Peter Matthiessen and the Scale of the World

Peter Matthiessen’s The Cloud Forest: A Chronicle of the South American Wilderness was the same book in the 1980s, when I first read it, as it was on publication in 1961. In the 25-year interval forces had changed the Amazon, but their effects were not as apparent as they have become now. This means the […]

Did Superstition Win the World Series?

“I’m not watching,” my husband announced at the start of Game Five. I twisted on the sofa to stare at him. Andrew has been a staunch, unabashed Nationals fan since 2005, and the last time Washington won the World Series was as the Senators in 1924. “Every time I watch, they don’t get runs,” he […]

Native Americans Apply the Methods of Sacha Baron Cohen

The video seems legit, with its corporate-sounding platitudes and scenes of pretty families. “Everyone deserves energy,” it begins. “Energy fuels our favorite moments. But lately, the pathway to prosperity has been blocked. Those who live in the way of energy pipelines are also standing up against them, and it’s for good reason.” Cut to the […]

Trial by Fire

We start something new, or should, by defining our terms. “Wait, does this mean we’re not seeing other people?” “Did the doctor mean no dairy, not even yogurt?” So when I joined the staff of The Common Reader, I went a little clammy at the realization that I was not entirely sure what the word […]

Paul Rudd is Not Feeling Like Himself

The first season of the new streaming comedy Living with Yourself just dropped on Netflix. Each of the eight episodes is under 30 minutes, so the entire season can be binged in a night. It is worth a watch. Paul Rudd (most recently, Ant-Man) plays the starring (dual) role. Irish-born Aisling Bea costars as his […]

A Good Time with a Bad Idea

How will our alien overlords memorialize us, one day? Which single item will be on display in their Museum of the Milky Way to represent the former human race? Never mind your Space Shuttle, your iPad, your book, rubber tire, ink pen, or corkscrew. It will be something ingenious, wasteful, dangerous, pointless, and which both […]

Getting Better All the Time

My son was the only young person in the physical-therapy facility almost in Texas. The elderly were being led back and forth by cables rolling over pulleys. They stepped up and down on machines that went nowhere, turned circles with their feet but did not move. I was having ghost pains, an old woman on […]

The Great Sigh of Relief That Is Books

It is not a great time in the United States to say you believe in writing, reading, and books, but let me be a brave little culture warrior and proclaim that, along with having rich experiences in the world, they are just the best. I have always been a reader, but keeping books in the […]

No Time, No Consequences

I was slow to let my sons play video games with violence in them—freakishly slow, if you ask them, proving how out-of-touch I am with the hip, modern world. (Also: “Hip” is a gross word that old people use; please never say that again.) When they were younger it did make me mildly anxious even […]