The Week’s Best Longreads: The Daily Beast Picks for January 14, 2012

From Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s plan to beat Apple to the twilight of Joan Didion, The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.

01.14.12 9:45 AM ET

State of the Union
David Remnick, The New Yorker

Jodi Kantor’s new book about the Obama marriage, and why the president and first lady have it so much better than most of their predecessors.

Steve Ballmer Reboots
Ashlee Vance, Businessweek

Cooler tech, more energy, higher profit—the Microsoft CEO is out to prove Steve Jobs wrong and make Redmond relevant again

Why Write Novels at All?
Garth Risk Hallberg, New York Times Magazine

Writers of the Franzen Generation have decided that the purpose of fiction is to make us feel less alone. Will that be enough to save the novel?

I’ll Be Your Mirror
Madiha R. Tahir, The Caravan

How a former cricket star Imran Khan became Pakistan’s most loved politician.

The Autumn of Joan Didion
Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic

Her work is a triumph—and a disaster.

Letter from New Orleans
Wright Thompson, Grantland

The National Championship Game, Louisiana politics, and Edwin Edwards's last campaign.