Burning With Suspense


13bookhesse1-facebookjumbo

Review of American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Landby Monica Hesse

Alfred Hitchcock would have appreciated Monica Hesse’s new book, American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land. It is the true story of a series of arson fires in Accomack County, on Virginia’s mostly rural Eastern Shore, which Hesse initially covered as a reporter for the Washington Post. Wasting no time, she gives away the ending on the first page of the Preface – in fact, on the inside jacket. So we know from the outset that Charlie Smith pled guilty to setting sixty-seven fires, all in abandoned buildings, and that he confessed to the crimes shortly after he was apprehended. The book is highly suspenseful, however, because we still need to find out just how Charlie was finally caught in a remarkable spree that extended over five months and, more importantly, why he did it.

The complete article

Steven Lubet — The New Rambler

Image source

The School of Life — Why so Many People Want to Be Writers


hqdefault

A question I too have had.

The longing one day to turn out a book — probably a novel or, less likely, an autobiography lies close to the center of contemporary aspirations. This is, at one level, a hugely welcome development, a consequene of widespread literacy, higher educational standards and a proper focus on the power of books to change lives.

But looked at from another angle, it may also, in private, be the result of something rather more desultory: an epidemic of isolation and loneliness.

The army of literary agents, scouts, editors and writing coaches testifies not only to our love of literature, but also, less intentionally, to an unaddressed groundswell of painful solitude.

The complete article

William Cho — Student Voices

Image source

How Christians Destroyed the Ancient World


the-darkening-age

A book review of – THE DARKENING AGE The Christian Destruction of the Classical World By Catherine Nixey

Actions were extreme because paganism was considered not just a psychological but a physical miasma. Christianity appeared on a planet that had been, for at least 70,000 years, animist. (Asking the women and men of antiquity whether they believed in spirits, nymphs, djinns would have been as odd as asking them whether they believed in the sea.) But for Christians, the food that pagans produced, the bathwater they washed in, their very breaths were thought to be infected by demons. Pollution was said to make its way into the lungs of bystanders during animal sacrifice. And once Christianity became championed by Rome, one of the most militaristic civilizations the world has known, philosophical discussions on the nature of good and evil became martial instructions for purges and pugilism.

The complete article

Bettany Hughes — The New York Times

Image source

Philip Roth and the Roots of American Rage


220px-philip_roth_-_1973

RIP Philip Roth.

Roth, who died Tuesday at age 85, never had children. Yet he wrote perceptively and with great empathy for Seymour “the Swede” Levov, the novel’s protagonist, whose love for his daughter, Merry, knows no bounds and is utterly unrequited. Handsome, affable, responsible, and wealthy, the Swede does everything right by the standards of the midcentury American bourgeoisie. He manages a successful enterprise, procures a trophy wife, owns a tasteful estate in the Jersey suburbs, and fathers a girl who brings ruin to it all. There is a rage within Merry, which, as she grows older, explodes (quite literally) in political radicalism before she smothers her inner flames under Far-Eastern asceticism.

The complete article

Sohrab Ahmari — Commentary

Image source

The Reporter Who Took Down a Unicorn


dcdyasmx0aenyiw

Another Theranos story.

That first Carreyrou story reported that Theranos’s blood-testing machine had significant accuracy issues and had been used for only 15 out of a claimed 240 tests. Subsequent stories revealed that the machines never really worked, would often malfunction, and could lead to inaccurate diagnoses. Today, the investors are gone; Holmes and the former president and chief operating officer of Theranos, Sunny Balwani, who was also her secret boyfriend at the time, are both facing federal criminal investigations, and they have been charged by the SEC with running an “elaborate, years-long fraud.”

The story of Theranos may be the biggest case of corporate fraud since Enron. But it’s also the story of how a lot of powerful men were fooled by a remarkably brazen liar. It took just one reporter, and three former Theranos employees, to expose her.

The complete article

Yashar Ali — NY Mag

Image source

Best Investment Books for Beginners recommended by John Kay


220px-book_cover_random_walk

John Kay is a person with very clear views. His recommendations definitely carry weight.

Let’s get into the books you’ve chosen. As it’s the one you’ve traditionally recommended, let’s start with Burton Malkiel’s A Random Walk Down Wall Street (1973).

Yes, that’s the book I recommend when asked by people who are highly intelligent, have a little bit of money, but feel at sea. I’m not very impressed by financial advisers—for pretty good reasons. But there is very little you can read on investment that’s not insulting to the intelligence. As you know, there are lots of ‘how to become rich by day trading’ books around, but intelligent people know what to do with those kinds of books: namely not to open them.

The complete interview

John Kay — Five Books

Image source

The rise of the pointless job


bullshit-jobs-9781501143311_lg

It is like digging the trenches and filling them back. Maybe even worse.

The defining feature is this: one so completely pointless that even the person who has to perform it every day cannot convince themselves there’s a good reason for them to be doing it. They may not be able to admit this to their co-workers – often, there are very good reasons not to do so – but they are convinced the job is pointless nonetheless.

Bullshit jobs are not just jobs that are useless; typically, there has to be some degree of pretence and fraud involved as well. The employee must feel obliged to pretend that there is, in fact, a good reason their job exists, even if, privately, they find such claims ridiculous.

The complete article

David Graeber — The Guardian

Image source