Friday, April 18, 2014

Theme: Friendship

  • Elizabeth Bishop’s most impactful letter of the summer of 1947 was the first substantive one she ever wrote to Robert Lowell. Written from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia on August 14, that first real letter of the poets’ storied epistolary friendship begins with a parenthetical aside that nods to their new familiarity: "Dear Robert, (I’ve never been able to catch that name they call you, but Mr. Lowell doesn’t sound right, either.)”Read more
  • The first time I visited Leipzig, Germany was late in the winter of 1992, not long after the much-hyped reunification. The East was still very much “The East,” and though money was pouring in from the federal government, no one really seemed to know what the rules were. Prices on most commodities were wildly inconsistent, even from one street to the next. Out of sheer uncertainty, or else habit, people continued to shop at the old communist grocery store chain, Konsum, where there was one kind of bread, one kind of butter, one kind of milk in a bottle you brought back for your 10-pfennig deposit. Often the choices were further simplified by some items not being available at all.Read more
  • Patricia will be late. As I think this, with a tolerant fondness, she texts that she’ll be late. It doesn’t bother me. I’ve known her eighteen years, and she confirms herself, the deeply known friend, which reminds me of love in its greatest warmths, its common comforts.Read more
  • Ann’s old friend Theresa seems to have gone a bit crazy. She shows up on Ann’s doorstep after six — she promised when they made these plans that she’d arrive in time for lunch — and is bedecked in garb that Ann, in their fifteen years’ acquaintance, has never seen the likes of: a loose poet’s blouse cut low enough in the front that her large breasts are thrust obscenely forward; skin-tight, trendy-looking bluejeans that flare at the bottom over an expensive pair of fawn-colored cowboy boots.Read more
  • Terry Castle reads an essay from her latest collection, The Professor, about her friendship with Susan Sontag.Read more
  • When Jacob still thought that he might end up there, he visited Will for a weekend at Harvard. This was the winter of Jacob’s junior year, when life at home had started to feel like something worth leaving behind, and college — any college — loomed like an oasis on the horizonRead more
  • The Internet, it seems, is destroying everything. In the aftermath of its Shiva-like arrival, the rest of the world now appears shabby, neglected, left over. It has destroyed or is in the process of destroying long-familiar objects: TVs, stereos, telephones, newspapers, musical instruments, clocks, books. It is also destroying institutions: stores, universities, banks, happy hours, travel agencies. Teleconferencing is increasingly obviating the need for travel; Wikipedia is now vastly superior to anything Diderot could have imagined (and unlike the Encyclopédie, Jimmy Wales's creation is perpetually improvable). As a friend recently put it to me: to denounce Wikipedia is like denouncing the Enlightenment. Nay more: Wikipedia is the Enlightenment realized, for better or worse. Read more
  • Benji Nakamook thought we should waterboard each other, me and him and Vincie Portite. We wouldn't count the seconds to see who was bravest or whose lungs were deepest — this wasn't for a contest. We'd each be held under til the moment the possibility of death became real to us, and in that moment, according to Benji, we'd have to draw one of the following conclusions: "My best friends are about to accidentally drown me!" or "My best friends are actually trying to drown me!" The point was to learn what it was we feared more: being misunderstood or being betrayed. Read more
  • Doug Dorst reads the title story from The Surf Guru about an old surfing champion who sits on his oceanfront balcony watching a new generation of surfers come of age on the waves.Read more
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