Friday, December 16

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After decades of failed revitalization strategies, a town of 10,000 tries another.

Thursday, December 15

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On the recovery of snowboarder Kevin Pearce, who suffered a massive brain injury five days before the 2010 Olympics.

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James Wood on Saul Bellow:

One realizes, with a shock, that Bellow has taught one how to see and how to hear, has opened the senses. Until this moment one had not really thought of the looseness of a lightbulb filament, one had not heard the saliva bubbling in the harmonica, one had not seen well enough the nose pitted with black pores, and the demolition ball’s slow, heavy selection of its victims. A dozen good writers–Updike, DeLillo, others–can render you the window of a fish shop, and do it very well; but it is Bellow’s genius to see the lobsters “crowded to the glass” and their “feelers bent” by that glass–to see the riot of life in the dead peace of things.

Wednesday, December 14

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After the United States demanded the extradition of a drug lord, a bloodletting ensued.

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An attempt to recruit black students at Virginia’s most famous “segregation academy.”

Sunday, December 11

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The story of twin boys who became brother and sister.

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In the fantasy and superhero realm, the most chilling and compelling villain of the year was surely Magneto, who in X-Men: First Class is more of a proto-villain, a victim of human cruelty with a grudge against the nonmutants of the world rooted in bitter and inarguable experience. Magneto is all the more fascinating by virtue of being played by Michael Fassbender, the hawkishly handsome Irish-German actor whose on-screen identity crises dominated no fewer than four movies in 2011. Magneto, more than the others, also evokes a curious kind of self-reproach, because his well-founded vendetta is, after all, directed against us.
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The ascendant breed of grown-ups who are redefining adulthood.

This is an obituary for the generation gap. It is a story about 40-year-old men and women who look, talk, act, and dress like people who are 22 years old. It’s not about a fad but about a phenomenon that looks to be permanent.

Saturday, December 10

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On prospecting for space rocks in Kansas.

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 The same forces that put his family in the slum also gave him the golf course on the other side of the wall, and the teachers and sponsors, and the strange ability to hit a ball with a club. But it still doesn't make sense. Sometimes it seems as if fate is wrestling with itself, making sure the circumstances of his birth are always conspiring to take away whatever gifts might allow him to escape it. He lives in two worlds, each one pulling away from the other. Anil is in the middle, trying to keep his balance.

Friday, December 9

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An essay drawn from the introduction of Davidson’s iconic book Subway, first published in 1986:

To prepare myself for the subway, I started a crash diet, a military fitness exercise program, and early every morning I jogged in the park. I knew I would need to train like an athlete to be physically able to carry my heavy camera equipment around in the subway for hours every day. Also, I thought that if anything was going to happen to me down there I wanted to be in good shape, or at least to believe that I was. Each morning I carefully packed my cameras, lenses, strobe light, filters, and accessories in a small, canvas camera bag. In my green safari jacket with its large pockets, I placed my police and subway passes, a few rolls of film, a subway map, a notebook, and a small, white, gold-trimmed wedding album containing pictures of people I’d already photographed in the subway. In my pants pocket I carried quarters for the people in the subway asking for money, change for the phone, and several tokens. I also carried a key case with additional identification and a few dollars tucked inside, a whistle, and a small Swiss Army knife that gave me a little added confidence. I had a clean handkerchief and a few Band-Aids in case I found myself bleeding.