Staff Picks: Anne Roiphe, Fanny Howe, Now’ruz


This Week’s Reading

Katie and Anne Roiphe.

Two nights ago, in one long fit of insomnia, I read Anne Roiphe’s memoir of midcentury Paris Review shenanigans, Art and Madness. —Lorin Stein

At night, I have been switching between Fanny Howe’s new collection of poems, Come and See, and David Orr’s Beautiful and Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry. Howe is plainspoken, serious, visionary; Orr is companionable, smart, fun. Last night I dreamed they were having a conversation, but this morning I can’t remember what either one said. —Robyn Creswell

I liked Charlotte Silver’s Modern Love essay from a few weeks ago, about a young couple obsessed with the romantic rituals from the fifties. —Thessaly La Force

This week is Now’ruz, the Iranian New Year, and I’ll be celebrating on Sunday by trying to synchronize a tricontinental diasporic Skype chat with relatives and friends. For now, the least heart-breaking way into Iranian culture is the cooking, and there’s no better introduction to that than Margaret Shaida’s classic, The Legendary Cuisine of Persia. Of course, on the day itself, I wouldn’t dream of eating anything other than the customary sabzi polo mahi, but I’ve always been drawn to Shaida’s description of the koofteh Tabrizi, an immense meat dumpling that encases an entire stuffed chicken. Before the advent of the food processor, “considerable strength and stamina were required to pound the ingredients together into an adhesive mixture. One lady from Tabriz told me to knead the mixture until my arms fell out.” —Jonathan Gharraie

I don’t know if it was the mid-performance cover of “Sweet Dreams are Made of You” or the presence of a mariachi band in a Shakespeare play, but seeing The Comedy of Errors at BAM last night was a novel experience. Antipholus of Syracuse and Antipholus of Ephesus ran around dressed in matching head-to-toe gummy purple, and the rest of the all-male cast is similarly involved in crazed antics and garish attire. I recommend it. —Rosalind Parry