Quote of the day

"Television is not an art but an appliance, through which reviewable material is sometimes played"
Renata Adler

Gone Girl

Story of – and interview with – a 20-year-old American college student called Hoda who was brought up in the town of Hoover, Alabama, and who slipped out of America last November and is now a fighter’s widow with Isis in Syria. Hoda was brought in a peaceable and religiously strict Muslim family and was studying at college. Her family had no idea that she was developing a “jihadi” personality and plan. (4,595 words)

Libraries of the Future

The “undeniably magical and complex” qualities of libraries have always fascinated writers. Imagined libraries are one of fiction’s recurrent themes: vast, mysterious and sometimes thrilling, sometimes bleak. Fiction has shared the worry of the real world that libraries and librarians may suffer and fall into ruin in the digital era. But in the winter of 2014, the Moscow metro began handing free e-books to travellers, suggesting that libraries may change shape once again. (1,250 words)

States Re-Adopt “Gruesome” Execution Methods

The shortage of lethal injection doses which can be obtained by states in the US which use the death penalty has forced prison authorities to search the grisly alternatives. This has brought back a method of execution long thought to have been consigned to history books: the firing squad. The state of Utah executed one prisoner who chose a firing squad over other possible ways to die. Other states don’t offer choices. (962 words)

Should the Voting Age Be Lowered?

Britain is in the middle of a general election. Middle-aged (mostly male) politicians flail as they attempt to court the votes of younger people in an atmosphere – not confined to Britain – in which all established authority awakes suspicion and derision. The suggestion has been heard again that the minimum voting age of 18 be lowered by two years to 16. Here two knowledgeable observers test the arguments for reviving a fashion for voting. (1,876 words)

Brief History of A Small Office

How to start a literary magazine with lots of talent but very little money. Find helpful people — and exploit them. “Those years were a constant exercise in begging, cajoling, subtly threatening, and otherwise getting people to do things they didn’t necessarily want to do. When asking for help we tended pretty systematically to underestimate how long it would take to perform a particular task — in short, we lied” (2,470 words)

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