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Archive: 2015

Too Good to Be True

Harriet says she will take Gayle to A.A. meetings. Lois offers to pay her extra for gas and time, but Harriet says no, being of service is essential to her…

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Letters

Harper’s v. Harper It is a tradition among Canadian pundits to travel abroad bearing tales — possibly because it is easier to convince a foreign audience that the current government, regardless…

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Pain Quotidien

From a list of approximately 70,000 diagnostic codes included in the International Classification of Diseases, Clinical Modification, which was adopted by U.S. health-care providers in October. Read More

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Free but Not Redeemed

Discussed in this essay: The Complete Works of Primo Levi, edited by Ann Goldstein. Liveright. 3,008 pages. $100. wwnorton.com. Primo Levi’s literary conquest of America has been slow, sketchy, almost…

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Shit Talkers

From an audio recording entered as evidence in a 2014 lawsuit filed by a man identified as D.B., who claims that he inadvertently recorded his colonoscopy on his cell phone.…

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We was All Bent, Son

Discussed in this essay: At the height of the Suez Crisis, in 1956, the headmaster of Eton College, Britain’s grandest public — meaning private — school, invited Lord John Hope, a Foreign…

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The Bed-Rest Hoax

After just a couple of days on bed rest, the material of your body begins to feel different: softer, heavier, a burden to the bone beneath. The thud of the…

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Naked Ambition

From a contract prepared by a casting agency for extras in the television show Westworld, which is scheduled to air on HBO next year. Read More

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Slender Mercies

For me, the epiphany came during Episode 404, broadcast on June 24 of last year. Here’s the setup. Bruce Pitcher, somewhere north of 350 pounds at the commencement of the…

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Findings

A jaguar named Salman was sent away from the Delhi zoo for being too fat to mate, and a former meerkat expert at the London Zoo was ordered to pay…

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Harper’s Index

Average age, in years, of the thirty most frequently played holiday songs : 61 Year when the youngest of these songs, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” was released : 1994…

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Power in Paris

Can the earth be saved by bureaucrats in long meetings, reciting jargon and acronyms while surrounded by leaning towers of documents? That is what’s supposed to happen in France this…

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Seminal Theories

From Of Beards and Men, by Christopher Oldstone-Moore, which will be published next month by the University of Chicago Press. Oldstone-Moore is a senior lecturer in history at Wright State…

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Invisible City

By Justin E. H. Smith, from a work in progress. Smith’s fourth book, The Philosopher: A History in Six Types (Princeton), will be published in June. At the end of August, the oldest…

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Getting to the End

For roughly a five-year stretch beginning in 1995, I worked in Atlantic City, New Jersey, as a dealer in several casino resorts. It wasn’t that dealing had been a career…

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Road to Nowhere

By László Krasznahorkai, from Destruction and Sorrow Beneath the Heavens, a travel memoir that will be published next month by Seagull Books. Krasznahorkai won the 2015 Man Booker International Prize.…

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Thanks, Obama

From entries made since 2009 to the U.S. Protocol Gift Unit Federal Register Report, which records items given by foreign dignitaries to federal employees. Read More

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New Books

In the harsh winter of 1895, Tolstoy wrote a story called “Master and Man,” which tells of a merchant named Brekhunov who, on a day that threatens a blizzard, orders…

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1/29/84 N.Y.C.

By Allen Ginsberg (1926–97), from Wait Till I’m Dead, a volume of his uncollected poems that will be published by Grove Atlantic in February. Read More

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Riding the Night

All the way, at odd times, far off, with neither sense nor sequence, the guns have sounded almost like the noises of peace — blasting or pile-driving. Now, outside the…

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Blast from the Past

“You would never have something of this scale in the United States,” says Kathryn Rosewitz, originally from Missouri but now living in Germany. “Like, it would not happen.” Kathryn and…

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The Counterparty

Early one morning in July, while hiking through the mountains of eastern Bosnia, I came upon a warehouse that was partially hidden by a clutch of beech trees. The long,…

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