jerryking + writers   111

Opinion | I Was Wandering. Toni Morrison Found Me.
Aug. 9, 2019 | The New York Times | By Jesmyn Ward.
Ms. Ward is the author, most recently, of the novel “Sing, Unburied, Sing.”
African-Americans  authors  books  fiction  obituaries  Toni_Morrison  tributes  women  writers 
7 weeks ago by jerryking
Toni Morrison Taught Me How to Think
Aug. 7, 2019 | The New York Times | By Wesley Morris.

You need to be able to read to be able to read. Especially if Toni Morrison did the writing. [because Toni Morrison's writings demanded much of the reader as her evocative words painted a rich context and vivid imagery.......She was going to make us [you, the reader] work, not as a task, not for medicine, but because writing is an art and a reader should have a little art of his own.....Reading a Toni Morrison novel was group therapy. My aunts, my mother and her friends would tackle “Beloved” in sections then get on the phone to run things by one another......They admired the stew of a Morrison novel, the elegant density of its language — the tapestry of a hundred-word sentence, the finger snap of a lone word followed by a period, the staggering depictions of lust, death, hair care, lost limbs, baking and ghosts. Morrison made her audiences conversant in her — the metaphors of trauma, the melodramas of psychology. She made them hungry for more stew: ornate, disobedient, eerie literary inventions about black women, often with nary a white person of any significance in sight. The women in my family were reading a black woman imagining black women, their wants, their warts, how the omnipresence of this country’s history can make itself known on any old Thursday.....A life spent savoring Toni Morrison, both as a novelist and a scalding, scaldingly moral literary critic, makes clear that almost no one has better opening sentences......This is all to say that Toni Morrison didn’t teach me how to read. But she did teach me how to read. Hers is the kind of writing that makes you rewind and slow down and ruminate. It’s the kind of writing that makes you rewind because, god, what you just read was that titanic, that perception-altering, that true, a spice on the tongue. .......Morrison is dead now, her legend long secure. But what comedy to think how the writers and critics who loved her labored to get her mastery treated as majesty when she’s so evidently supreme. .....She did for generations of writers what Martin Scorsese did for generations of filmmakers — jolt them, for better and worse, into purpose. Morrison didn’t make me a writer, exactly. What she made me was a thinker. She made the thinking seem uniquely crucial to the matter of being alive......I have now by my bed is some novel by Toni Morrison, whether or not I’m reading it. A night light for my soul. And, in every way, a Good Book.
African-Americans  authors  books  craftsmanship  critical_thinking  howto  novelists  novels  obituaries  purpose  reading  Slow_Movement  soul-enriching  Toni_Morrison  tributes  women  writers  writing 
9 weeks ago by jerryking
Michael Lewis Makes Boring Stuff Interesting - WSJ
May 17, 2019 | THE WALL STREET JOURNAL | By Richard Turner.

The writer’s new podcast ‘Against the Rules’ asks what has happened to fairness in the U.S.......Michael Lewis doesn’t really need this gig. His new podcast, “Against the Rules,” doesn’t pay anything close to his book-writing day job. It’s unlikely to turn into a movie. Plus, the podcast’s subject is pretty abstract: Who are the referees in our society? Who determines what is fair and even what is true? Is our whole system rigged from stem to stern, as everyone from President Donald Trump to sports fans to the Black Lives Matter movement insists?.....The idea ...is to examine “what’s happened to fairness” in an age when America’s arbiters are no longer trusted. The Walter Cronkites of the world are gone, and those assigned to make the tough calls are reviled, threatened and assumed (sometimes correctly) to be corrupt.....“It’s a big problem for democracy if people don’t have a shared reality,” Mr. Lewis says. “It’s difficult to establish a referee in an increasingly unequal environment” like today’s U.S., “when there are powerful parties and not-so powerful ones. .......Mr. Lewis’s skills turn out to be well-suited to the podcast medium. His calling card, echoed by untold critics and readers, is this: He makes boring stuff interesting. He collects disparate ingredients, whips them up with character and narrative, and distills human stories into engrossing big-picture explainers........Lewis keeps seeing failures of refereeing. “There was no referee at the interface between Wall Street and the consumers—consumer finance. I saw the birth of that, when Wall Street hit segments of society it had never touched, through subprime mortgages, for car loans, through asset-backed securities. There was no one saying, ‘That’s fair and that’s not.’”.......Among his topics: correct English usage, judges, used cars, identity theft, credit-card companies, student-loan abuses, Cambridge Analytica, King Solomon and the famed mediator Kenneth Feinberg, who handled victim compensation for 9/11 families and those affected by the 2010 BP oil spill. Listeners can imagine myriad future topics related to fairness: expanding the Supreme Court, machines calling balls and strikes, cable-news coverage of the Trump presidency and so on.
boring  consumer_finance  credit-ratings  democracy  failure  fairness  gaming_the_system  Michael_Lewis  NBA  podcasting  podcasts  refereeing  rules_of_the_game  shared_experiences  unglamorous  Wall_Street  writers 
may 2019 by jerryking
An Obituary Writer Writes One for Himself
April 19, 2019 | WSJ | By James R. Hagerty.

I don’t want what many people seem to consider the standard form for obituaries: A list of names, dates and achievements interspersed with quotes about my nobility, generosity and devotion to family. There will be no speculation about whether I have gone on to an eternal reward.

Instead, I will attempt to answer the three things I try to convey when writing someone else’s obituary: What was he trying to do? Why? And how did it work out?.......Once you resolve to write your own obit, how do you get the job done? My advice is to set aside 15 to 30 minutes once or twice a week until you finish. Don’t fuss about literary flourishes. Just write the story simply, in your own voice. As for structure, I’m going with chronological order. It may not show much imagination, but it provides a clear path for the writer and the reader.
howto  obituaries  retrospectives  writers 
april 2019 by jerryking
James Baldwin: why Beale Street still talks
JANUARY 31, 2019 | Financial Times | by Diana Evans.

The writer’s work remains hugely relevant, particularly in today’s charged racial atmosphere.......James Baldwin never goes out of fashion. This might seem an enviable attribute for a writer to sustain posthumously, if it were not for a predominant reason why. He is a soldier, a comrade. He is a brother-in-arms in a war that doesn’t end. Along with Toni Morrison, Angela Davis, Richard Wright, Nina Simone, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou and many others, Baldwin is among those foremost in an army of artists and activists who have challenged, fought and assuaged racism and become icons of “black struggle”. As the struggle continues and does not appear to be concluding any time soon, Baldwin’s work is as relevant and prevailing as ever.

The latest landmark in the mounting homage and salutation to Baldwin’s writing is Oscar-winning Barry Jenkins’s adaptation of his penultimate novel If Beale Street Could Talk. Set in Harlem in the 1970s, it’s a mournful, limpid, at times excruciating portrayal of an engaged young couple, Fonny and Tish (played by Stephan James and KiKi Layne), who are separated by Fonny’s sudden incarceration after being falsely accused of rape, leaving Tish to weather pregnancy alone. The film successfully mirrors the book’s oscillating, dreamy atmosphere, capturing the childlike innocence of Tish’s love-soaked narrative voice which accentuates the cruelty of the world around them. She asks, late in the novel, Fonny still hopelessly imprisoned and childbirth close, “What happened here? Surely, this land is cursed.”......No one else articulates with quite the same inexhaustible clarity the outrage, hardship, and fury of existing on the receiving end of race, the sense of being endangered, at best truncated, both physically and spiritually, on a most fundamental level........Born in New York in 1924, Baldwin grew up in poverty in Harlem, the eldest of nine children, and was a gifted Pentecostal preacher prior to being a writer, though he eventually left the church, deeming it a reinforcement of institutionalised modes of oppression. A novelist, essayist, playwright and short-story writer, during his lifetime he became a kind of literary spokesman for the civil rights movement, appearing on the cover of Time magazine in 1963 and forming friendships with Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Medgar Evers, all of whom were assassinated, which he was trying to address in his unfinished manuscript “Remember This House”, the basis for I Am Not Your Negro.
African-Americans  blackness  films  movies  James_Baldwin  Toni_Morrison  writers 
february 2019 by jerryking
Where is San Francisco’s Bonfire of the Vanities?
December 21, 2108 | | Financial Times | by Janan Ganesh.

Victor Hugo’s Paris. Tom Wolfe’s New York. Charles Dickens’s London. Whose San Francisco? Even a brief visit confirms its resemblance to these other cities at their most feverishly written-about. It has the same street-level squalor, the same inventive genius, the same jittery, barricaded rich.....Careering down the Bay Bridge in an Uber (founded in San Francisco), I gawp at the superior physical setting. The raw materials for a classic, a Les Misérables of the Tenderloin, are all here. And yet 18 years into a century that it has shaped, and almost 50 since the journalistic coinage of “Silicon Valley”, this place remains near-absent from literature. What fiction there is about modern San Francisco, including the first novel published on Medium, by former Google executive Jessica Powell, tends not to detain the Nobel committee.....The biggest story in American commerce and, when you think of tech’s displacing effects, in American society too, has been left to journalists and the occasional biopic to tell. The result is a story half-told. We have the numbers but not the anthropological nuance. Imagine trying to understand 1980s New York with stock indices and crime data, but without Bonfire of the Vanities. Except, an east-coast powerhouse would never suffer a literary snub. That a western one does suggests more about the writers, perhaps, than about the subject.....Seven of America’s 10 biggest cities are now west of the Mississippi River. .....Where San Francisco blends into the low-rise Anyplace of Santa Clara, you can see their point. But the city itself, with its layers of desperation and opulence, is Dickensian. It just lacks a Dickens, or even a lesser chronicler.....A planet-moulding capital of technology deserves its due, too. The stories are there, if writers can accept the western drift of their nation’s energies.
Bonfire_of_the_Vanities  fiction  Janan_Ganesh  literature  San_Francisco  Silicon_Valley  Tom_Wolfe  writers 
december 2018 by jerryking
Black Male Writers for Our Time - The New York Times
...... A surge of mainstream attention to blackness and its literature isn’t unprecedented in periods of American crisis. The first strains of the Harlem Renaissance began at the tail end of World War I and gained momentum in the 1920s, as the racial makeup of American cities metamorphosed through the Great Migration. The Harlem of the 1930s became home to a concentration of black writers whose work piqued white interest. In the 1960s and ’70s, the Black Arts Movement erupted during the turbulent years of America’s freedom protests. Black voices received heightened attention then, too......
African-Americans  books  James_Baldwin  literature  men  male  writers 
december 2018 by jerryking
Why boring government matters
November 1, 2018 | | Financial Times | Brooke Masters.

The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy, by Michael Lewis, Allen Lane, RRP£20, 219 pages.

John MacWilliams is a former Goldman Sachs investment banker who becomes the risk manager for the department of energy. He regales Lewis with a horrific catalogue of all the things that can go wrong if a government takes its eye off the ball, and provides the book with its title. Asked to name the five things that worry him the most, he lists the usual risks that one would expect — accidents, the North Koreans, Iran — but adds that the “fifth risk” is “project management”.

Lewis explains that “this is the risk society runs when it falls into the habit of responding to long-term risks with short-term solutions.” In other words, America will suffer if it stops caring about the unsung but vital programmes that decontaminate billions of tonnes of nuclear waste, fund basic scientific research and gather weather data.

That trap, he makes clear with instance after instance of the Trump administration failing to heed or even meet with his heroic bureaucrats, is what America is falling into now.

We should all be frightened.
books  book_reviews  boring  bureaucracy  bureaucrats  cynicism  government  Michael_Lewis  public_servants  risks  technocrats  unglamorous  writers  short-term_thinking  competence  sovereign-risk  civics  risk-management 
november 2018 by jerryking
Philip Roth: a titan of American letters
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Jan Dalley, Arts Editor
Philip_Roth  obituaries  writers  authors  best_of 
may 2018 by jerryking
Tom Wolfe, journalism’s great anti-elitist
Janan Ganesh MAY 18, 2018

Wolfe was the first anti-elitist in the modern style. Or at least, the first of real stature.

He exposed the credulity of the rich for artistic fads. He made fun of their recreational left-wingery,... their “radical chic”. Among the vanities that went into his bonfire was the idea of America as classless. At the risk of tainting him with politics, there was something Trumpian about his ability to define himself against Manhattan’s grandest burghers while living among them.

If all Wolfe did was lampoon the urban rich, it would have made for a sour body of work. But he did the inverse, too. He heroised the other kind of American: physical, duty-doing, heartland-based. His only uncynical book is his best. The Right Stuff, an extended prose poem to fighter pilots and astronauts, has all the velocity of its subject, even as it pauses to linger over these men, with their utilitarian hair cuts, their blend of arrogance and asceticism......Wolfe’s great coup was to sense before anyone else that counter-culture was becoming the culture. Its capture of universities, media and the arts amounted to a new establishment that deserved as much irreverent scrutiny as the old kind.....Before South Park, before Bill Burr, before PJ O’Rourke, there was Wolfe, more or less alone in his testing of liberal certainties, and happy to bear a certain amount of ostracism for it. .....But it says something of his importance that he changed fiction and non-fiction and yet neither achievement ranks as his highest. It is his prescience about elites, and the inevitability of a reaction against them, that defines his reputation.

One test of a writer’s influence is how often people quote them unknowingly. .....Wolfe scores better than anyone of his generation, what with “good ol’ boy” and the “right stuff” and “Mau-Mauing”. What sets him apart, though, is that millions also unknowingly think his thoughts. When? Whenever they resent the cloistered rich. Whenever they fear for free speech in a hyper-sensitive culture.

The mutation of these thoughts into a brute populism in western democracies cannot be pinned on Wolfe, who was civility incarnate. Like a good reporter, he wrote what he saw and left it to the world to interpret. What he saw were people who had wealth, refinement and so much of the wrong stuff.
anti-elitist  counter_culture  Janan_Ganesh  journalists  legacies  obituaries  Tom_Wolfe  tributes  writers  enfant_terrible  New_York_City  novels  social_classes  the_One_Percent  elitism  worldviews 
may 2018 by jerryking
Sir Wilson Harris obituary | Books
Fri 9 Mar 2018 | The Guardian | Michael Mitchell

16.13 GMT Last modified on Sun 11 Mar 2018 11.28 GMT
obituaries  Guyanese  Guyana  Afro-Guyanese  writers  authors  Wilson_Harris 
march 2018 by jerryking
Lerone Bennett Jr., Historian of Black America, Dies at 89 - The New York Times
By NEIL GENZLINGERFEB. 16, 2018

Lerone Bennett Jr., a historian and journalist who wrote extensively on race relations and black history and was a top editor at Ebony magazine for decades, died on Wednesday in Chicago. He was 89......His best-known book was “Before the Mayflower,” drawn from a series of articles for Ebony and first published in 1962..... “Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream.” “What Manner of Man: A Biography of Martin Luther King Jr.” (1964), “Black Power U.S.A.: The Human Side of Reconstruction, 1867-1877” (1967) and “The Shaping of Black America” (1975)..... Mr. Bennett talked about a three-part approach to affecting change.

“Every black person is obligated,” he said, “to try to do what he does as well as any person who ever lived can do it, or any person who ever lives can do it; then, to try to save one — just one — person if you can. And then to struggle to destroy a system which is multiplying black victims faster than all the black intellectuals and the black leaders in America can talk about. I see those three things connected.”
African-Americans  historians  obituaries  Ebony  magazines  journalists  books  writers  think_threes  Black_Power 
february 2018 by jerryking
Open books, open borders
OCTOBER 20, 2017 | FT| Janan Ganesh.

The globalised Booker also confirms this medium-sized country’s knack for cultural decorations — degrees from its universities, air time on the BBC — that are coveted worldwide. The unfakeable emotion from Saunders and Beatty upon receipt of the prize was a larger compliment to Britain and its soft power than a Booker for one of its own would have been.....There is a strategic imperative to open up that goes beyond the aesthetic one. As the gap narrows between the superpower and the rest, it becomes more important for America to understand the outside world. Better foreign news coverage can help, but mere politics is downstream of culture. The real prize is to comprehend another country’s thought patterns, speech rhythms, historic ghosts and unconscious biases — and these seep out from the stories it tells and the way it tells them....Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker cites the spread of literacy as a reason for the long-term decline of human violence. To read another person’s story is to end up with a larger “circle of sympathy”. But even if America’s concern is the narrowest raison d’état, rather than world peace, it would profit from reading beyond its borders.

The minimum return is that more American readers would have more fun. The headiest writing tends to come from places that are ascendant enough to matter but raw enough to retain some measure of dramatic chaos: 19th-century Britain and Russia, mid-20th-century America, and now, perhaps, early 21st-century Asia. It is not just in economics that protectionism stifles.
books  cosmopolitan  cross-cultural  cultural_products  empathy  fiction  George_Saunders  Janan_Ganesh  literature  Man_Booker  middle-powers  national_identity  novels  open_borders  open_mind  parochialism  prizes  protectionism  reading  soft_power  storytelling  United_Kingdom  writers 
november 2017 by jerryking
The two faces of the 1 per cent
August 19, 2017 | Financial Times | Janan Ganesh.

On top of its book sales, film adaptation and third life as an opera, The Bonfire of the Vanities achieved a rare feat. It turned its author into a 56-year-old enfant terrible. Thirty years have passed since Tom Wolfe’s first novel imagined New York City as an opulent failed state, where millionaires are one wrong turn from barbarian mobs and race card-players on the make.
....Bonfire can be read as a book about two different kinds of elite. You might characterise them as the moneyed and the cultured. Or as private enterprise and public life.....there is a real split among urbanites, who are too often grouped together. It is one that has been lost in the negative obsession with the elite in recent years. Think of it as the difference between the two LSEs — the London Stock Exchange and the London School of Economics — or the stereotypical FT reader and the stereotypical FT writer.

When populists attack elites, they conflate people who work in the media, the arts, politics, academia and some areas of the law with entrepreneurs, investment bankers and internationally mobile corporate professionals. The Brexit campaign defined itself against high finance but also against human rights QCs and know-it-all actors — as if these fields were one.

I commit this elision in my own columns and I should know better. By dint of my job, I meet people in each world (plus a few supple characters who bestride both) and they are different. The public elite tend to the liberal left. The private elite are apolitical swing voters. Each side has little idea what the other lot does all day. They have different tastes, different idioms and they dominate different parts of their cities.

Even in London, a New York-Los Angeles-Washington hybrid in its centralisation of the public and the private, the two clans rub against each other (at the opera, at Arsenal’s stadium) without blending into one. Until Brexit put them on the same side, the cultural elite often viewed the moneyed as the enemy — mauling the skyline, pricing them out of Hampstead. Above all, each group has its own insecurity. The public elite nurse constant material worries. Despite their membership of the economic 1 per cent (something they will deny even as you show them the graphs) they fear for their foothold in expensive cities......The private elite worry that they are not very interesting. I have seen tycoons cringe in the presence of niche-interest authors. Some attempt late-career entries into public life, often through the publication of a political treatise or some involvement in the arts. Executives follow “thought leaders” who are less intelligent than they are. Politicians know the type: the loaded donor who fears to leave a campaign meeting in case a couple of young advisers, who do not earn a six-figure salary between them, mock his unoriginal contribution.

Other differences are surprising. The public elite talk a wonderful game about diversity and work in fields that have a better balance of women and men. But the private elite tend to work among more races and nationalities: some trading floors look like 1980s Benetton commercials. The same seems true of social background. I would advise a young graduate without relatives in high places to choose corporate life over the media....Creativity is more precious than wealth. There is a reason why the most fashionable members’ clubs admit freelance graphic designers, who live hand-to-mouth, and black ball superstar bankers. In a sense, Fallow’s total victory over McCoy is classic Wolfe: it lacks the nuance of great art, but it gets at a truth.
Bonfire_of_the_Vanities  Tom_Wolfe  fiction  writers  enfant_terrible  New_York_City  novels  the_One_Percent  elitism  Janan_Ganesh  insecurities  hand-to-mouth  LSE  superstars 
august 2017 by jerryking
When Jack Daniel’s Failed to Honor a Slave, an Author Rewrote History - The New York Times
By CLAY RISEN AUG. 15, 2017

“It’s absolutely critical that the story of Nearest gets added to the Jack Daniel story,” Mark I. McCallum, the president of Jack Daniel’s Brands at Brown-Forman, said in an interview.

The company’s decision to recognize its debt to a slave, first reported last year by The New York Times, is a momentous turn in the history of Southern foodways. Even as black innovators in Southern cooking and agriculture are beginning to get their due, the tale of American whiskey is still told as a whites-only affair, about Scots-Irish settlers who brought Old World distilling knowledge to the frontier states of Tennessee and Kentucky.

Green’s story changes all that by showing how enslaved people likely provided the brains as well as the brawn in what was an arduous, dangerous and highly technical operation......Mr. May said that so far, visitor response to the new tours spotlighting Green’s contribution has been positive. It’s not hard to see why: At a rough time for race relations in America, the relationship between Daniel and Green allows Brown-Forman to tell a positive story, while also pioneering an overdue conversation about the unacknowledged role that black people, as slaves and later as free men, played in the evolution of American whiskey.
African-Americans  authors  distilleries  history  liquor  origin_story  slavery  storytelling  whiskey  writers 
august 2017 by jerryking
Inside the World of Brad Thor
JULY 20, 2017 | The New York Times | By NICHOLAS KULISH.

The thriller writer Brad Thor, a regular guest, brandished a copy of his own latest volume, “Use of Force.”.....according to his publisher Mr. Thor has sold nearly 15 million copies of his books worldwide. That would be an absolutely extraordinary number in literary circles. In the world of mysteries, suspense novels and thrillers it means he still has a bit of work ahead of him to make that leap to the level of ubiquity and universal name recognition (and yes, Thor is his real name) of a Dan Brown or John Grisham......Ryan Steck, who runs the website The Real Book Spy, said that Mr. Thor’s fans are particularly passionate.
profile  fiction  espionage  security_&_intelligence  writers  novels  books  Brad_Thor 
july 2017 by jerryking
Spencer Johnson, ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’ Author, Dies at 78 - The New York Times
“Who Moved My Cheese?,” which was published in 1998, was the story — in 94 pages of large type — of two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two tiny people, Hem and Haw, looking for cheese in a maze. When the cheese supply runs out at Cheese Station C, the mice leave without angst to find more.

But Hem and Haw resist, refusing to accept change. Haw overcomes his anxiety and ventures out of his comfort zone — at first timidly, but then, gradually, with more confidence — in search of a new supply of cheese.

“Before long, he knew why he felt good,” Mr. Johnson wrote about Haw. “He stopped to write again on the wall: ‘When you stop being afraid, you feel good!’”
obituaries  '90s  metaphors  writers  authors  management_consulting 
july 2017 by jerryking
Summer reads: Globe writers on the book that changed them - The Globe and Mail
STAFF
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
LAST UPDATED: THURSDAY, JUN. 29, 2017

Eric Reguly - Joseph Heller’s Catch-22
Liz Renzetti - Katherena Vermette’s debut novel, The Break.
Joyita Sengupta - Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake.
Eleanor Davidson - Roald Dahl's Going Solo.
Ian Brown - Nicholson Baker’s U and I: A True Story changed the way I thought about books, writers, writing, reading and what it meant to be honest on the page.
Victor Dwyer - Charlotte Gill's Eating Dirt: Deep Forests, Big Timber, and Life with the Tree-Planting Tribe.
Rosa Saba - Markus Zusak's I Am the Messenger tells the tale of a young man in a stagnant existence whose life is changed by a series of mysterious missions, in which he finds himself helping strangers and eventually helping himself. [You can’t wait for something to happen to you and give your existence meaning. You are the one who will make your life worthwhile.]
books  fiction  Eric_Reguly  Ian_Brown  life-changing  reading  summertime  transformational  writers 
june 2017 by jerryking
Acclaimed Canadian historian, author Michael Bliss dies at 76 - The Globe and Mail
TORONTO — The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, May 18, 2017

Bliss authored 14 books on business, politics, and medicine, was an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and a member of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.

When Bliss was inducted into the Medical Hall of Fame in 2016, Canadian Museum of History president Mark O’Neill called him “one of Canada’s leading intellectuals and historians.”

“Michael Bliss brings a wealth of knowledge to Canada and the world,” O’Neill said.
Canadian  historians  authors  writers  obituaries  uToronto  Michael_Bliss 
may 2017 by jerryking
Review: ‘Winter is Coming’, by Garry Kasparov
NOVEMBER 8, 2015 | FT | Review by John Thornhill

‘Winter is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must be Stopped’, by Garry Kasparov, Atlantic Books, £16.99; Public Affairs, $26.99

"The price of deterrence always goes up"

the real power of Kasparov’s book lies in his argument that the west must pursue a more assertive and moral foreign policy, something that has faded out of fashion. In his view, the most moral foreign policy is also the most effective. It enhances international security by insisting on observance of law....one of the most important aspects of any moral foreign policy is its consistency. Western leaders should keep talking about human rights issues in good times as well as bad. Otherwise, these issues become just another chip on the “geopolitical gaming table”. Those leaders should also insist on raising these subjects with strong autocracies, such as China, as well as the weak.

in Kasparov’s view, US President Bill Clinton squandered the chance to advance the international human rights agenda in the 1990s, as the west took a holiday from history. And today the west is too “uninformed, callous, or apathetic” to assert its influence and values.

He, rightly, argues that one of the most important aspects of any moral foreign policy is its consistency. Western leaders should keep talking about human rights issues in good times as well as bad. Otherwise, these issues become just another chip on the “geopolitical gaming table”. Those leaders should also insist on raising these subjects with strong autocracies, such as China, as well as the weak.
books  Russia  Vladimir_Putin  book_reviews  authors  writers  dictators  dictatorships  deterrence  dissension  Ukraine  human_rights  strategic_thinking  autocracies  chess  authoritarianism  foreign_policy  geopolitics  liberal_pluralism  rogue_actors  Garry_Kasparov  consistency  exile 
january 2017 by jerryking
From Michael Lewis, a Portrait of the Men Who Shaped ‘Moneyball’ - The New York Times
By ALEXANDRA ALTERDEC. 3, 2016
Lewis decided to explore how it started.

The inquiry led him to the work of two Israeli psychologists, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, whose discoveries challenged long-held beliefs about human nature and the way the mind works.

Mr. Lewis chronicles their unusual partnership in his new book, “The Undoing Project,” a story about two unconventional thinkers who saw the world differently from everyone around them. Their peculiar area of research — how humans make decisions, often irrationally — has had profound implications for an array of fields, like professional sports, the military, medicine, politics, finance and public health.....Tversky and Kahneman's research demonstrating how people behave in fundamentally irrational ways when making decisions, relying on their gut rather than available data, gave rise to the field of behavioral economics. That discipline attracted Paul DePodesta, a Harvard student, who later went into sports management and helped upend professional baseball when he went to work for Mr. Beane.....Unlike many nonfiction writers, Mr. Lewis declines to take advances, which he calls “corrupting,” even though he could easily earn seven figures. Instead, he splits the profits from the books, as well as the advertising and production costs, with Norton. The setup spurs him to work harder and to make more money if the books are successful, he says.

“You should have the risk and you should enjoy the reward,” he said. “It’s not healthy for an author not to have the risk.”
Amos_Tversky  Michael_Lewis  Moneyball  books  book_reviews  unconventional_thinking  biases  cognitive_skills  unknowns  information_gaps  humility  pretense_of_knowledge  overconfidence  conventional_wisdom  overestimation  metacognition  behavioural_economics  irrationality  decision_making  nonfiction  writers  self-awareness  self-analysis  self-reflective  proclivities  Daniel_Kahneman  psychologists  delusions  self-delusions  skin_in_the_game  gut_feelings  risk-taking  partnerships 
december 2016 by jerryking
The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru - The New York Times
By DAVID SAMUELSMAY 5, 2016

Ben Rhodes walks through the room, a half-beat behind a woman in leopard-print heels. He is holding a phone to his ear, repeating his mantra: “I’m not important. You’re important.”....As the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, Rhodes writes the president’s speeches, plans his trips abroad and runs communications strategy across the White House, tasks that, taken individually, give little sense of the importance of his role. ...Rhodes strategized and ran the successful Iran-deal messaging campaign, helped negotiate the opening of American relations with Cuba after a hiatus of more than 50 years and has been a co-writer of all of Obama’s major foreign-policy speeches. ...Like Obama, Rhodes is a storyteller who uses a writer’s tools to advance an agenda that is packaged as politics but is often quite personal. He is adept at constructing overarching plotlines with heroes and villains, their conflicts and motivations supported by flurries of carefully chosen adjectives, quotations and leaks from named and unnamed senior officials. He is the master shaper and retailer of Obama’s foreign-policy narratives, at a time when the killer wave of social media has washed away the sand castles of the traditional press. His ability to navigate and shape this new environment makes him a more effective and powerful extension of the president’s will than any number of policy advisers or diplomats or spies. ....Price turns to his computer and begins tapping away at the administration’s well-cultivated network of officials, talking heads, columnists and newspaper reporters, web jockeys and outside advocates who can tweet at critics and tweak their stories backed up by quotations from “senior White House officials” and “spokespeople.....Watching Rhodes work, I remember that he is still, chiefly, a writer, who is using a new set of tools — along with the traditional arts of narrative and spin — to create stories of great consequence on the biggest page imaginable. The narratives he frames, the voices of senior officials, the columnists and reporters whose work he skillfully shapes and ventriloquizes, and even the president’s own speeches and talking points, are the only dots of color in a much larger vision about who Americans are and where we are going that Rhodes and the president have been formulating together over the past seven years. When I asked Jon Favreau, Obama’s lead speechwriter in the 2008 campaign, and a close friend of Rhodes’s, whether he or Rhodes or the president had ever thought of their individual speeches and bits of policy making as part of some larger restructuring of the American narrative, he replied, “We saw that as our entire job.”...The job he was hired to do, namely to help the president of the United States communicate with the public, was changing in equally significant ways, thanks to the impact of digital technologies that people in Washington were just beginning to wrap their minds around.....
Ben_Rhodes  U.S.foreign_policy  Communicating_&_Connecting  policy_tools  White_House  writers  strategic_thinking  storytelling  narratives  speechwriters  Obama  PDB  messaging  Syria  Iraq  Middle_East  novelists 
may 2016 by jerryking
Violently Wrought, Kaitlyn Greenidge interviews Marlon James - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics
Kaitlyn Greenidge interviews Marlon James
November 3, 2014

Guernica: When you are inside the big book, how do you map out structure?

Marlon James: I have note sheets. I use Moleskine notebooks. I’m analog like that. I have a plot chart. I have different columns for the character, rows with different times of day, because even though it’s a big book, each chapter takes place basically in a day. So I need to know where Nina Burgess is at nine o’clock, and where she’ll be at ten. It allows me to be spontaneous. It’s sort of like how knowing prosody really liberates a poet.

If you know you have a backbone, you can bend and contort. That’s what allowed a lot of the freedom in the book. Because half of that stuff in that chart I didn’t follow. Because characters become real and they don’t take crap from you. But also because I always knew where the return line was. You can always go so far out on a limb and know you have to come back to this point. Plot charts and diagramming also stopped me from playing favorites. Because everybody had to get equal time.
Marlon_James  writers  Caribbean  culture  violence  fiction  books  Jamaica  '70s  profile  authors  teachers  Bob_Marley  writing  analog  spontaneity  Moleskine  plot_charts  diagramming  Man_Booker  prizes 
january 2016 by jerryking
Urban fiction: words on the street - FT.com
November 13, 2015 4:34 pm
Urban fiction: words on the street
Neil Munshi
fiction  books  writers  African-Americans  urban 
november 2015 by jerryking
Black Kudos • Claude Brown Claude Brown (February 23, 1937 -...
Claude Brown

Claude Brown (February 23, 1937 - February 2, 2002) is the author of Manchild in the Promised Land, published to critical acclaim in 1965, which tells the story of his coming of age during the 1940s and 1950s in Harlem. He also published Children of Ham (1976).
writers  nostalgia  African-Americans  Harlem  New_York_City  '50s  lawyers  '40s  coming-of-age 
october 2015 by jerryking
Desmond Cole’s feature on carding lit a fuse under the city’s elite, but why did it take so long? - The Globe and Mail
SIMON HOUPT
The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Jun. 11, 2015

While Cole is elated with Tory’s change of heart, his feelings are tempered by the way it came about. “It’s very sad, and should concern people. Because not everyone will get a feature in Toronto Life to air their story,” he noted. After all, Cole had been there during a Police Services Board meeting, when John Tory sat and listened impassively to testimony from lower- and middle-income black people who were living in fear of random police stops.

“It’s not a good sign, when you can have that direct contact with leaders and they won’t listen to you. But they will listen to essentially their peers, who might not experience this issue in the same way at all, who might not know a lot about it.”
Desmond_Cole  Simon_Houpt  Toronto  Toronto_Life  writers  randomness  journalists  African_Canadians  John_Tory 
june 2015 by jerryking
Author Helen Humphreys on why she wrote her new book, the best advice she’s received and more - The Globe and Mail
The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Feb. 06 2015,

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Notice where you are and what it has to offer. Don’t force an agenda on people or places, but rather let yourself be open and receptive to what is already there. Also, to always do the important tasks of the day first thing in the morning, because a day will always get away from you. Both of these tips are good advice for life and writing equally.
writers  advice  GTD  tips  productivity  first90days  agendas 
february 2015 by jerryking
David Chilton’s rise from The Wealthy Barber to The Wealthy Dragon - The Globe and Mail
IAN MCGUGAN
TORONTO — The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Jan. 23 2015,

Clips from the Wealthy Barber

On luck: “I’ve been incredibly lucky in life, and my health is my greatest gift. I don’t work out much, I love Nibs and Diet Pepsi, but I’m never sick a day, I never get a cold, I hardly ever sleep, and it’s all from my mom and dad. They’re in their early 80s and still have crazy energy.”

On the economy: “I try to be optimistic but you have to be concerned about debt levels just about anywhere in the developed world. I think governments are making promises they may not be able to keep. It would not shock me to see another financial crisis at some point over the next three to five years.”

On investing: “It’s shocking how badly many people manage their own investments. Mutual fund fees and expenses are part of that, but we also appear to have mastered the art of buying mutual funds that are just about to underperform.”

On mutual funds: “Paying 2 per cent [in mutual fund fees] doesn’t sound like much, because we still relate things to our high school marks. Losing 2 per cent off a mark of, say, 70 per cent is no big deal. But with mutual funds, you’re talking about losing two percentage points of an estimated 8 per cent or so return. That’s a quarter of your expected gain.”

On alternative investing: “If you’re going to get involved with hedge funds, don’t invest in them, run them.”

On entrepreneurship: “A lot of the people we see on Dragons’ Den have the naive idea that the biggest challenge in business is getting their product on the shelves. It’s not – it’s getting it off the shelves. Once it’s in the store, how do you create demand, how do you make it stand out among the competition?”

On perseverance: “No author in history did more interviews about a single book than I did about The Wealthy Barber. I did hundreds of interviews a year. For years and years and years.”
creating_demand  personal_finance  personal_branding  angels  entrepreneurship  luck  fees_&_commissions  perseverance  debt  investing  writers  authors  developed_countries  developing_countries 
january 2015 by jerryking
Are book publishers blockbustering themselves into oblivion? - The Globe and Mail
RUSSELL SMITH
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Nov. 28 2014

Whatever they mean, they certainly cannot mean a shrinking talent pool.

So they must mean that they are not, in fact, interested in the real talent pool, or in a wide variety of literature. What they are looking for are bestsellers, which tend to be particularly narrow kinds of books. Most of the gargantuan advances that have made headlines in the U.S. recently are for science-fiction and fantasy books. Every publisher is looking for exactly the same book – basically, they are looking for The Hunger Games again and again. When they say “quality,” they mean “mass appeal.”...But in concentrating on bestsellers to the detriment of other literature, the publishers are simply following the model of all the entertainment industries. Providing an eclectic variety of entertainments to please a diverse audience, as the free Internet can do, just hasn’t been lucrative for the conglomerates that own film studios and recording labels. They are in constant search of blockbusters.

As they grow larger and concentrate their efforts and investments on massive, sure-fire hits – the next Marvel movie, the next Taylor Swift album – the cultural landscape seems paradoxically smaller. It becomes even more difficult to get an indie film made – the huge projects suck the oxygen (financing, distribution, media coverage) out of the biosphere.

In following this larger trend, book publishers are shortsighted. By reducing their involvement in original and challenging art, they relinquish literary fiction to the tiny presses and online magazines, and so become artistically irrelevant and, in the long run, uninteresting even as suppliers of entertainment. Pursuing mainstream popularity with ever-larger sums of money is ultimately self-destructive....Yes, such high-mindedness is all very well for someone who doesn’t have to keep a money-losing, employment-providing company afloat. And Le Guin’s vague rejection of capitalism is not a solution to the immediate problems facing publishers. But her point about taking the long view – about concentrating on valuable literature for the sake of the industry’s general health – is surely a practical one as well.
books  publishing  Russell_Smith  literature  blockbusters  art  short-sightedness  conglomerates  indie  winner-take-all  Amazon  writers  long-term  self-destructive  talent_pools 
november 2014 by jerryking
Brands not just a new wrapper for institutions
Fall 2014 | Western Alumni Alumni Gazette   | by Paul Wells, BA'89.

Michael Ignatieff is an asset to the Harvard brand. Or rather, to the Kennedy School brand, because Ignatieff is returning to the John F. Kennedy School of Government, also known as the Harvard Kennedy School or even as HKS. In other words, Harvard today is a sort of a nested set of Russian dolls of identity. There’s Harvard on the outside, and various affiliated schools further in, with academics of greater or lesser star power in the middle.

And it’s all of those attributes together, that jumble of organizations and individuals, that informed audiences think about when they think about Harvard.....In 2012 Arthur Brisbane, the former public editor of the New York Times, noted he found himself at “an oddly disaggregated New York Times of hyper-engaged journalists building their own brands, and company content flung willy-nilly into the ether.” The Times, surely the strongest newspaper brand in the world, has watched while reporter-columnists like David Carr, Mark Bittman, Paul Krugman, David Brooks take their act at least partly on the road, through active Twitter accounts, books, TV and public speaking gigs. I’ve even had well-meaning readers tell me I’d do better to leave Maclean’s and hang out my own shingle. But that misunderstands the nature of the relationship: The umbrella organization strengthens the individual writer’s clout — and vice versa. Strong identities aren’t something to fear on a big team. They’re essential to the team’s success
Paul_Wells  Colleges_&_Universities  Harvard  brands  branding  KSG  Michael_Ignatieff  personal_branding  NYT  symbiosis  relationships  unidirectional  bidirectional  misunderstandings  star_power  columnists  identity  matryoshka_dolls  writers 
september 2014 by jerryking
Former RBC banker is hero of new Michael Lewis book - The Globe and Mail
JOANNA SLATER
Former RBC banker is hero of new Michael Lewis book Add to ...
Subscribers Only

NEW YORK — The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, Mar. 27 2014
Michael_Lewis  RBC  writers 
march 2014 by jerryking
Bye-Bye Barbar
March 3, 2005 | The LIP Magazine |by Taiye Tuakli-Wosornu.
Africa  Diaspora  emigration  writers  cosmopolitan 
january 2014 by jerryking
Vanities, and Hungry New Yorkers - NYTimes.com
November 21, 2013 | NYT | By GINIA BELLAFANTE.
In NYC, cultural philanthropy vastly outpaces social-service philanthropy...Although it is one of the largest food banks in the country, supplying food to more than 1,000 pantries and soup kitchens, and although it has been in existence for three decades, the Food Bank received its first $1 million donation from a private citizen only two years ago, and it came from a foreigner who had moved here and become appalled at how little the affluent classes seemed to understand problems of native poverty and hunger....Even before the cuts went into effect, matching supply with demand presented wounding challenges....When the Food Bank was created in 1983, its founders foresaw a life span of merely a decade or so, in which the organization would primarily serve homeless men. Instead it functions today largely to assist working families....The study revealed that the majority of clients in the group’s network were visiting food pantries not for temporary assistance but for continuing sustenance....Further complicating matters in the world of food relief is the increased complexity of sourcing. In the early days of food pantries, much of what came in arrived in the form of canned goods, but the country’s growing investment in nutrition has meant that relief groups strive to supply more fresh fruits and vegetables now, which requires them to incur greater costs of refrigeration. At the same time, the buying patterns of grocers have become ever more sophisticated, meaning that they can more closely predict the number of pears, for instance, that they can sell, leaving less overstock available for donation....Another trend that has developed over the past decade is the diversion of food to secondary markets. Food close to its expiration date, which otherwise might have found its way to a food bank or pantry, is now sold to dollar stores or countries where regulation may be less stringent.
New_York_City  dilemmas  philanthropy  writers  hunger  food  taxonomy  poverty  food_pantries  overstock  grocery  supermarkets  refrigeration  social-services 
november 2013 by jerryking
Robert Capon |
Sept. 21st 2013 | The Economist |

Just an excellent write up of Robert Capon, priest, theologian and food writer, who died on September 5th aged 87
obituaries  priests  writers  gastronomy 
november 2013 by jerryking
A murder that changed Toronto
Oct. 12 2013 | The Globe and Mail | by GAYLE MacDONALD.
Toronto's loss of innocence....Anthony De Sa's new novel, Kicking The Sky, revolves around the murder of 12-year-old Emanuel Jaques and its impact on Toronto's Portuguese community, the city at large and three young boys who decide to search for Emanuel’s body. It is a coming-of-age story about hard truths and loss of innocence.
killings  Toronto  ethnic_communities  '70s  writers  neighbourhoods  Portuguese  coming-of-age  hard_truths 
october 2013 by jerryking
Tom Clancy knew that it was all about the story
Oct. 04 2013 | The Globe and Mail | ROBERT WIERSEMA

Late one afternoon, two men came into the store, clearly American in that slightly louder-talking, slightly bigger-than-life way that stands out in unassuming Victoria. They wandered the store for a bit before stopping at the display of Tom Clancy’s then-newest paperback, The Sum of All Fears.

One of the men brought a copy to the cash desk. Rather than pulling out his wallet, though, he asked to borrow a pen. Flipping the book open, he signed the title page, along with a note, something along the lines of: “Thank you for your support.”

He slid the book back across the desk to me with a small smile. And then, without another word, Tom Clancy left the store.

That casually bad-ass blend of hubris and humility was my one personal encounter with Clancy.....Clancy was one of a group of authors that included the recently departed and much-missed Elmore Leonard and Ray Bradbury, among others, who reminded me of the values of storytelling, the virtues of characterization, plot and wonder – elements that were either overlooked or looked down upon in the English department.
Tom_Clancy  covert_operations  espionage  authors  tributes  obituaries  writers  storytelling  virtues  characterization  plot  wonder 
october 2013 by jerryking
Tom Clancy, Best-Selling Master of Military Thrillers, Dies at 66
October 2, 2013 | NYTimes.com |By JULIE BOSMAN.

Tom Clancy’s debut book, “The Hunt for Red October,” was frequently cited as one of the greatest genre novels ever written. With the book’s publication in 1984, Mr. Clancy introduced a new kind of potboiler: an espionage thriller dense with technical details about weaponry, submarines and intelligence agencies.
obituaries  writers  fiction  security_&_intelligence  espionage  covert_operations  Cold_War  Tom_Clancy  militaries 
october 2013 by jerryking
Whatever rejects us only makes us stronger
23 Jan 2007 | National Post pg. AL1 | Robert Fulford.

However phrased, rejection plays a key role in the drama of the writing life. In some careers it's enacted over and over, like a recurring nig...
rejections  writers  resilience  from notes
june 2013 by jerryking
Why Taiye Selasi is ‘not a normal literary lady’
Mar. 31 2013 | The Globe and Mail |JOHN BARBER
Afropolitan Taiye is the author of Ghana Must Go.
writers  African-Americans  Ghana  Ghanaian  women  Andrew_Wylie  Afropolitan  John_Barber  Africa  cosmopolitan 
june 2013 by jerryking
Anthony Lewis, Who Transformed Coverage of the Supreme Court, Dies at 85 - NYTimes.com
By ADAM LIPTAK
Published: March 25, 2013

“Gideon’s Trumpet,”
“Portrait of a Decade: The Second American Revolution,” about the civil rights movement.
“Make No Law,”
obituaries  NYT  U.S._Supreme_Court  journalists  books  editorials  writers 
march 2013 by jerryking
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