“Antisocial,” the new book by Andrew Marantz, plainly states its subject in its subtitle: “Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation.” In order to write it, Marantz immersed himself in corners of the internet most of us would go out of our way to avoid.
Gail Collins visits the podcast this week to discuss her new book, “No Stopping Us Now,” an eye-opening chronicle of older women’s journey to progress in the United States over the years. “It used to be, the whole vision of your life if you were a woman was that you got married, you had children and, once the children were grown, you were old — done,”
Collins says on the podcast this week. “That was the thing I was looking at: What counted as old, and then what did women do when they got to what was regarded as old? How did they use it, how did they fight it?”
“I suppose I started off with a fairly literal view of the world,” he says. “But, quite early on, it became clear to me that there was much more going on than simply the picture I was seeing; that the natural world had an agenda of its own; that it was going to live out life, regardless of how we viewed it and how we used it; and, indeed, regardless of the fancy metaphors that we used.”
Oh my goodness. Where to begin?
I could start with the ‘Praying Beech’ – a tree whose (‘whose’? The human possessive feels simultaneously wrong and yet just right) two branch stubs clasped each other like hands. Once, when the rain fell in an apocalyptic burst, Richard Mabey watched its bark melt in front of his eyes. It was, of course, no stranger to extremes of weather: one summer past, the tree had been split by lightning, bees hunkering down in its newly-created hollows. Sometime later, a storm had toppled it, leaving fungi free to colonise its delicious surfaces: knobbly coral spots; dead man’s fingers rising corpse-like from the tree’s own rot; white porcelain tufts, like Royal Worcester plates awaiting a delicate slice of egg-yellow sponge.
Sciolino’s keen eye and vivid prose bring the river to life as she discovers its origins on a remote plateau of Burgundy, where a pagan goddess healed pilgrims at an ancient temple. She follows the Seine to Le Havre, where it meets the sea. Braiding memoir, travelogue, and history through the Seine’s winding route, Sciolino offers a love letter to Paris and the river at its heart and invites readers to explore its magic.
In the spring of 1978, as a young journalist in Paris, Elaine Sciolino was seduced by a river. In The Seine, she tells the story of that river through its rich history and lively characters—a bargewoman, a riverbank bookseller, a houseboat dweller, a famous cameraman known for capturing the river’s light. She patrols with river police, rows with a restorer of antique boats, discovers a champagne vineyard, and even dares to swim in the Seine.
In “Unto This Last and Other Essays on Art and Political Economy” (1860), which gives the exhibition its title, Ruskin “sees” interconnected social injustices. He attacks economic inequality. Later, he sets out to establish a utopian community in working-class Sheffield, England. In one gallery we see his influence on “progressive thinkers worldwide.” Gandhi said that reading “Unto This Last” in 1904 transformed his life and ideas.
The novelist Charlotte Brontë exclaimed after reading that first volume, “I feel now as if I had been walking blindfold[ed]—this book seems to give me eyes.”
‘If you can paint one leaf,” John Ruskin once declared, “you can paint the world.” And in “Unto This Last: Two Hundred Years of John Ruskin”—the hypnotically potent (though flawed) exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art marking the bicentennial of his birth—we see how wonderfully he kept trying.
The acclaimed biographer Edmund Morris died earlier this year, at 78, before he could see the publication of his new book, “Edison,” about the brilliant and prolific inventor. David Oshinsky, who reviewed the biography for us, visits the podcast this week to discuss Morris and Edison.
Tina Jordan is on this week’s episode, discussing three new celebrity memoirs, by Demi Moore, Julie Andrews and Carly Simon. “Of the three, the Demi Moore stood out,” Jordan says, “because I’m not used to seeing a book that frank in an era where 99.9 percent of our celebrity memoirs are just vapid.”
Adam Winkler, author of our October pick for the NewsHour-New York Times book club, Now Read This, joins William Brangham to discuss “We the Corporations,” and William announces the November book selection.
This week in Science, Helen Philips, a postdoctoral fellow at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research and the Institute of Biology at Leipzig University, and colleagues published the results of their worldwide earthworm study, composed of data sets from many worm researchers around the globe.