Sunday, April 27, 2014

The New Yorker Blog Covers Chang Rae Lee

Here is something from the New Yorker's blog that I found interesting.  Hope you do, too:
APRIL 25, 2014


When the Korean-American novelist Chang-rae Lee was a child, he was particularly interested in the works of Sigmund Freud. As he told the Times recently, he read Freud’s case studies eagerly, absorbing the tales of his famous patients as if they were descriptions of characters in a story. This may explain Lee’s natural affinity for characters trapped by behaviors and conditions they cannot control. Lee, who first began contributing stories to The New Yorker in 1995, was included in the magazine’s 20 Under 40 fiction list in 1999, for his short story “The Volunteers,” about the experiences of Korean comfort women during the Second World War. The story was excerpted from Lee’s second novel, “A Gesture Life,” which eventually went on to receive the Asian American Literary Award.
In 2004, the magazine published “Daisy,” an excerpt from Lee’s third novel, “Aloft.” The story, which expertly skewers the tales of American suburbia that proliferated during the late sixties and seventies, centers on a hapless Italian-American businessman, Jerry, and his Korean wife, Daisy, who live in the suburbs of Long Island. It’s a portrait of suburban malaise with a twist: while the story is told from Jerry’s limited perspective, his wife quickly emerges as the more compelling and haunted character. Living far away from her family, and increasingly reliant upon her unsympathetic husband, Daisy begins to experience a kind of mania. As the story progresses, her emotional state becomes more and more unstable:
Did the time mark a strange kind of renaissance for her? I really don’t know. What’s clear to me is that Daisy pretty much exploded with life, and our life exploded right along with her. Up to then, my basic conception of crazy was the one I’d held since youth: the picture of a raven-haired Irish girl named Clara who climbed the trees in her pleated Catholic-school skirt not wearing underwear and lobbed Emily Dickinson down to me in a wraithlike voice (“I cannot live with You— It would be Life—and Life is over there—Behind the Shelf”), my trousers clingy with fear and arousal.
With Daisy, neither I nor anyone else, not even Dr. Derricone, knew the extent of her troubles, the ornate reach and complication. Those initial shopping sprees would in the end seem like the smallest indiscretions—filched candy from the drugstore, a lingering ass pat at a neighborhood cocktail party—nothing you couldn’t slough off with a laugh, nothing you couldn’t later recall with some wistful fondness.
Daisy’s mind is a mystery to her husband, but that’s precisely the point. The self-involved Jerry has neither the curiosity nor the patience to discover what ails his wife. Lee, who resides in New Jersey with his family, once remarked that the suburbs can be an awful environment for isolated immigrants. In “Daisy,” he shows us a character who is ultimately more isolated by her marriage than by her environment.
The entire story is available in our online archive. If you’d like to read more by Chang-rae Lee, please take a look at “The Volunteers,” and his 1995 Family Life piece, “Coming Home Again,” on cooking Korean dishes for his mother. You can also check out this Fiction Q. & A. with Lee, from earlier this year.
Photograph by Pascal Saez/Writer Pictures/AP.

Spring is here . . . but should it be? Take a read of Carl Zimmer's latest article

Richard Primack, left, a biologist at Boston University, examining plant species in a meadow near Concord, Mass., in 2008 alongside Charles Davis of Harvard. Dr. Primack says spring arrives in Concord three weeks earlier now than when Thoreau recorded it in the 1850s. CreditRick Friedman for The New York Times
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This is a busy time of year for Richard B. Primack, a biologist at Boston University. He and his colleagues survey the plants growing around Concord, Mass., recording the first day they send up flowers and leaves.
Compared to the last five springs, things are pretty slow right now around Concord, in large part because of the relatively cold winter and chilly March.
But Dr. Primack wouldn’t call this a late spring. “It’s just much later compared to our recent memories of spring,” he said.
Dr. Primack knows this thanks to Henry David Thoreau. During the 1850s, Thoreau carefully recorded the arrival of spring at Walden Pond, one of Concord’s most famous sites. Dr. Primack has combined Thoreau’s data with his own and those of other naturalists to create a record of the seasons stretching across 160 years.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

50th Birthday Party of the Class of 1987

So, in the coming 12 to 18 months, most of our class will be turning 50.  Yes, it's true.  There it is.

We can either ignore this fact, or we can embrace it.  I choose to embrace it . . .  by having a big, brash 50th birthday bash in New York City.

Are you interested?  Are you interested in helping organize?  If so, please let me know.


Gevisser maps personal history with JHB

Gevisser maps personal history with JHB

Classmate Mark Gevisser has come out with a memoir.  A recent article includes some Q&A with him about it:

Gevisser maps personal history with JHB

A book cover of Mark Gevisser's Lost and Found in Johannesburg.
The book combines Gevisser’s memoirs of growing up in a segregated setting with a biography of his backyard. Picture: supplied.

 | a day ago
JOHANNESBURG - As a bookish child, Mark Gevisser played a game he has retroactively calledDispatcher in which he would plot routes in his parents’ street guide, the Holmden’s Register of Johannesburg, using the index to place names.
“Inevitably, the Dispatcher took me to places I was not meant to go,” he writes, recalling the time he stumbled across one of the few African names - let’s call him Mphahlele, M - in the book and discovered that the address was only two pages away from where he and his family lived on page 77.
But his family lived in the upmarket and “whites only” suburb of Sandton while Mphahlele, M was in the neighboring black township of Alexandra, separated by only two pages and a stream but worlds apart.
Gevisser says there was no way of steering his imaginary courier from page 77 to page 75 as “Sandton simply ended at its eastern boundary, the Sandspruit stream, with no indication of how one might cross it, or even that page 75 was just on the other side”.
Lost and Found in Johannesburg combines Gevisser’s memoirs of growing up in this segregated environment with a biography of his hometown. Along the way it maps his family's Lithuanian Jewish past with his own journey of sexual self-awakening as he realized he was gay.

Five Questions with Noah Emerich

Here's a recent article about our classmate, Noah, who stars on The Americans:

5 Questions With Noah Emmerich Of “The Americans”

Under normal circumstances, Noah Emmerich would be playing the hero of FX’s The Americans. His character, Stan Beeman, is a dogged FBI agent in 1980s Washington, D.C., working to capture undercover Soviet spies in our midst. What he doesn’t quite know is that the spies he’s looking for are actually his neighbors, Elizabeth and Philip Jennings (Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys). But since The Americans is told from Elizabeth and Philip’s point of view, Stan incredibly can come off as the villain. Talking about Season 2 of the hit show — which airs Wednesdays on FX — Emmerich says that there will be more, shall we say, moral shading done for Stan’s character to make it a little easier for the audience to root against him. Emmerich took some time to answer our “5 Questions.”
1. You’re at a magazine rack and can only pick three titles. Which ones do you choose? The New YorkerThe Economist and Harper’s Bazaar.

Check out Yalie.Com

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Phelps Gate

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Yale Day of Service

President Bush is also a supporter of the Yale Day of Service.  "Yalies are citizens, not spectators."  Are you participating on May 10?

Yale Day of Service

Check our President Clinton's message about the Yale Day of Service 2014.  What are you doing on May 10?

For more information, click here.