Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 1:47 pm
The war in Bosnia left Sarajevo ruined by siege scars. Aleksandar Hemon describes in his new memoir how "the streets were fractured by mortar-shell marks — lines radiating from a little crater at the point of impact." But he notes that those holes were later "filled out with red paint" and that "the people of Sarajevo now, incredibly, called [them] 'roses.' "
The same could be said about the essays that make up The Book of My Lives, Hemon's first book of nonfiction, a collection of thorned, blood-red roses that make beauty out of his broken past.
Originally published on Sun March 24, 2013 8:18 am
Every American president since Harry Truman has wrestled with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to no avail. Yet they keep trying based on the notion that the Middle East will never be calm until there's peace between these protagonists.
But as President Obama heads to Israel and the West Bank, expectations could hardly be lower. What's more, this long-standing feud, often seen as the holy grail of American diplomacy, no longer seems to hold the same urgency, according to many analysts.
In Chinua Achebe's novel The Anthills of the Savannah, one of the characters says, "Poets don't give prescriptions. They give headaches."
The same is true of novelists, and none more so than Philip Roth. If any writer has ever enjoyed rattling people's skulls, it's this son of Newark, N.J., who's currently enjoying something of a victory lap in the media on the occasion of his 80th birthday. The celebration reaches its peak with a new documentary — Philip Roth Unmasked — that will screen on PBS next week as part of the American Masters series.
Anaïs Mitchell has a knack for mythology that flies over the heads of most modern songwriters. From her adaptation of the Orpheus myth on Hadestown — an arresting "folk opera" wherein Orpheus and Eurydice struggle through a post-apocalyptic economic depression — to the nuanced interweaving of Biblical and Greek mythology in last year's Young Man in America, she's proven adept at mingling the ancient and the contemporary.
Originally published on Wed March 20, 2013 12:59 pm
If the idea of sharing your personal medical troubles with your doctor and a bunch of total strangers gives you sweaty palms, you're not alone.
Yet, a growing number of people are swallowing hard and doing it. Along the way, they're discovering that they can get more time with the doctor and learn a few things from their fellow patients by forgoing a one-on-one appointment for a group medical visit.