Rex by Jose Manuel Prieto
Puttin' on the Glitz
A review by Natasha Wimmer
Though not advertised as such in the United States, Jose Manuel Prieto's Rex is actually the third volume in a trilogy that begins with the as-yet-untranslated Enciclopedia de una vida en Rusia (Encyclopedia of a Life in Russia) and also includes the acclaimed Nocturnal Butterflies of the Russian Empire (Prieto's first novel published in English, in 2000). Prieto, who was born in Cuba in 1962 and spent twelve years in Russia, where he studied engineering, is a writer who ascribes great seriousness to ideas, as befits someone who grew up in a system steeped in ideology. Among many other things,...
Ulysses (Vintage International) by James Joyce
A review by Edmund Wilson Jr.
[Editor's Note: This review of Ulysses by Edmund Wilson Jr. was originally published in the July 5, 1922, issue of the New Republic.]
On the 16th of June, 1904, Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom were both living in Dublin. Both differed from the people about them and walked in isolation among them because each was, according to his capacity, an intellectual adventurer — Dedalus, the poet and philosopher, with a mind full of beautiful images and abstruse speculations and Bloom, the advertisement canvasser, in a more rudimentary fashion. In the evening, Mr. Bloom and Dedalus became involved...
The Social Life of Information by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid
They're Micromanaging Your Every Move
A review by Simon Head
The digital revolution of the 1990s seemed to mark a definitive break with the manufacturing economy that had thrived in the United States since the late-nineteenth century. With the pervasive use of information technology (IT) by banks, insurance companies, hospitals, clinics, even warehouses and retail stores, the era of industrial mass production in the United States faded into the past. Also redundant were the blue-collar workers who had manned the old assembly lines. With 80 percent of the American workforce now employed in white-collar service industries, economists assumed that there...
The House in Good Taste by Elsie De Wolfe
A review by Terry Castle
The late Mario Praz -- dandy, scholar, eccentric chronicler of interior- decorating styles through the ages -- once observed that human beings could be divided into those who cared about such things and those who didn't. An avid, even ensorcelled member of the first group, he confessed to finding people who were indifferent to décor both baffling and somewhat sinister. To discover that a friend was content to dwell in "fundamental and systematic ugliness," he wrote in An Illustrated History of Interior Decoration: From Pompeii to Art Nouveau, was as disturbing as "turning over one of those...
The Culture of Flushing: A Social and Legal History of Sewage by Jamie Benidickson
A review by Christopher Hamlin
Grannie used to say she was going out to the euphemism to euphemize. She meant the 1915-era summerhouse privy built on a granite ledge in Maine. To a child raised with water closets, as I had been, the span of the hole seemed dangerously wide and the pit below dark and bottomless. But the smell was bad only by association, and it was light enough inside the privy to peruse the old New Yorker covers that papered its walls. Yet why had it been built as a two-holer? Closeness in our extended family did not extend to companionable excretion with cousins or elders. But the privy was (and is) a...
The Docks by Bill Sharpsteen
A review by John Pattison
One of the peculiarities of our high-tech society is that much of what sustains it is invisible or simply unnoticed by most of us most of the time. We flick a switch and the lights come on. We drive to the supermarket and find the shelves stocked to overflowing. How all this is made possible doesn't usually rate a second's thought.
The Port of Los Angeles and nearby Port of Long Beach are enormous and complex operations with a simple goal: to import and export (mostly import) vast amounts of stuff as efficiently and effectively as possible. Sprawling across 10,700 acres of Southern...