William Finnegan on Surfing, Obsession, and Beauty in 'Barbarian Days'

William Finnegan knows surfing. He also knows traveling, reporting, writing, reading, growing, and living. In his latest book, the memoir Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, Finnegan touches on all of these things, and manages to do so in a way that is fluid and poetic, but not precious nor sentimental. Barbarian Days is… » 7/21/15 9:44am 7/21/15 9:44am

Top 5 for the $10: Lady Scientists Who Should Grace American Currency

Beginning with the 2020 print run, the ten dollar bill will boast a new face — the first woman on paper currency since Martha Washington and Pocahontas graced nineteenth-century notes. Alongside the bust of Alexander Hamilton — creative ways to keep him around are in the works — will go a still-unchosen woman who will… » 7/09/15 3:35pm 7/09/15 3:35pm

One Fail at a Time: Learning to Parent through Sports

This Sunday, Josh Wilker, 47, will be celebrating Father’s Day with wife Abby, their two sons ages almost-four and one, and his brand new baby, Benchwarmer: A Sports-Obsessed Memoir of Fatherhood. In Benchwarmer, Wilker tries to cope with the first year of his eldest son Jack’s life, through the lens of both… » 6/25/15 4:09pm 6/25/15 4:09pm

The Gloves Come Off: Cuba, Boxing, and Decades of Cultural Change

“If the Cuba story is about anything…it’s about the separation of families. For the last fifty years we’ve seen this tug-of-war that has just torn families apart and plays out every day, in virtually every Cuban household.”
» 6/18/15 3:04pm 6/18/15 3:04pm

Farting Around on Film: Kurt Vonnegut's On-Screen Legacy 

The late science fiction satirist Kurt Vonnegut has been gone for eight years, but his work is hotter than ever. With the recent news of a television adaptation of his 1963 novelCat’s Cradle and a documentary on the way, we take a look back at the author’s legacy in film. » 6/05/15 2:20pm 6/05/15 2:20pm

More than Presidents’ Wives: The Costs of Being First Lady

Being First Lady is no easy or enviable task. For decades, wives and female relatives of our commanders-in-chief have drifted in and out of the shadows cast by the presidential role. Relegated to a secondary status but still urged to use their role and influence for the betterment of their nation, First Ladies walk a… » 5/01/15 9:48am 5/01/15 9:48am

Origin Stories: Chris McDougall on the Greek Ideal of Heroism

When Christopher McDougall wrote his first book, Born to Run, he didn’t know what to expect. A hybrid travelogue, adventure story, cultural study, and self-help manual, it was a quirky, hard-to-classify book. He certainly didn’t expect it to become a best-seller that would inspire thousands of runners to throw away… » 4/22/15 1:19pm 4/22/15 1:19pm

Dan Jenkins Has a Heavy Dose of Opinion on Golf, Twitter, and Tiger

Come the first week of April, writer Dan Jenkins will be at the Augusta National Golf Club covering the Masters. It will be his sixty-fifth visit to the major tournament, a world record that will stand the test of time like Jack Nicklaus winning the 1986 Masters at the ripe old age of forty-six. Jenkins is as bedrock… » 3/23/15 2:53pm 3/23/15 2:53pm

As My Dad Says: Beer, Juggalos, and Twenty-First-Century Manhood 

If one was tasked with selecting one man as the archetype of the macho, fearless, self-sufficient, plays-by-his-own-rules American male, Daniel Boone would be right near the top. He was a pioneer, frontiersman, explorer, and soldier, and has been called the "founding father of westward expansion." Boone homesteaded,… » 3/18/15 1:05pm 3/18/15 1:05pm

Out of Dad’s Shadow: 5 Brilliant Daughters of Famous Fathers

She translated the first English version of Madame Bovary. She learned Norwegian so she could better understand the work of Ibsen. She went on strike with dock workers, organized labor unions, and founded the Socialist League. She was a writer, an activist, an actress, a suffragist, and a journalist. Her name is not… » 2/25/15 2:14pm 2/25/15 2:14pm

Unstuck in Time with Bob Weide, Kurt Vonnegut’s Documentarian

In 1982, a young go-getter by the name of Robert Weide randomly typed a note to his literary hero. In it, the 22-year-old Weide mentioned that he had written and produced the documentary "The Marx Brothers in a Nutshell," which had recently been the highest-rated program in the history of PBS, and that he was hoping… » 2/18/15 12:13pm 2/18/15 12:13pm

Life in Literature: The Real Murder that Inspired ‘The Great Gatsby’

Who killed Jay Gatsby? Or at least, what inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald to kill him? In Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of 'The Great Gatsby', author Sarah Churchwell suggests Fitzgerald was influenced by two real-life murders. » 2/03/15 3:41pm 2/03/15 3:41pm

(Mis)Quoth Poe Nevermore: 5 Funny Edgar Allan Poe Misattributions

This week — January 19, 2015 to be exact — marks the 206th birthday of Edgar Allan Poe, one of the most recognizable names in Western literature. Poe, a jack of all writing trades, is best known as the master of the macabre, with stories like The Pit and the Pendulum, The Mask of the Red Death, and The Tell-Tale Heart » 1/22/15 2:43pm 1/22/15 2:43pm

Pendulums, Clepsydras, and Such: A Brief History of Telling Time

New Year's Eve: the night we celebrate time. We count off the last ten seconds of the soon-to-be-last year while the ball drops to midnight, then dance into the new one reaching unhurriedly into the future. And in that stroke of midnight there is a myriad of tacit agreements, for time the concept would be hard to… » 1/13/15 12:52pm 1/13/15 12:52pm

Man, Myth, Legend: David Letterman and the End of a Late Night Era

A couple of weeks ago, I trekked into Times Square on a gloomy Thursday to pay homage to the king one last time. I was eleven when Dave took the spot after Johnny Carson, not quite old enough to watch it every night — and we wouldn't own a VCR to tape it for a few more years — but at an age where I caught it… » 12/23/14 11:15am 12/23/14 11:15am

Back to the Future: The Eerily Accurate Predictions of J.G. Ballard

This, above all else: beware the boring future. There are plenty of lessons to be learned from reading Extreme Metaphors: Interviews With J.G. Ballard 1967-2008, but this is the big one, something at which observers of technology and readers of science fiction will shudder with recognition. As befits a writer whose… » 12/09/14 10:58pm 12/09/14 10:58pm

On Their Own Terms: 6 Rockin’ Ladies Who Altered Music History

It is tempting to write about the many famous all-male punk bands that Viv Albertine's band, The Slits, influenced and inspired. Many reviewers, writing about her new memoir, Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys have been unable to resist that temptation. But isn't the message of so many… » 12/01/14 11:47am 12/01/14 11:47am

Baseball Penman Roger Angell on Derek Jeter, Aging, and Love

Come late afternoon this Sunday, after twenty years of playing shortstop for the New York Yankees, Derek Jeter will walk off the field to a hellacious ovation. Yes, even in Boston's Fenway Park, where his cleats will drag across the infield dirt one last time. Where does Jeter rank among the Yankee greats? Well, the… » 9/25/14 9:49am 9/25/14 9:49am