What to talk about when you talk about the New Yorker this weekend and whom it might impress
This week’s must-read is a “A Murder Foretold,” in which David Grann tells one of the most sensational stories of martyrdom I’ve read–in journalism or fiction. Long, but well worth it, by the time Grann has expertly unravelled its second surprise ending, what began as a riveting true-life political thriller has become a tragedy in the classical sense. The story is about the assassination of Rodrigo Rosenberg, a respected lawyer who believed he had discovered the motivation behind the recent murder of a client, who also happened to be his lover. Rosenberg released a posthumous video he produced in case of the event of his assassination, which was passed out at his funeral and became an instant popular sensation, a symbol of the Guatemalan public’s frustration with its government. In the video, still available on youtube, Rosenberg outlines his evidence and accuses President Column of ordering the murder of his clients, and reveals threats on his own life. David Grann tells how a team of investigators discovered that this “democratization of political assassination” was even more complicated than it seemed, turning notions of truth and honor on their heads several times over.
Whom it might impress:
Concerned world citizens, fans of David Grann’s writing, fans of Don Delillo or John Grisham, students of Latin American History.
This week’s short story comes from Ramona Ausubel, who grew up in Santa Fe and is known for her fantasy writing. Her surrealistic themes infuse the story, “Atria,” about a teen pregnancy, and make it surprising, then nerve-racking, and ultimately, very poignant. The story is about Hazel, a precocious but (therefore?) alienated teen who becomes pregnant and the ways her mind makes sense of the experience in its isolation. The element of the surreal which defines Hazel’s point of view through the story underscores the youthful part of her mind, but it also addresses the working of any mind in isolation, when it thinks about the slippery subject of the unplanned.
Whom it might impress:
sensitive souls or those seeking someone sensitive
A story about the man they are calling “the Russian Julian Assange,” who is Alexey Navalny, a politically ambitious man investigating corruption in the Russian government, and who is taking complaints online for public scrutiny in his new website called RosePil; a look at the composition of the revolutionaries in Libya and the various groups providing leadership; A profile of Robin Williams and his reaction to recent visits entertain troupes in Baghdad; the future of Tunisia.
Adam Gopnik’s book review, “The Limits of Artificial Intelligence” in which he describes how humans have historically dumbfounded computers when it comes to English grammar and the dynamic dynamics of English communication. The book argues that computers that are most successful at simulating language have algorithms for human uncertainty; The “controversial” new TV show “The Kennedys” that was booted off The History Channel for taking artistic liberties with history gets Nancy Franklin’s endorsement as a fair piece of drama and not, as was the claim of critics, a conservative attempt at character assassination.
And finally, the New Yorker daringly presents the first non-rave review I’ve read of The Book of Mormon, the new Broadway musical by the creators of South Park and Avenue Q. In a refreshing take, John Lahr questions the guts of the musical for not taking on the finer points of the Mormon religion, but making light fun and lodging stylistic complaints about Mormonism while excusing racist gags in the process.
Whom they might impress:
concerned world citizens; fans of Robin Williams; someone bragging about Watson’s mastery of Jeopardy; history buffs watching “The Kennedys” for inaccuracies; someone bragging that he scored tickets to The Book of Mormon
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