacek Dehnel discusses how much changed from Ariadna Demkowska’s 1962 translation of The Great Gatsby to his current work. “Demkowska was working under very different circumstances: behind the Iron Curtain and without access to Google. It was, therefore, more difficult for her to track down various details, such as those concerning well-known financiers or popular culture starlets of the 1920s.”
Vanity Fair’s latest cover is proof that we live in an era in which men have the privilege of being just as objectified as women. Nominally a celebration of the 2010 World Cup that kicks off in South Africa in June, the magazine’s gay porn-ish cover features soccer superstars Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast and Portugal’s Christiano Ronaldo in nothing but their flags, photographed by Annie Leibovitz. Within (oh, my stars & stripes!) you can behold the U.S.’s Landon Donovan, as well as Brazil’s Kaká, Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon, England’s Carlton Cole, Germany’s Michael Ballack–all in their undies. Cheers to you, Vanity Fair: Your enterprising shamelessness truly knows no bounds.