Black Sea Falconry, Famous Last Works, OKCupid, Iraq

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Forgotten Sea: Falconers Of The Eastern Pontos

Alexander Christie-Miller | White Review | 8th September 2014

Magical account of falconry on the Turkish Black Sea coast, as practised mainly among the Laz, "an ethnic minority of some 50,000 or so people living to the east of Trabzon, who speak in their homes a language related to Georgian". The tradition is almost mythical; its survival into modern times is a miracle; this must be one of the last threads of culture extending unbroken from our times to those of the ancient Greeks (11,400 words)

Last Works

Roger Grenier | American Scholar | 8th September 2014

How writers end their careers. Sometimes they seem to know a work will be their last: "Molière coughed up blood and wrote a farce about a hypochondriac. He died during the fourth performance." Vladimir Nabokov's last, unfinished, novel, The Original of Laura, was at first called Dying Is Fun. In his notes for The First Man, Albert Camus wrote: “The book must remain unfinished.” And it did, when he died in a car crash (2,540 words)

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me A Spreadsheet

Chadwick Matlin | FiveThirtyEight | 9th September 2014

OKCupid looks like a dating agency but it's really a data agency. Co-founder Christian Rudder rescued the site from imminent collapse by discovering that he could refashion his user data into publicity-grabbing factoids about modern love. The piece includes, from his hand, probably the funniest pair of charts you will see this year — showing, in effect, that women age gracefully in their desires, but men never age at all (3,620 words)

Iraq: The Outlaw State

Max Rodenbeck | New York Review Of Books | 8th September 2014

Extreme violence has characterised life in Iraq at least since the Assyrian empire in the 7th century BC. The Mongols razed Baghdad twice. Iraqis have suffered three major wars since 1980 alone. Now they confront the "homicidal and messianic" Islamic State. "The use of seemingly gratuitous cruelty as a form of display — as a talisman of godlike power and an advertisement of worldly success — has old roots here" (4,120 words)

A Symphony Of American Junk

William Deresiewicz | New Republic | 9th September 2014

Discussion of John Updike, drawing on Adam Begley's new biography, Updike. He was "the boy wonder of American letters" in the 1950s; but when America changed in the 1960s, Updike got left behind. He came to seem "a figure from another time, another America, out of touch and out of date, his 
epitaphs already written". Harold Bloom called him “a minor novelist with a major style”. But his craftsmanship endures (5,521 words)

Video of the day: Kodama

What to expect: Gentle, dreamy music video

Thought for the day

Cigarettes are like hamsters. Perfectly harmless until you put one in your mouth and light it
Zach Galifianakis (

A Talk in London

Come and see Browser favourites Felix Salmon (ex-Reuters) and Izabella Kaminska (FT) discuss art, 3D printing and Bitcoin on September 24th. Tickets are £5, and include a glass of wine (or two). Tickets are available here ( .

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