N1BR: Issue 11

October 2011

We asked our editors what they’ve been reading lately, and almost all of us have been reading for Occupy Wall Street. We recommend Corey Robin’s Reactionary Mind, the first edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves, and Keynes’s General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money. We also suggest skipping your graduate school qualifying exams and traveling light. More…

Born in Rehevot in 1944, Milchan is an eleventh-generation Israeli. Yasser Arafat reportedly told him, “You’re more Palestinian than me.” His “ancestors on one side can be traced back to the great medieval biblical commentator Rashi, and on the other side almost to King David.” This of course would make Milchan “almost” related to Jesus, which would make him—“almost”—related to God. More…

New York makes so much noise about itself, discusses itself so endlessly on its streets and in its bars, lends its name so freely to magazines and websites and newspapers, that the novelist foolhardy enough to engage with this nonstop tantrum of a place has little choice but to turn himself or herself into a noise-comprehender or a noise-amplifier. I wasn’t aware that a third path exists until I read Teju Cole’s Open City. More…

He lambasted an essay’s “methane” and praised another for its “sheer sphincter-shattering beauty.” Writing a short essay to render something you loved endlessly was “trying to blow a watermelon through a straw.” Most writing was “written half-asleep and read half-asleep,” whereas he was immaculately alive, which made you terribly eager to show that you were all there as well. More…

The Alcove One boys had little to do with what neoconservatism ultimately became. More importantly, the “conversion” narrative—in which erstwhile leftists or liberals saw the light after being, in Kristol’s infamous phrase, “mugged by reality”—mischaracterizes the neocons’ intellectual development, which was hawkishly anti-communist almost from the very beginning. More…

“Books aren’t about ‘real life,’” a minor character says early on in Jeffrey Eugenides’s new novel. “Books are about other books.” In a clever literalization, The Marriage Plot is very much about other books. Eugenides announces this on the first page, in an inventory of Madeleine’s bookshelf, and as the novel progresses and the books mentioned or quoted or discussed pile up, the book’s bookishness is only confirmed. More…

The novels Schryer selects chart the fleeting period when “social trustee professionals”—“professionals who combine specialized expertise with a commitment to public service”—were not only the principal purveyors but also the major subject of American fiction. The postwar period saw a glut of novels about professors and their ilk, the students and writers floating about their periphery. More…

Image: The People's Library at Occupy Wall Street, New York, October 7, 2011. From George Marinich.