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This Week’s Reading

Staff Picks: Food Rules, the American Dream

October 28, 2011 | by

I turned to a former history professor of mine, Niall Ferguson, for some interesting thoughts on Wall Street: “The American Dream is about social mobility, not enforced equality.” —Natalie Jacoby

Michael Pollan’s wildly informative Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual gets an update, with new rules as well as illustrations by Maira Kalman. —Jessica Calderon

What better way to get your Halloween thrills this weekend than with the Bernard Herrmann double features at Film Forum? His marvelously affecting scores were instrumental in making movies like Psycho, The Birds, and Vertigo so atmospheric and disturbing. —Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn

I’ve been thinking about Galicia lately, what with Andrzej Stasiuk’s Dukla having just been released by Dalkey Archive, so it was a nice surprise to come across Timothy Snyder’s fascinating history of the region in the latest New York Review of Books. Nicole Rudick

Ever since I began patronizing NYC’s Treats Truck, I have been curious about the secret of their scrumptious Butterscotch Pecan Bar. Imagine my delight, then, when I learned they are releasing a cookbook! I’ve preordered my copy, and the office will doubtless reap the rewards. —Sadie Stein

This week I reread Allen Ginsberg’s 1966 interview in The Paris Review and found myself wandering back to the excellent recording of his poem “America” at the Poetry Archive. —Emma Gallwey

A friend gave me Anna Solomon’s The Little Bride and I haven’t been able to put it down. It’s the story of a Russian mail-order bride who ends up in the American West with a rigidly Orthodox husband—but really, that’s just scratching the surface. Last week, we fielded an advice question from a woman wondering about “good reads” that also had literary merit—I wish I’d finished this one at the time, as it matches that description perfectly. —S.S.

George Saunders’s “Tenth of December” in this week’s New Yorker is not to be missed. Who else can make you laugh so much in a story about a kid who tortures animals for fun and a suicidal cancer patient? —Artie Niederhoffer



  1. August | October 28, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Natalie–The ideas Niall Ferguson endorses are what Diane Ravitch and others have called corporate education reform. I’d encourage you to read Ravitch’s critique of this issue in the NY Review of Books:
    What Wall Street likes about charter schools most is the union-busting part. There is no research evidence that charter schools are closing the achievement gap.

  2. Natalie Jacoby | October 28, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Thank you, August! As is perhaps noticeable, I tend to be drawn to some unorthodox political opinions, but many thanks for pointing me in the direction Ravitch’s critique! Looking forward to some more insight on the subject.

  3. Joe Carlson | October 28, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Bernie would have a fit worthy of Norman Bates or Charles Foster Kane: his last name is spelled with two r’s: Herr-mann.

  4. Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn | October 28, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Dear Joe, Thanks for catching our typo!

  5. Clayton Peacock | October 29, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Emma, it’s great to see a resurgence of folks going back to Allen Ginsberg. I recently re-read his pair of City Press books from the late 60s & early 70s – Planet News and The Fall of America – and was astonished at how contemporary he feels.

  6. Peter MacRaild | August 10, 2013 at 1:51 am

    That “American Dream” from a less right-wing perspective:

    “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as
    an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

    – John Steinbeck

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