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Category Archives: Book Bench

George Saunders Gives Advice

In May, 2005, The Believer launched Sedaratives, an advice column helmed by Amy Sedaris that soon featured a cast of guest advisers—writers, producers, actors, and comedians—who, every month, were given a selection of questions that ranged from the poignant to the, well, not: My mother says that nobody has good manners anymore. This coming from […]

Lucy Worsley and the History of the British Home

In the November 21, 2011, issue of the magazine, Lauren Collins wrote about Lucy Worsley, the chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces, which runs the Tower of London, Kensington Palace, Hampton Court Palace, Kew Palace, and the Banqueting House at Whitehall. “In a land of ponderous dons who go by their initials, Dr. Lucy, a […]

Dear Sugar = Cheryl Strayed

On March 11, 2010, an anonymous writer introduced herself as the new voice of “Dear Sugar,” an advice column on the Web site the Rumpus. Sugar claimed she would offer a combination of “the by-the-book common sense of Dear Abby and the earnest spiritual cheesiness of Cary Tennis and the butt-pluggy irreverence of Dan Savage […]

Olive Oil’s Dark Side

In the August 13, 2007, issue of the magazine, Tom Mueller wrote about corruption in the olive-oil trade. By the late nineteen-nineties, olive oil—often cut with cheaper oils, such as hazelnut and sunflower seed—was the most adulterated agricultural product in the European Union. The E.U.’s anti-fraud office established an olive-oil task force, “yet fraud remains […]

Altered States

When Macy introduced this month’s Book Club selection, “Stone Arabia,” she mentioned its focus on the ideas of memory, time, and art. For me, the thread stringing these themes together was authenticity (a sentiment shared by Alex Shephard over at Full Stop, who has a great Q. & A. with Dana Spiotta). Nik is a […]

Reading List

Yesterday I stopped at a bookstore and found myself completely unable to remember the name of “The Curfew,” a novel reviewed in last week’s Brieflier Noted. “There’s a puppet? Or, like, maybe a kid? On the cover?” My awesome clues didn’t get the salespeople very far, and I walked out instead with “The Tiger’s Wife.” […]

The Exchange: Arthur Phillips

“The Tragedy of Arthur,” a novel by Arthur Phillips, is a bold and tangled work in two acts. The first is a faux-memoir, in which Phillips’s father, also an Arthur Phillips, has discovered a previously unknown Shakespeare play, also called “The Tragedy of Arthur.” Arthur Sr.—who happens to be a convicted forger—enlists Phillips’s help in […]

A Tender Age

In her post introducing June’s Book Club selection, “House of Prayer No. 2,” by Mark Richard, Macy cites a passage that includes this sentence: Sometimes in the orange and grey dust when the world is empty, the child lies in the cold backyard grass and watches the thousand starlings swarm Dr. Jim’s chimneys, and the […]

Briefliest Noted

Sometimes, I just have nothing more to say here about my Brieflier Noted posts. What, I’m going to summarize a summary of a summary? That reminds me of my junior-year English class, in which we didn’t read great works of literature but instead read something called Masterplots, which, as far as I now can tell, […]

Bye, Buy Brownstone

Remember when Lucy tells Charlie Brown that all she really wants for Christmas is real estate? I get it now. From this week’s Briefly Noted review of “The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn,” by Suleiman Osman: Today, Brooklyn real estate is among the most expensive and coveted in the nation. Read this week’s Brieflier Noted to […]