The incredible case of Kató Lomb, the woman who taught herself 16 languages

For the past year, I've been trying to learn Spanish. I started out knowing zilch - and had to begin with the alphabet. It's hard to learn a language as an adult. When people ask me why I'm trying anyway, I say travel, culture, the ability to speak and read another language. For fun, quite … Continue reading The incredible case of Kató Lomb, the woman who taught herself 16 languages

Advertisements

James Wood, a book reviewer worthy of being reviewed

Do you have a favorite book reviewer? Whenever I read a book review by James Wood in the New Yorker, I find myself marveling over Wood's writing. He can impart the feel of a work through an inspired metaphor or a vivid phrase. He manages to say in a single sentence what another reviewer might … Continue reading James Wood, a book reviewer worthy of being reviewed

The tragic story behind the Magnitsky Act

A dispatch from the era of alternative facts...  This week, I've been reading Congressional testimony.  (I should point out -- something I don't normally do. Desperate times.) With everything on Russia swirling around, we've heard by now about the Magnitsky Act -- which is often mentioned in the same breath as Russian adoptions. News articles … Continue reading The tragic story behind the Magnitsky Act

A salty take on F. Scott Fitzgerald in a 1945 New York Times article

Speaking of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and his delicate and moving personal essay The Crack-Up... I unearthed a 1945 book review on the collection of Fitzgerald writings of the same name, that had just been published. The review is by a one William Du Bois, who thought Fitzgerald was more or less a useless, immature, pretty-boy hack … Continue reading A salty take on F. Scott Fitzgerald in a 1945 New York Times article

The best personal essay I’ve ever read was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1936

I thought I knew F. Scott Fitzgerald because I'd read The Great Gatsby, discarded Tender Is the Night, and heard Hemingway tell how drunk he would get in Paris. I did not know F. Scott Fitzgerald. One day, a writer friend told me Fitzgerald is one of his favorite writers. "Why?" I asked. He told … Continue reading The best personal essay I’ve ever read was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1936

A quotation by Montesquieu befitting a cynical, troubled, witty woman

This epigraph in Price of Fame: The Honorable Clare Boothe Luce is cynical and so damn depressing and, let's admit, pretty spot on for the human species: If we only wanted to be happy it would be easy. But we want to be happier than other people, which is almost always difficult, since we think them happier … Continue reading A quotation by Montesquieu befitting a cynical, troubled, witty woman