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This Week's Reading

Staff Picks: Literary Video Games, Return of ‘Spy’ Magazine

February 18, 2011 | by

The other evening at East Village Books I picked up a used copy of Dawn Powell’s 1936 novel, Turn, Magic Wheel, stopped at Second Avenue and Seventh, and settled in to the opening scene ... only to realize that I’d been walking in the footsteps of the writer-hero, Dennis Orphen—and that he, too, had just come to a halt at Second and Seventh. I half expected him to walk in the door. Powell has a way of collapsing the decades between one literary New York and another. Orphen’s sin, to have used a friend as material, is as old as his profession and feels as fresh as Thursday night. —Lorin Stein

I’ve been playing a lost Nintendo video game that was supposedly found at a yard sale and purchased for fifty cents. (In fact, it was recently created by San Francisco-based developer Charlie Hoey.) Why the mention? It’s modeled after The Great Gatsby. Says the Web site: “You’re not in the middle west anymore, son. Welcome to the Wild West Egg.” The Atlantic writes, “At least now we know why Gatsby couldn’t make it to the blinking green light: Sand Crabs.” —Sam Dolph

It seemed like a good idea at the time: the full publication archive of Spy magazine is now available via Google Books. —David Wallace-Wells

I’ve been thumbing through the pages of Lauren Redniss’s Radioactive, an illustrated biography about Marie and Pierre Curie. There’s a show of the book currently at the New York Public Library (where Redniss did much of her research as a Cullman fellow). Not long ago, Dwight Garner praised the book in the Times, saying, “Her people have elongated faces and pale forms; they’re etiolated Modiglianis. They populate a Paris that’s become a dream city.” Spooky and beautiful—Redniss’s work is worth taking a look. —Thessaly La Force

“I felt as though I were playing a one-sided match against a phantasm”: Gary Kasparov wrestles with the ghost of Bobby Fischer. —D. W. W.

Meanwhile, Ken Jennings talks about playing Jeopardy with IBM’s latest Deep Blue, Watson: “There’s no shame in losing to silicon.” —T. L.


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