Joseph Mitchell, Mossad, Gluten-Free, Hoboes, Tintern Abbey

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The Master Writer Of The City

Janet Malcolm | New York Review Of Books | 3rd April 2015

Joseph Mitchell produced profiles and essays of such perfection that he became for many the model of New Yorker writer. But, as a new biography confirms, he was prone to "radical departures from factuality". Some of his principal characters were "composites" — or, as we would say now, he made them up. This may trouble our view of Mitchell as a journalist; it should not trouble our view of him as a writer (5,300 words)

Operation Red Falcon

Ronen Bergman | Atavist | 2nd April 2015 | Metered paywall

Real-life spy thriller. Mossad case officer recruits Syrian general in Paris and runs him single-handed for more than twenty years as Israel's top asset in the Arab world, code-named Red Falcon. But when false intelligence from Red Falcon brings Israel and Syria to the brink of war, and Mossad walks back the cat, nothing is quite as it seems. Either the case officer was making it all up — or Red Falcon was running him (17,700 words)

Health Is The New Wealth

Mark Ladner | Lucky Peach | 2nd April 2015

New Yorkers who eat at Del Posto are "rich and want to live for ever." Food fads rule every meal and the kitchen has to adjust. Nut-free pesto? Of course! "After some time, trying to make a distinction between allergies, intolerances, and preferences became too irritating for us. Now our attitude is: just tell us what you want and we’ll make it that way. Once we got away from trying to judge and rationalize, it was liberating" (880 words)

Sugar Days

Sierra Crane-Murdoch | VQR | 1st April 2015

Life among America's new hoboes, the marginal workers drifting between seasonal jobs handling fish in Alaska, marijuana in California, sugar beet in North Dakota. "A familiar typology is that hoboes wander to find work, tramps work only to facilitate wandering, and bums neither wander nor work. There is, perhaps, another important delineation — between those who work for a way into society and those who work for a way out" (5,300 words)

Tintern Abbey

Anthony Daniels | New Criterion | 1st April 2015

Inevitably, some things have changed since Wordsworth published Lines Composed A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey. "I doubt that in 1798, the date of the poem, there would have been a notice informing him that ancient monuments can be dangerous, followed by an enumeration of the various hazards consequent upon visiting them, with little schematic pictures of these hazards to aid those lacking in reading comprehension" (2,330 words)

Video of the day: Tyler Cowen Talks To Peter Thiel

What to expect: Conversation about artificial intelligence, globalisation, religion, chess (77')

Thought for the day

Cities mindful of tourists have built elaborate 'tourist traps' which, luckily, work
Andrei Codrescu (

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