Month: June 2014

NY Times: In defense of reporting abroad

This video is a model of superb investigative journalism by Nicholas Kristof and his team. They’re reporting on the devastating reality of 21st-century Muslim concentration camps in Myanmar and this video compilation of what’s going on there both tugs at the heartstrings and fires up the mind. Here is a column by Kristof explaining why he continually chooses to travel to and report in exotic, developing lands like Myanmar—and why he encourages American youth to do the same. His principal reasoning: “From afar, it’s often easier to see our own privilege — and responsibilities … it’s also shortsighted to insist that we solve all of our own problems before beginning to address those abroad.” Advertisements

Reverberations of ‘The Goldfinch’

I just ended a three-month literary affair with ‘The Goldfinch’ by Donna Tartt. It was sincere, demanding, cerebral—and lengthy. I decided to pick up Tartt’s latest best-seller days after I learned of its Pulitzer Prize award for best fiction in April. The judges called it “a book that stimulates the mind and touches the heart.” Initially, the novel received rave reviews from critics at The New York Times (“’The Goldfinch’ is a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind.”) and elsewhere, often calling it “Dickensian” literature. But, in recent news, ‘The Goldfinch’ has been the target of criticisms made by a select group of even higher brow literary agents at The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books and The Paris Review. All of which claim ‘The Goldfinch’ to be infantilizing our literary culture contemporarily and in the future. As knowledgeable society understands, no book, while its reviews may be tipping the scale, will sustain completely positive, or negative, judgments. Thus, the kerfuffle over ‘The Goldfinch’ raises …

The magic of travel writing

Travel is glamorous only in retrospect. -Paul Theroux, American travel writer and novelist.  This month, I collected three of my favorite travel magazines and dedicated time to studying the captivating storytelling each has to offer. By the end of each issue, I had a few favorite pieces. The best travel writing isn’t just about stellar accommodations or fabulous food. It’s about leaping out of comfort zones, emotional and mental maturation and the people who show up along the way. The magic of travel writing lies in its ability to shake up our perceptions of places and cultures—to see new meaning in those things we once believed to be familiar.  Condè Nast Traveler – “The Art of Being Alone” by Paul Theroux Why it’s good: Master travel writer Theroux reminds readers in this terse journal entry why travel is synonymous with solitude. Theroux, at 73, seems to understand the generational gap between himself and millennials, yet refuses to accept it as an excuse. He assures readers that loneliness can, in fact, feel good and that travel is the true safe haven. The best …