Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Barbara Walters Steals the Show

This morning at about 5 AM, Benj asked, frantically, "Where's that article I was reading about Barbara Walters?" I mumbled, "Oh, that was awesome, best thing in the magazine."

But I was referring to the excerpt from her memoirs published in the June 2008 issue of Vanity Fair. Not the New Yorker piece he was in the middle of. Which I will definitely read. But about the Vanity Fair, which I left on the plane:

Walters is a great writer, the story is fascinating, and it includes lines like,

"Thank heaven for Alan Greenspan. We dated rather seriously for several years, and he really saw me through this agonizing time."

Her use of cliche evokes a distinct historical period and I love it. "That ship has sailed." Full excerpt here. The photos are also quite nice. Not the ones included online, of course, but the 2 page collage of action shots.

Miley who?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Puffins, Again

So I meant to say something long and involved about how Franzen's "The Way of the Puffin" (Journeys April 21, 2008) did this thing that I like: a kind of wide-eyed and wonderful naif says, "Oh, look. It's different here. There are no convenient spaces, near the cities, for me to birdwatch" and this draws our attention to the ideology that produces certain kinds of spaces, and cities, and citizens and, in fact, birdwatching. But apparently, the moral of the story (as gleaned from the audio interview) is that Chinese people are "the same as other people."

In light of recent natural disasters, we might be thinking of what it is that creates environments and we might be thinking that it might not be a good idea just to wait around for capitalism to run its course and individuals to get their consciousness raised and join the Sierra Club and make birdwatching more widely available, or what have you. The audio interview includes thoughts on "progress," "The Simpsons," "complicity" of various kinds and "potholes."

What about the tigers piece, in the same issue?

I've also recently read two pieces on churches - "Project Trinity" (Sanneh on Wright) and "The Bishop's Daughter" (Honor Moore on her father).

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dr. Livingstone, I presume?

In the jungles of postmodern irony, such is the encounter,

Jonathan Franzen writes, of his guide to developing China, David Xu, "He had the fashionably angular eyeglasses and ingratiating eagerness of an untenured literature professor . . ." (92) Hullo.

I'll post a bit more on "The Way of the Puffin" later, as I did not hate it. At least, that is to say . . .