Literary Preview: The Paris Review – Summer 2023


The Paris Review – Summer 2023 Issue: The  Review  take an especial pleasure, as readers, in the diary form: that peculiar mixture of performance and unwitting self-revelation, of shapelessness and obsessive (occasionally deranged) selectivity; that sense of a narrative unfolding in real time, almost without the author’s permission. And while the Review doesn’t do themes, as we were putting together our new Summer issue, no. 244, it was hard not to notice our partiality peeking through.

In the issue, Lydia Davis shares selections from her 1996 journal, and they often read like warm-up scales for her exquisitely off-kilter stories. (“For lunch—a huge potato and a glass of milk.”) You’ll also find masterful uses of the diary as a fictional device. The Brazilian writer Juliana Leite’s “My Good Friend,” translated by Zoë Perry, is an elderly widow’s apparently unremarkable Sunday-evening entry—“About the roof repair, I have nothing new to report”—that turns into a story of mostly unspoken decadeslong love. And James Lasdun’s “Helen” features excerpts from the journal of a woman who lives in what the narrator describes as a “state of incandescent, almost spiritual horror,” and whose crippling self-consciousness doesn’t protect her from humiliations the reader can see coming.

Also in issue no. 244, John Keene, in an Art of Fiction interview with Aaron Robertson, describes how blogging heralded his recovery as a writer after losing drafts of several of the stories that eventually became Counternarratives. And Sharon Olds, in an Art of Poetry interview, tells Jessica Laser about the need to keep one’s art and biography separate, especially when they are clearly not. Keeping a diary might be therapeutic, Olds explains, but “writing a poem to understand yourself better would be like making a cup with no clay, or maybe like having the clay but not making the cup.” She concludes, “If I had to choose between a poem being therapeutic and it being a better poem, I’d want it to be a better poem.”


New Yorker 2023 Reviews: Richard Brody’s Best Films

The New Yorker (June 9, 2023) – At the midway point of the year, the film critic discusses his top three films of the year.

00:00 Richard Brody’s Top 3 Films 00:14 Pinball: The Man Who Saved the Game 01:26 A Thousand and One 03:01 Showing Up 04:19 Final Thoughts

Travel Tour: Moustiers-Sainte-Marie In France (4K)

Tourist Channel (June 9, 2023) – Since 1981 Moustiers Sainte-Marie has been listed as one of the most beautiful village of France. The church, the old village walls, the chapels, the aqueduct, the fountains represent an alliance of water and stone.

It lies at the western entrance to the Verdon Gorge (Gorges du Verdon). The village has been a centre of the pottery trade, especially faïence, for centuries. A spring flows out of the cliff and creates a waterfall in town, providing water power.

Design Tour: Bass Coast Farmhouse In Australia

The Local Project (June 9, 2023) – Positioned on a piece of land with rich history, Bass Coast Farmhouse by Wardle overlooks an expansive coastline that reaches out to Bass Strait. Inside the ultimate farm house, where an internal courtyard is hidden, the home offers its owners thoughtful connections to their natural surrounds.

Video timeline: 00:00 – Intro to the Ultimate Farm House 00:37 – The Original Idea 00:57 – The Second Primary Strategy 01:03 – Revegetation of Indigenous Planting 01:36 – A Walkthrough of the Farm House 02:51 – The Two Living Zones 03:24 – The Integration of Primal Activities 04:00 – Illumination Throughout the Home 04:17 – The Materials Used 04:55 – Neutral Palettes and Other Aspects 06:13 – The Intimate Requirements of a Home

Throughout the reformation of the old farm, the architect has worked with a deep sensibility to rehabilitate the home, as well as the land on which it sits, by both re-using materials and employing new environmentally kind ones. When tasked with Bass Coast Farmhouse, Wardle began the process of rejuvenating the home by reducing its plan down to three simple elements – a steel roof, timber walls and a single chimney.

This idea naturally flowed into the the ide of designing the home to not only sit upon the land but to interact with it. Upon arrival, Bass Coast Farmhouse appears almost cartoon-like with its rectangular form and minimal materials. Surrounding the home is a rolling garden. Designed by Jo Henry Landscape Design, each plant has been finished with plastic containers that will nurture the growth of the indigenous plantings until they reach maturity. Furthermore, the home’s form has been designed to sway with the typography of the land.

Previously cleared as farmland, the entire 300 acres have also been reworked to encourage and inspire the growth of vegetation around the home and across the entire site. The single front door opens to welcome the owners and guests inside the ultimate farm house, where Wardle has placed a mud, boot and cloak room at the entrance of the home.

Preview: New York Times Magazine – June 11, 2023


THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE (June 09, 2023) – Inside the $4-billion credit repair industry. Plus, the mycologist who wants us to learn about the magic of mushrooms and the cringe comedian perfect for this moment.

The High Cost of Bad Credit

Taqwanna Clark standing in an office in a blue suit. "Credit Life Inc" is on the wall behind Clark.
Taqwanna Clark, a credit-repair agent in Houston and the founder of Credit Lift Inc.Credit…Eli Durst for The New York Times

Desperate to improve their ratings, Americans now spend billions on “credit repair” — but the industry often can’t deliver on its promises.

By Mya Frazier

When Taqwanna Clark went to buy a video camera at Fry’s Electronics in Houston, she asked if they had a layaway plan. The cashier instead handed her an application for a store credit card. She applied. “Instantly, it came back declined — like, No!” she says. “Denied, denied — you know, your credit is not good enough.” Clark was 30 and working as a security guard at the Port of Houston. On weekends, she performed as a rapper in the local club scene, under the name T-Baby. She wanted the camera to shoot music videos, to promote her music career. “If I can’t afford a $200 camera,” she recalls thinking, “then I’m in a bad way with this credit thing.”

The Man Who Turned the World on to the Genius of Fungi

A close-up photograph of Merlin Sheldrake.
Merlin Sheldrake, author of the best-selling book “Entangled Life.” 

A vast fungal web braids together life on Earth. Merlin Sheldrake wants to help us see it.

By Jennifer Kahn

One evening last winter, Merlin Sheldrake, the mycologist and author of the best-selling book “Entangled Life,” was headlining an event in London’s Soho. The night was billed as a “salon,” and the crowd, which included the novelist Edward St. Aubyn, was elegant and arty, with lots of leggy women in black tights and men in perfectly draped camel’s-hair coats. “Entangled Life” is a scientific study of all things fungal that reads like a fairy tale, and since the book’s publication in 2020, Sheldrake has become a coveted speaker.

Tim Robinson and the Golden Age of Cringe Comedy

A photo illustration of Tim Robinson’s face stretched lengthwise in a collage.
Credit…Photo illustration by Lola Dupre

His sketch show, “I Think You Should Leave,” zeroes in on the panic-inducing feelings of living in a society where we can’t agree on the rules.

By Sam Anderson

Tim Robinson loves spicy food.

This minor fact is one of the major things I learned at my very awkward dinner interview with Robinson and Zach Kanin, creators of the cult Netflix comedy series “I Think You Should Leave.” Robinson ordered drunken spaghetti with tofu — spicy — and, almost immediately, the spaghetti started to make his voice hoarse. He insisted, however, that this had nothing to do with the spice — in fact, he said, his food wasn’t spicy enough. I asked our server if she could go spicier. She brought out a whole dish of special chiles. Robinson spooned them enthusiastically over his noodles.

Travel: The ‘Chic Magic’ Of The Island Of Ischia, Italy

From a rooftop you look over a village, with a strip of sand with a beach on one side and a harbor on the other, leading to a small rock island.

The New York Times Travel (June 9, 2023) – The Italian island, long in the shadow of its fashionable neighbor, Capri, is newly chic, but remains deeply authentic, with rocky harbors more likely to dock fishing boats than megayachts.

This Is Ischia’s Moment in the Sun

By Ondine Cohane

A red-walled building with white crenellation and black shutters on the windows stands on a cliff above the sea.
The Hotel Mezzatorre is perched on a finger of land with a view onto the bay of Naples and the beach of San Montano below.

Ischia is one of a trio of islands (known as the Phlegraeans) off Naples that also includes Capri and Procida. Capri’s size and popularity with day trippers means it can easily feel overrun and overexposed. Procida is the smallest of the three and has never gotten the attention of its siblings (although it too is worth a visit for its pastel villages and artisan workshops).

A face in a stone wall spouts water from its mouth into a pond with lily pads surrounded by vegetation.
La Mortella gardens in Forio were created by the renowned garden designer Russell Page. 

Ischia’s magic is that it’s suspended between the newly chic — with the recent overhaul of the Mezzatorre Hotel by the hotelier Marie-Louise Sció, who brought a crowd that had never heard of the island but were fans of her über-photogenic hotels — and the authentic. There are simple bars, beach clubs and harbors more likely to dock fishing boats than megayachts. With a surface area of almost 18 square miles, the island is home to a number of charming villages to explore like Forio, Ischia Ponte, Sant’Angelo and Casamicciola, among others. Add in natural thermal spas, lush vineyards and deserted coves, and it’s easy to see why Ischia is quickly become one of Italy’s rising destinations.

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News: China Fighter Jets Enter Taiwan Airspace, EU Creates New ‘Ethics Body’

The Globalist Podcast, Friday, June 9, 2023: China enters Taiwanese airspace and Japanese waters. Is this business as usual or a serious escalation?

Plus: the EU’s “Hogwarts for ambassadors”, the latest fashion news and the White Cube gallery heads to Seoul.

The New York Times – Friday, June 9, 2023


Justice Department Charges Trump in Documents Case

The indictment followed criminal charges against former President Donald J. Trump in a hush-money case brought by local prosecutors in New York.

The indictment, handed up by a grand jury in Miami, is the first time a former U.S. president has faced federal charges.

Indictment Brings Trump Story Full Circle

The indictment in the documents case is the second brought against former President Donald J. Trump, but in many ways it eclipses the first in both legal gravity and political peril.

The former president assailed Hillary Clinton for her handling of sensitive information. Now, the same issue threatens his chances of reclaiming the presidency.

Voting Map That Diluted Black Voters’ Power

Voting rights advocates had feared that the decision about redistricting in Alabama would further undermine the Voting Rights Act, which instead appeared to emerge unscathed.

Record Pollution and Heat Herald a Season of Climate Extremes

Scientists have long warned that global warming will increase the chance of severe wildfires like those burning across Canada and heat waves like the one smothering Puerto Rico.

Reviews: ‘The Week In Art’

The Art Newspaper (June 8, 2023): Thom Yorke and Stanley Donwood on their collaborative art, Wayne McGregor on his new choreographic work—a collaboration with the late Carmen Herrera—and Whistler’s Mother returns to Philadelphia.

Ahead of an exhibition of their work in London in September, we talk to Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Stanley Donwood—who has created the artwork with Yorke for every Radiohead album since 1994, as well the visuals accompanying Thom’s solo records and side projects including the recent records by The Smile—about their collaboration.

A new work for the UK’s Royal Ballet by the choreographer Wayne McGregor premieres at the Royal Opera House in London on 9 June. Untitled, 2023 is a collaboration with the Cuban-American artist Carmen Herrera, developed before Herrera’s death last year at the age of 106. We talk to McGregor about the piece and the intersection between visual art and choreography.

And this episode’s Work of the Week is one of the most famous pictures in the world: Arrangement in Grey and Black, better known as Whistler’s Mother, by James Abbott McNeill Whistler. It’s part of an exhibition called The Artist’s Mother: Whistler and Philadelphia, curated by Jenny Thompson, and we speak to Jenny about the work and the show.

Research Preview: Science Magazine – June 9, 2023


Science Magazine – June 9, 2023 issue: In response Covid-19 lockdowns that severely altered human mobility, with many people confined to their homes, animals such as the coyote (Canis latrans) traveled longer distances and occurred closer to roads. These changes suggest that animals can modify their behavior in response to rapid changes in human mobility.

Was a small-brained human relative the world’s first gravedigger—and artist?

Anthropologists praise Homo naledi fossils but doubt spectacular claims of intentional burial and art

A reconstruction of Homo naledi’s head

A trio of papers posted online and presented at a meeting today lays out an astonishing scenario. Roughly 240,000 years ago, they suggest, small-brained human relatives carried their dead through a labyrinth of tight passageways into the dark depths of a vast limestone cave system in South Africa. Working by firelight, these diminutive cave explorers dug shallow graves, sometimes arranging bodies in fetal positions and placing a stone tool near a child’s hand. Some etched cave walls with crosshatches and others cooked small animals in what amounted to a subterranean funeral, more than 100,000 years before such behaviors emerged in modern humans.


Small lettuce sprouts growing on acetate

Crops grown without sunlight could help feed astronauts bound for Mars, and someday supplement dinner plates on Earth

For the first astronauts to visit Mars, what to eat on their 3-year mission will be one of the most critical questions. It’s not just a matter of taste. According to one recent estimate, a crew of six would require an estimated 10,000 kilograms of food for the trip. NASA—which plans to send people to Mars within 2 decades—could stuff a spacecraft with prepackaged meals and launch additional supplies to the Red Planet in advance for the voyage home. But even that wouldn’t completely solve the problem.

News, Views and Reviews For The Intellectually Curious