The bestselling ‘Positivity’ tells us that there’s a precise tipping point at which being chipper delivers health and success, a conclusion trashed by a new study. Will Wilkinson sorts out the controversy.
If you take the "positivity self-test" on the website for Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the 3-to-1 Ratio That Will Change Your Life, a book by psychologist Barbara L. Fredrickson, the results page will tell you that "Dr. Fredrickson’s research indicates that a positivity ratio of 3 to 1 is a tipping point. This ratio divides those who merely get by in life from those who truly flourish." My "positivity ratio" wasn’t even close to 3 to 1.
‘It’s rather hackwork,’ Orwell said to his friend, the writer Arthur Koestler, in a letter written in 1946. ‘The chief bore is reading the books.’
To Arthur Koestler22 March 1946 27B Canonbury Square Islington N 1Dear Arthur,The Manchester Evening News want to know whether, when I stop my reviewing for them (ie. end of April), you would like to take over my job for 6 months. I told them I didn’t think it was awfully likely you would, but that I would ask you. It’s rather hackwork, but it’s a regular 8 guineas a week (that is what they pay me—I expect you could get a bit more out of them) for about 900 words, in which one can say more or less what one likes.
In her new memoir, French Elle editor Sophie Fontanel chronicles her decision to take a stupendously long break from the carnal life. By Lizzie Crocker.
In 1934, upon returning to New York from France, expatriate novelist Henry Miller lamented that the American female was bland and conformist, lacking the charged eroticism of Parisian women. If one were to replace the actresses of the New York stage with "a poor, skinny, misshapen French woman with just an ounce of personality," Miller grumbled, it "would stop the show. She would have what the Americans are always talking about but never achieve.
Katherine Boo, Tom Reiss, Robert Hass among winners.
Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers has won another biggie. The 2013 PEN Literary Awards were announced Wednesday, and Boo's nonfiction account of poverty in India, which won the National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, beat out Anne Applebaum’s National Book Award finalist Iron Curtain to win the John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction. Former poet laureate Robert Hass received the art of the essay award, while Sergio De La Pava won the debut novelist prize. The science writing prize was awarded to Leonard Mlodinow’s Subliminal, and the biography prize went to Tom Reiss’s for The Black Count. Winners will be honored on October 21 at the CUNY Graduate Center in a ceremony hosted by comedian and writer Andy Borowitz.
To coincide with the "Anchorman" sequel’s release.
Classy! Everyone’s favorite fictional San Diego newsman, Ron Burgundy, will be writing a memoir to coincide with the release of his new film, Anchorman 2: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. “I don’t know if it’s the greatest autobiography ever written,” Burgundy (aka actor Will Ferrell) said. “I’m too close to the work.” Publishing house Crown Archetype, an imprint of Random House’s Crown Publishing Group, released an extremely serious press release about the upcoming memoir, saying the book will be available Nov. 19, one month ahead of the film’s Dec. 20 release date. "The list of legendary American broadcast news journalists is short: Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and of course, Ron Burgundy,” says Crown editor-in-chief Mauro DiPreta.
The biographer, whose Pulitzer Prize-winning book ‘The Black Count’ is now out in paperback, talks about growing up in Little Vienna, listening to a Billy Joel song hundreds of times, and being an extreme night owl.
Where did you grow up?I spent my first four years in Washington Heights, at the top of Manhattan, when it was still a neighborhood filled with German-speaking Jewish refugees from the Nazis. We lived between my grandmother Honora’s apartment, a one-bedroom art deco stuffed with formal dark wood furniture shipped from Mannheim, Germany, and my great uncle Lolek and great aunt Gerda’s apartment, a slice of pre-war Vienna beneath the George Washington Bridge.
Thanks to the Internet, a generation of young transgendered individuals is finding community and identity online—and redefining who gets to be a feminist, writes Alissa Quart in her new book, 'Republic of Outsiders'.
Joshua Bastian Cole is talking about his life. “I go by Cole. I’m 32 years old. I live in Brooklyn, New York. I’m a queer playwright, dramaturge, theater and dance historian, classical revisionist and I’m also a female-to-male transsexual … I am part of the generation of transmen who came out on the Internet, which I think is a very historically relevant part of my identity,” he says.Cole talks for a while, around 20 minutes. I didn’t know Cole and I did not interview him in person.
A peripatetic collection of short stories ranges across influences (Babel, Turgenev, Cheever) and places (Moscow, Boston, Wyoming) in Peter Orner’s must read new collection, Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge.
Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge is Peter Orner’s second story collection, closely following the reissue of Esther Stories, Orner’s first, originally published in 2001. Like Esther Stories, this new book is divided into a four parts. These 51 new stories, from magazines like The Paris Review, Narrative, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Zyzzyva, and Third Coast seldom span more than five or six pages, with a few mutations that metamorphose to more than ten.
The Bard likely wrote parts of ‘The Spanish Tragedy.’
Messy handwriting ain’t so bad after all. Scholars have debated for centuries whether portions of Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy were written by William Shakespeare. Douglas Bruster, a professor at the University of Texas, identified Shakespeare’s distinct handwriting and idiosyncratic spelling in the so-called “Additional Passages” of the 1602 edition of the play, the closest thing to definitive proof yet that the 325 lines in question were indeed by the bard. Last year, the scholar Brian Vickers arrived at the same conclusion after a linguistic analysis. The “Additional Passages” were added after Kyd’s death to lend the violent revenge tale a measure of psychological depth and introspection. Bruster will publish a paper on his findings in the September issue of the journal Notes and Queries.
The poet and cultural critic Wayne Koestenbaum’s new book, ‘My 1980s and Other Essays,’ explores, among other things, the age of Ronald Reagan and MTV. Here are five of his favorite books from the decade.
The Morning of the Poem (1980) By James SchuylerSchuyler, a New York School poet, is less famous than his friends John Ashbery and Frank O’Hara, but his poetry, like theirs, is funny, ribald, noisy, erudite, and hospitable to every tangent and whim. The title poem rushes forward with a gorgeous hydraulic motion, as if Proust had been sped up and turned into a Town Car.Eros the Bittersweet (1986) By Anne CarsonSoon after publishing this book—her first—Carson transformed herself into a remarkable poet.
From a newly translated 1972 classic about women in the Caribbean to the latest in Benjamin Black/John Banville’s crime series.
The Bridge of Beyond By Simone Schwarz-Bart A 1972 classic laced with beauty and wonder, about women on the Caribbean island of Guadalupe.The narrator of this 1972 novel by Simone Schwarz-Bart (newly translated by Barbara Bray) is Telumee, who is looking back over four generations of women in her family on the Caribbean island of Guadalupe. Telumee finds miracles in the everyday as she draws on the struggles and triumphs of her forbears and navigates the pitfalls of her own life.
In 1944, three years before writing and five years before publishing ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four,’ George Orwell penned a letter detailing the thesis of his great novel. The letter, warning of the rise of totalitarian police states that will ‘say that two and two are five,’ is reprinted from ‘George Orwell: A Life in Letters,’ edited by Peter Davison and published today by Liveright.
To Noel Willmett18 May 1944 10a Mortimer Crescent NW 6Dear Mr Willmett,Many thanks for your letter. You ask whether totalitarianism, leader-worship etc. are really on the up-grade and instance the fact that they are not apparently growing in this country and the USA.I must say I believe, or fear, that taking the world as a whole these things are on the increase. Hitler, no doubt, will soon disappear, but only at the expense of strengthening (a) Stalin, (b) the Anglo-American millionaires and (c) all sorts of petty fuhrers° of the type of de Gaulle.
On the 200th anniversary of ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ two new titles dive into the habits and customs of the writer’s Regency England and the burgeoning business of extreme Austen fandom. Plus: Relive Colin Firth’s wet-shirt moment with a clip from the BBC’s famed miniseries.
No one who saw Jane Austen in her infancy would have supposed her born to be a literary giant, one of those rare artistic luminaries whose global brand is booming almost two centuries after her passing. The seventh child of an Anglican rector—a member of the lower ranks of the landed gentry, whose death threw the family into dire financial straits—Austen spent the majority of her life in the rural hamlets of Hampshire and the Somerset spa town of Bath, penning a handful of novels under the pseudonym “A Lady” and dying from a mysterious illness at the age of 41.
Most scholarly works on Islam are written by Christians or Jews, but Muslims rarely write about Christianity. Kirsten Powers talks to the author of 'Zealot' about the double standard.
What is it about Reza Aslan that has unhinged so many people?The author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth is at the center of an inexplicable firestorm for writing a book about Jesus. He’s been treated to hair-splitting attacks on his academic credentials and claims of a secret Muslim agenda. Nearly every critic of the Iranian-American and Muslim author has fretted over whether he has the right to tackle his subject. In an interview, Aslan was exasperated, pointing out to me repeatedly that his credentials were never questioned when he wrote the bestselling, No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam.
Wealthy as they are, the heirs of the Johnson & Johnson company have seen so many tragedies that one must wonder if there’s been a hex, as a new book suggests. Emma Garman tells the stories of a family besieged by early deaths, drug overdoses, sex scandals, and bizarre behaviors.
The idea that undeserved riches carry a curse appeals to our sense of fairness, to say nothing of whetting our appetite for schadenfreude. Whether it’s a Mega-Millions winner whose life has woefully disintegrated, or a perpetually unlucky-in-love silver spoon heiress, the media will invariably deliver the details in a tone of superstitious glee. The Johnson dynasty, along with the families Kennedy and Onassis, has for decades provided the most vivid illustrations that money not only can’t buy happiness, it also ushers in tragedy.
Is the practice of psychiatry really crumbling and in crisis, as stories of over- and under-diagnosis show? Psychoanalyst Matthew Tiffany on an important new book that shows just how complicated the issues and challenges are in the field.
Set aside an afternoon to go online and search for how psychiatry is failing. You’ll discover a cottage industry—a slew of books, editorials, essays, and news features covering the crumbling mental health services in America. Coast to coast, from The Los Angeles Review of Books to The New York Review of Books, there are essays on over-diagnosis, misdiagnosis, under-diagnosis; there’s a Greek chorus singing the zealotry of how doctors are all-too-frequently throwing medications at mental illness, while the pharmaceutical industry pulls the strings, like a malevolent Oz.
From the teenager who betrayed Wikileaks to the feminists trying to save Israel from fundamentalism, The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the Web this week.
Wikileaks’ Teenage Benedict Arnold Ryan Gallagher, Slate How the FBI used a baby-faced WikiLeaks volunteer to spy on Julian Assange.Taken Sarah Stillman, The New Yorker Under civil forfeiture, Americans who haven’t been charged with wrongdoing can be stripped of their cash, cars, and even homes. Is that all we’re losing?How Much Is a Life Worth? James Oliphant, National Journal Ken Feinberg, the man tasked with compensating victims after a devastating tragedy, knows the answer—and it’s rarely the same.
Regina Calcaterra survived homelessness and abuse before she emancipated herself at age 14. Now an accomplished lawyer, politician, and author of the upcoming ‘Etched in Sand,’ she makes the case for adopting teenagers instead—and giving them a home forever. As told to Caroline Linton.
When I grew up in foster care in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s and by the time I was in foster care in 1980, I had emancipated myself at the age of 14 so I could make my own decisions about how I was going to grow up as opposed to my mother. I was told during my emancipation process that, “Well, now that you’re emancipated, the next thing you have to [do is] plan what you’re going to do now that you’re 18.” Basically you’re told now that you’re 18, you’re no longer in social service and you’re no longer in the foster-care system and essentially you’re going to be homeless.
The Alaska pollock is said to be the largest remaining source of palatable fish in the world, used in the Filet-O-Fish sandwich at McDonald’s and by many other fast food chains. Some 1.5 million tons of it are caught in U.S. fisheries every year. But that’s a harvest level as close to the bone as we can cut. Kevin M. Bailey, the author of the new book ‘Billion-Dollar Fish,’ says the stock could be in danger of collapsing—and it could take its ecosystem down with it.
What is your big idea?If you talk with a fisheries scientist about harvest management, it usually ends with them drawing a curve and then a line. Where they intersect is an exact solution, the Maximum Sustainable Yield, the largest long-term average catch that can be taken without impairing the population’s reproducibility. By this engineering solution, the complexity of a whole ecosystem gets flattened onto a sheet of paper.Engineering solutions to fisheries problems in the United States took hold in the 1880s.
Can you write compellingly about the trials and tribulations of New York media types circa 2009? Choire Sicha’s ‘Very Recent History’ suggests not.
In 1977 the New Statesman published a poem by Craig Raine, “A Martian Sends a Postcard Home,” that launched the very minor British school of Martian Poetry. Martian poems were so called because they adopted the perspective of a stranger in a strange land, reenvisioning familiar things in elaborate metaphorical language. (The car in Raine’s “Postcard” is, e.g., “a room with the lock inside—/a key is turned to free the world/for movement.”) Martin Amis was a champion (and anagram) of Martianism, prizing its penetrating gaze and its disdain for cliché, and it is Amis’s Money, a somewhat Martianistic take on 1980s New York City, that comes to mind when one reads Choire Sicha’s Very Recent History: An Entirely Factual Account of a Year (c.
CHILL YOUR BONES
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STRIKE A POSE
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Author Barbara Park Dies
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