For a while I have been thinking about writing a column about Michel Houellebecq. I was going to talk about how I came to Houellebecq’s work while working as an intern at a French magazine that ran GQ-ish features and creatively softcore photos of women. I was going to tie together something about voyeurism and objectification, both in Houellebecq’s novels and in my life at the time. To wrap up I was going to mention a party I attended a […]
One long weekend, a few months after I had turned 21, my best friend and I took a trip. We wanted to see a lake or a forest, maybe some needlepoint hanging on a wall. We drove for a long time, crossing bridges that all looked the same. At one point, on a Massachusetts radio station we recognized a very recognizable song, and my friend asked me not to change it. I was surprised; usually we listened to much cooler […]
My dad once pointed out an inconsequential part of Charade, the Stanley Donen film. It’s a piece of interstitial dialogue between two characters we never see. George Kennedy, with a hook for a hand, has ransacked Audrey Hepburn’s Parisian hotel room, and Cary Grant goes out the window to find him. Grant passes a neighboring room’s window, and a woman screams.
I run into a friend at a Christmas party in a very warm apartment. He and I eat cheese by the open window. We talk about work, and this leads to us talking, for some reason, about Renata Adler. “You know,” he says, “there is a great Renata anecdote in the Daniel Menaker memoir about his time at The New Yorker. Menaker talks about how she reported that a hospital was bombed, but not only could they not confirm the […]
I don’t understand people who don’t like to go to the movies alone. I try to do it as much as possible. To explain why I like it so much, I would have to make a list of every time it has made me feel better (or, more accurately, made me feel something instead of something else), and that would be a very long list, a maddeningly digressive list that would have no argument or arc, no single thread or […]
When we talk about other people, my friend Leah and I divide them into two categories: some people are drains, and some are radiators. We do not think, of course, that anyone can be one thing for all people, and we do not assume, of course, total innocence, recognizing that we have been drains ourselves in our most unattractive moments. This method is as helpful as it is limited. But it has become useful shorthand for describing how someone is […]
Once I purchased a miniature notepad whose cover is embossed with the words “A List of Things I Will Eventually Do In Specific Order.” It’s a hip-looking organizational tool, yet I have filled only the first page. Still, despite repeat evidence that I’m not stellar at following through on list-making, in my mind I continue scrawling on those brown post-consumer sheets of paper. Metaphorically, I have covered them with vows of self-discipline, all composed in the prose style of pioneering […]
Over dinner after drinks, my friend and I eavesdrop and happen to hear two women talking about books. One of them summarizes The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. as “all set in Brooklyn.” My friend and I make faces at each other and keep listening. Other books are brought up, but none of their selling points seem to us as crushing as the first. “All set in Brooklyn.” “I have to read that” was the response, in case you didn’t […]