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Posts Tagged ‘Freedom’

Emancipation Carbonation

March 28, 2014 | by

diet coke

A still from the famous “Diet Coke Break” ad, 1996.

The typo of the day, from a story in the Atlanta Business Chronicle

Just one month after Diet Coke rolled out the first frozen carbonated beverage in the brand’s 31-year history, the product—Diet Coke FROST Cherry Slurpee—has been removed from stores because it did not free properly.

Lesson learned: brain freeze does not bring deliverance, even when it comes from a refreshing Diet Coke.

 

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Job Aspirations; Forgiveness

May 4, 2012 | by

I am a student interested in working for The Paris Review one day. What steps would you recommend to get there?

Read lots. That’s the main thing. And not just the books they assign you in class. The Daily gives you a pretty good idea of what books and articles we’re reading; at the very least you'll have something to talk about in the interview. (You should read The Paris Review. Maybe this goes without saying.)

Learn to write. I don’t mean “creative” writing, I mean short-form journalism. If your school has a good student newspaper, sign up. Or start sending pitches to your favorite magazines. The main thing is to write for an editor who can help you improve—tightening sentences, taking yourself out of the picture when you don’t belong, that kind of thing. Being able to write short, competent reports is a surprisingly useful skill—and one that we value here.

Bump one of us off. The Review has only six full-time employees, so job openings are rare. But we do accept new (unpaid) interns every season: click here for more information on how to apply.

We’re honored by your interest!

I’m working on a character who is trying to figure out secrets in his family and still hold it intact … I've been reading Albert Camus’s The Fall and loving it, but wondered if you might have any other suggestions for literature dealing with themes of forgiveness to help out with some inspiration?
Much Obliged

Dear Obliged,

The first title that pops into my head is Anthony Trollope’s Can You Forgive Her? Then I hear Henry James: “Yes, and forget her, too.” James wrote lots of novels about forgiveness. The Wings of the Dove, which I have never made it through, The Ambassadors, The Portrait of a Lady, and The Altar of the Dead all turn on acts of forgiveness. If your subject is forgiveness in marriage, you may be inspired by Norman Rush’s Mortals or Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead or Jane Smiley’s The Age of Grief. Then there are Jonathan Franzen’s last two novels, Freedom and The Corrections. Forgiveness is a big subject in Franzen’s work, though critics don’'t often point it out. The Corrections is less about marital forgiveness, more about how hard it can be to forgive one’s parents and kids. Elena Ferrante’s Days of Abandonment has to do with forgiveness in divorce. D. H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers has to do with forgiveness between mothers and sons; Geoff Dyer’s Out of Sheer Rage has to do with forgiveness between Geoff and D. H. Lawrence ... For some reason everywhere I turn today, I see people asking to be forgiven and trying to forgive. Maybe you can’t go wrong.

Have a question for the editors of The Paris Review? E-mail us.

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Isolation; Being in a Band

December 9, 2011 | by

This week our friend Sasha Frere-Jones was kind enough to share his good counsel. By day, Sasha is the pop critic for The New Yorker, and by night he is a member of the bands Calvinist and Piñata. By day or night, he gives darn good advice.

My family members are music lovers. They are obsessed with rare albums (dad), Internet radio (older brother), and attending live performances (mom; anything “spiritual” or classical). I’m done giving them novels because they don’t read them. Can you recommend any books for the music enthusiast’s library, or, even better, DVDs?

Both volumes of the The Old Grey Whistle Test DVD collection are fantastic. It’s all pop music from the seventies, played live and immaculately filmed for the BBC. I have no idea where the BBC got such fancy, high-res cameras: the footage looks a decade ahead of whatever the Americans were producing. The performances are uniformly great. (If these linked clips of Bill Withers performing “Ain’t No Sunshine” and Talking Heads playing “Psycho Killer” don’t move you, I’m out of DVD ideas.) As for books, Christopher Small’s Musicking is appropriate for any music lover, irrelevant of preferred genre. Small’s openness and attention to the social aspects of music are unmatched by any other music writer.

What’s your opinion on job-interview etiquette? Is it sufficient to send thank-you e-mails? The handwritten note seems to me a thoughtful gesture, but it takes a day or so to arrive. Is it overkill to send the e-mail, as well as the old-fashioned note?

The handwritten note is a red flag; it’s really only a charming move when the two parties already know each other. A brief, cheerful e-mail is best. Nothing startles like an e-mail that blooms open into several screens’ worth of type. I have not hired people on the basis of e-mail length, as it usually corresponds to loopy behavior (as do multiple e-mails sent within the space of an hour).

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A Week in Culture: Radhika Jones, Editor

September 1, 2010 | by

DAY ONE

MORNING Tea1 and the NYT Editor's Choice on the iPad. Morning commute: F train, relatively uncrowded because it's the end of August. Reading survey reveals it's a periodical-dominated morning: the Times, the WSJ, the Metro, the Post, and two people facing off with The New Yorker. I pull out my advanced reader's copy of Skippy Dies, which I am in the middle of, and which is so absorbing2 that I need to be careful not to miss my stop.

Second cup of tea steeping in office kitchen. Delightful news via memo left under my door: from now on, the motion-sensor light in my office will only come on if I push it. I hate the fluorescent light, but until now have been powerless to disengage it. Now I will just never turn it on!

Wake up computer and look at Time.com to see what my colleagues have been up to overnight. Also look at the NYTimes Web site, and the Guardian, and Talking Points Memo. And a few book blogs, an old Paris Review habit I've reignited in these slightly news-slow summer months—which is how I come across the sad story of the death of VQR's managing editor.

On deck for this morning: signing off on finished magazine pages; ideas meeting; edits for next week. Also opening all the mail that has piled up in the last few weeks. I should open my mail every day. Then it would not pile up. I know that, but sometimes I rebel3, and this time it has gotten so bad that random colleagues have begun stopping by my office and offering to help me open it. I am the office Collyer Brother.

Morning meeting over. Half an hour until next meeting. Office gloriously unfluorescent. Work takes on low-lit, romantic flavor.

E-mail from my brother wondering which Scrabble app he should download so we can play together. I want to play with him, but he lives in Andover, Mass., so if we are to play, I will have to join Facebook4.

Open InCopy. I love InCopy. It lets me work in layout, and secretly I've always wanted to be a graphic designer. This reminds me that I never saw that documentary Helvetica, all about the font. Turn on iPad and add Helvetica to Netflix queue. It's available for instant viewing! Maybe I will watch it this weekend.

Meetings meetings meetings. Lunch!

AFTERNOON Back at my desk after Italian food and a lovely chat with an entertainment publicist who fills me in on a few fall movies. Caitlin Roper (of Paris Review fame) alerts me to a tweet from Bill Burton saying the President just bought a copy of Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. I'm going to go ahead and assume that's because we put Franzen on the cover of Time. President Obama, if you need any more book recommendations, feel free to call me directly. I think you'd really like David Mitchell.

Heroically refrain from reading Skippy Dies during multicolor wheel spin while waiting for InCopy file to open.

Culturally with-it colleague Gilbert Cruz drops by, ostensibly with a work question but actually to recommend I watch the Free Willy horror movie recut on YouTube. It's fantastic. Then we watch The Shining recut as romantic comedy. Then, because I am a Harry Potter fan, I must read "Harry Potter and the Prisoners of Gitmo" on time.com, about the books on offer for Guantanamo detainees.

Call neighborhood bookstore, BookCourt on Court Street, to see about the first Paul Murray book. They don't have it, alas. Meanwhile, twilight is coming on, and it's kind of dark in here. May need to buy an office lamp.

LATER Writing headlines is hard.

LATER STILL I'm done for the day. Skippy and I are reunited!

EVENING Friday nights were made for catching up on Top Chef. Life before DVR—I've blocked it from my memory. Read More »

Annotations

  1. P.G. Tips, half teaspoon sugar, half teaspoon honey, splash of milk.
  2. It's Paul Murray's second novel, out August 31 in the U.S., and I am going to review it for Time.
  3. Against myself? The post office? All the publishers who put out books and mail them to me?
  4. I didn't join at the beginning, and then I missed the second through eighth waves of enthusiasm and proselytizing. I figured I would just continue blithely through life, Facebook-free, forgetting people's birthdays. But now… Scrabble. Will it be my downfall? This is one of those luxurious dilemmas we face in the developed world.

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A Week in Culture: Eric Banks, Part 2

August 26, 2010 | by

This is the second installment of Banks' culture diary. Click here to read part 1.


DAY FOUR

12:30 P.M. I put in a few bets in advance on the Saratoga card and head for the eye doctor to get new lenses for my glasses (which would have been a boon to have in place before the trip to Philadelphia and DC). I’ll be lens-less for a half hour or so but I print out anyway a Guardian article by Tom McCarthy on “technology and the novel” that I want to read after finishing C. The book had already dashed my fears that post-Remainder McCarthy had turned art-world prankster at best, experimentalist court jester at worst. The profile’s a funny and smart piece when I squint over it an hour later. C begins at a turn-of-the-century school for the deaf with the burial of the protagonist’s sister while the dead girl’s father, a wireless communications buff, wants to rig the bier with a device so that she might signal if she’s not really dead. McCarthy mentions an anecdote about Alexander Graham Bell—his father also ran a school for the deaf, he also had a brother who died, and Alexander entered into a promise with his surviving sibling (who died early as well) that should either of them succomb, the other would create a device to receive transmissions from beyond the grave. He probably would have invented the telephone anyway, of course, and “remained a skeptic and a rationalist throughout his life—but only because his brothers never called: the desire was there.” I’m not sure I buy it, but C makes me feel like I should.

3:30 P.M. Get back home after picking up the new glasses, and I’m glad I read the essay while I waited for them—the replacement lenses make me feel like I’m seeing the world through a goldfish bowl, and I get a terrible headache as a result. Plus, I lost my bets. In the mail is the new Jonathan Franzen which I put off reading with my funky vision. It’ll have to wait until next week, which means I’ll have to make up a bunch of lies if anybody asks me what I think of it. I’d rather bullshit my way through than face the guilt that I won’t actually turn to it until I’m on vacation.

8:00 P.M. Head is still throbbing so I cancel plans to go see the Tilda Swinton flick I Am Love (the only film it seems anybody’s talking about these days) and turn on The Wild One on TMC instead. I feel like I’ve seen it a million times but this seems like the first time I’ve noticed the actor who plays one of Lee Marvin’s sidekicks—who is that guy? A quick IMDB check turns up Timothy Carey—his face is familiar because he plays the racist psychopath in Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing who shoots a horse, Red Lightning, during a stakes race, setting off the racetrack heist. Man, where have I been? I make a note to rent Carey’s only directorial effort, The World’s Greatest Sinner, where he plays a crazed rock n’ roller who turns into a Jimmy Swaggert–style evangelist and is struck down by God Himself in the final scene.
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We’ve Got Freedom On Our Minds

August 23, 2010 | by

Lorin will be guest blogging this week over at The Atlantic for Ta-Nehisi Coates. We'll be reading, and hope you will too. Today, in his first post, he tackles the hubbub surrounding Jonathan Franzen's new novel, Freedom, and the magic of discovery for literary fiction:

But already, in the first mini-backlash against the book—or really, against the all the attention it's received—we hear it implied that fiction should restrict itself to entertainment or fade into obscurity: that critics should spend more time celebrating mass-market novels because they're what the people "actually" want. This fake populism pretends to speak for women (as if women weren't the overwhelming consumers of serious fiction, whether written by women or men). Really it's the logic of the Hollywood blockbuster machine.

Unfortunately, you find the same logic at work all over publishing today. Without a complex network of local bookstores and local reviewers, more and more houses see the blockbuster as their only viable business plan. They spend vast amounts signing up and promoting books that seem written to spec. That model is great if you're publishing mysteries, or vampire books, or chick lit, or books about Founding Fathers. A good formula, well executed, can be a beautiful (and profitable) thing.

But for literary fiction, the fiction of discovery, formulas are death. In my 12 years at FSG, we saw publishers lose millions every season trying to corner the market on the Big New (preferably Young) Literary Sensation. Meanwhile really tricky, idiosyncratic writers—Lydia Davis, Denis Johnson, Elif Batuman, Richard Price, Sam Lipsyte, Roberto Bolano, James Wood, Hans Keilson—confounded even the most charitable expectations of the chains, and went through one printing after another. Now Franzen seems poised to do the same thing on a much, much bigger scale.

I name these particular authors, all published by FSG, only because I was there when it happened: I know for a fact no magic was involved. The books succeeded because critics kept yelling eureka (and because some resilient booksellers, like that clerk at Cluster of Grapes, kept putting them in customers' hands). These books may never have cornered any market. That wasn't the point. They found the readers who needed them. Each became a few thousand people's favorite book.

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