The 2014 National Book Award Longlist for Nonfiction is an eclectic selection of histories, philosophy, reportage, and a graphic memoir.
Roz Chast, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Bloomsbury)
John Demos, The Heathen School: A Story of Hope and Betrayal in the Age of the Early Republic
(Alfred A. Knopf/ Random House)
Anand Gopal, No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes
(Metropolitan Books/ Henry Holt and Company)
Nigel Hamilton, The Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941 - 1942 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Walter Isaacson, The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (Simon & Schuster)
John Lahr, Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh (W.W. Norton & Company)
Evan Osnos, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Ronald C. Rosbottom, When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation, 1940-1944
(Little, Brown and Company/ Hachette Book Group)
Matthew Stewart, Nature’s God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic (W.W. Norton & Company)
Edward O. Wilson, The Meaning of Human Existence
(Liveright Publishing Corporation/ W.W. Norton & Company)
Hope to see you there!
A gentle reminder!
In just 35 days I will be in Atlantic City for my sister’s bachelorette festivities. To get myself in the mood for this (or, honestly, be even remotely interested) I will be watching ‘casino films’ from now until I leave. First up, Casino Royale (2006). Because I just thought of this concept about 15 minutes ago and I only own two films that deal (haha) primarily in casinos. So it was this or Vegas Vacation (1997), which will probably come next.
I have a decent-sized queue, but, suggestions? Recommendations?
If you’re like me, then you’re still pondering Grantland’s SNL bracket challenge and are marveled (yet also not) by the fact that we got to a place where Phil Hartman was in the finals against Will Ferrell. And in this fallout you’ve been considering Phil Hartman a lot. And missing him.
Enter Mike Thomas’s You Might Remember Me: The Life and Times of Phil Hartman.
I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about tennis, specifically, trying to decide who my favorite Frenchman is. This photo makes it virtually impossible. They’re all there, they’re all wonderful.
The dazzling sun cleared his head a little, and by the time they were in a cab his sense of time had stabilized, but he was still so thoroughly suspended in the warm glow of the drugs that he experienced the sudden starting and stopping of the taxi while they inched their way east as a gentle rocking motion. He felt no pain, and only the awareness that his tongue was numb was vaguely uncomfortable, reminding him of the wounds packed with gauze. Had Liza been talking this whole time? He turned and faced her as they merged onto the FDR Drive, and she looked beautiful, her arms raised to pull her light brown hair into a ponytail; he watched her chest rise and fall as she breathed, saw the thin gold necklace she always wore against her perfect collarbone. Then without transition he was looking at the skyline of lower Manhattan, the buildings growing larger and more detailed as the taxi approached, though he was not aware of moving. Then he was aware of moving at an impossibly smooth rate, and there was the Brooklyn Bridge, cablework sparkling. Liza was cursing at the little touch-screen television in the taxi, which she couldn’t seem to turn off, and he reached out a hand to help her and experienced contact with the glass as a marvel, like encountering solidified, sensate air. Then he was smoothing her hair back and she was laughing at this uncharacteristic intimacy, something he’d done only a few times in their six years. Now the view again, and it occurred to him with the force of a revelation:
I won’t remember this. This is the most beautiful view of the city I have ever seen, the most perfect experience of touch and speed, I’ve never felt so close to Liza, and I won’t remember it; the drugs will erase it. And then, glowing with the aura of imminent disappearance, it really was the most beautiful view, experience. He wanted badly to describe this situation to Liza but couldn’t: his tongue was still numb; he couldn’t even ask her to remind him of what the drugs would erase. While he was distantly aware that Liza would tease him for it later, that he was being ridiculous, he felt tears start in his eyes as they merged onto the bridge and he watched the play of late October sunlight on the water. That he would form no memory of what he observed and could not record it in any language lent it a fullness, made it briefly identical to itself, and he was deeply moved to think this experience of presence depended upon its obliteration. Then he was in his apartment; Liza gave him a couple of pills, put him to bed, and left.
He woke around midnight and felt like himself. His jaw ached a little. He pissed, changed the russet-colored, saturated gauze, and took another painkiller with a full glass of water. He texted Liza and also Josh, who had asked how it all went. He smiled at how much time he’d wasted ruminating about the extractions; it was nothing. He streamed an episode of The Wire on his laptop and fell asleep.
When he got out of bed late the next morning and had his coffee—iced so as not to disrupt the clotting—he realized: I do remember the drive, the view, stroking Liza’s hair, the incommunicable beauty destined to disappear. I remember it, which means it never happened.
Ben Lerner’s 10:04