SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
The strange thing about this is that at twenty I imagined I would spend my middle age reading books that I didn’t have the patience to read when I was young. But now, at forty-one, I don’t even have the patience to read the books I read when I was twenty. At that age I plowed through everything in the Arnoldian belief that each volume somehow nudged me imperceptibly closer to the sweetness and light. I read War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Ulysses, Moby-Dick. I got through The Idiot even though I hated practically every page of it. I didn’t read The Brothers Karamazov: I’ll leave it till I’m older, I thought—and now that I am older I wish I’d read it when I was younger, when I was still capable of doing so.
–“Reader’s Block,” Geoff Dyer, FSG Work In Progress
Then last August, the Vatican introduced a change in canon law that will apparently make it impossible for Catholics to defect. Flynn, O’Sullivan and Dunbar have thus suspended their service. But the Web site continues to be a clearinghouse for information on the church in Ireland and its abuses, and it has helped start a debate on Irish identity — on the possibility of separating the two parts of the term “Irish Catholic.”
Certainly many Irish people find the idea of abandoning Catholicism to be as counterintuitive as giving up their racial or sexual identity. A televised panel discussion on the abuse crisis last summer ended with a reporter asking a woman who was voicing her anger if she was ready to leave the Catholic Church. She paused, as if befuddled, then said, “Where would I go?” –“The Irish Affliction,” Russell Shorto, The New York Times
In Life! Camera Action, Reina, a student at New York Film Academy, has been disowned by her parents for defying their wishes that she do something befitting a respectable middle-class girl. “America is a free nation,” Reina counters, “and so am I!” Luckily, Reina has passion, which, according to her professor, is what matters most: “All successful people, in any industry, Bill Gates, Anil Kapoor—you know him, right? Played the host in Slumdog Millionaire. Or Danny Boyle, director, Slumdog Millionaire, very successful.” But since neither passion nor parents pay the bills, Reina has to work two jobs (Indian video store, Indian restaurant) and continues to do so even with the deadline for her unplanned thesis film a week off. Given such long odds, muses the professor, “Satyajit Ray is going to come out of his grave to help you, right?” (Unfortunately, Ray was cremated.) –“Far From Bollywood: The New Indian Cinema in Exile,” Rafil Kroll-Zaidi, The New York Observer
More from gabriel:
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”