Nonfiction

412: Mary Norris

When Homer refers to the “wine-dark sea,” does he mean red, white, or rosé? He intends no color whatever, asserts the author of Greek to Me, who offers an ingenious alternative. Wine and the Greeks: in the ancient world, the modern world, the world of mythology. Presented with The Neal Rosenthal Group.  Music: Avram Pengas. Continue reading »

Nonfiction

383: David Gonzalez

This Times journalist is particularly astute about New York’s Puerto Rican neighborhoods, so you’d think he’d be eager to see the new West Side Story. You’d be wrong. “I don’t like someone who doesn’t know my culture, doesn’t know my language, doesn’t know my community . . . I don’t really need to see West Side Story. … Continue reading »

Nonfiction

372: Dorinda Elliott

A journalist with expertise in China, Newsweek’s former Beijing bureau chief says, “The struggle between intellectuals and the merchant class continues in China, but at the moment it’s kind of like money trumps everything.” I’m glad I don’t live in a country like that. We defeated our intellectuals long ago. Produced with the China Institute. Continue reading »

Nonfiction

370: Emily Raboteau

Many people share this writer’s admiration of John James Audubon as a naturalist and an artist, especially his magisterial Birds of America. “But fewer people know about him as a slave owner and a white supremacist,” she says. Birds, beauty, climate change, and racial justice: it’s complicated. And delightfully so. Produced with Orion Magazine. Continue reading »

Nonfiction

356: Louis Menand

Author of The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War, he is as sophisticated an intellectual as any of his colleagues at The New Yorker. The book that set him on his path? A Hardy Boys mystery, The Secret of the Old Mill. “I read this, and my heart was pounding. And I thought, I want to … Continue reading »

Nonfiction

350: Tony Hiss

His most recent book, Rescuing the Planet: Protecting Half the Land to Heal the Earth, is surprisingly upbeat for a book whose title includes the words “rescuing” and “heal.” I discovered him through an earlier work, The Experience of Place, in honor of which we break format and, instead of person place thing, talk place place place. Continue reading »

Nonfiction

344: Bill McKibben

A writer and environmentalist, he counts himself lucky to have worked at The New Yorker with (for? near?) William Shawn, “the greatest editor of the twentieth century.” What contributed to his mastery? “Once he had writers in his stable, he was quite interested in what they were interested in.” Professional skill as a manifestation of individual character. Continue reading »

Nonfiction

323: David Sedaris

Even his setups are funny, like this: “There was a taxidermy kiwi at a store in London.” Or this: “Everybody in the family convinced the youngest child that if she was naked, she was invisible.” Funny, a bit cruel, and entirely delightful. His new book, The Best of Me, will beor perhaps has been published the … Continue reading »