Martin Amis, Lightning, Art Forgery, Censorship, David Cameron

Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

The Death Factory

Joyce Carol Oates | New Yorker | 25th September 2014

Zone of Interest, Martin Amis's social comedy set in Auschwitz, is OK but underpowered. "The author’s rage at Holocaust horrors is portioned into scenes and sentences; it does not gather into a powerful swell, to overwhelm or terrify. 'To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme,' Melville declares in Moby-Dick. But such mightiness may be precluded by a mode of writing whose ground bass is irony rather than empathy" (2,114 words)

The Body Electric

Ferris Jabr | Outside | 22nd September 2014

People struck by lightning almost always survive. The charge, though massive, is so brief; it dissipates across the skin. "But nothing is normal anymore. Chronic pain, memory trouble, personality changes, and mood swings can all follow an encounter with lightning. Survivors, grappling with a fundamental shift in identity, feel increasingly alienated by the incomprehensible nature of their condition" (4,370 words)

The Art Forger Who Became A National Hero

Zachary Crockett | Priceonomics | 24th September 2014

Hans van Meegeren painted fake Vermeers so convincing that one ended up on Göring's wall. A post-war Dutch court sentenced Van Meegeren to death, ruling that the "Vermeer" was real and the artist must have stolen it. "Van Meegeren was given one last chance to prove his innocence: If he could produce a brilliant forgery before the eyes of court-appointed witnesses, he'd be spared." He did, and he was (3,350 words)

The Book Censor

Perry Hobbs | New Republic | 2nd April 1930

A conversation with the book censor for the states of New England, who explains his methods. "I’ve been married quite a while now, and the work gets easier all the time. You’ll find out what I mean when you get married yourself. You’ll be able to decide things much better. Before I was married, sometimes I’d go easy on the stuff. But marriage makes a big difference. You learn what things are and what they aren’t” (2,500 words)

The Cameron Way

Adrian Wooldridge | Spectator | 25th September 2014 | Metered paywall

British prime minister David Cameron has the trick of "signalling left while turning right". Under his seemingly mild-mannered rule the state's share of GDP has shrunk from 46.3% to 42.5%, "the biggest reduction since the second world war". The aftermath of the Scottish independence referendum presents him with an historic opportunity to go much further. "The stars are aligned for a great reforming administration" (1,760 words)

Video of the day: Am I Dying?

What to expect: TED talk. Emergency medical responder describes how he deals with the inevitable inquiry

Thought for the day

Happiness is the longing for repetition
Milan Kundera (

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