Max Perkins, Animals, Brexit, Birds, Opera


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

Max Perkins, America’s Greatest Editor

A Scott Berg | Literary Hub | 13th June 2016

Portrait of Max Perkins, whose authors included Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. “For a confrontation with his ultraconservative publisher, Charles Scribner, over the four-letter words in Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms, Perkins jotted the words he wanted to discuss — ‘s**t’, ‘f**k’, and ‘p**s’ — on his desk calendar, without regard to the calendar’s heading: Things to Do Today. Scribner remarked that he was in great trouble if he needed to remind himself to do those things” (2,700 words)

He Tried To Be A Badger

Elizabeth Kolbert | New York Review of Books | 13th June 2016

What is it like to be an animal? Charles Foster thinks the question overreaches: “People don’t know much about what it’s like to be another person, let alone a bat or a badger”. But you can try to see the world as an animal sees it — which Foster does by living in holes in the ground and eating slugs for weeks at a time. His account of these forays, Being A Beast, is appraised here kindly but coolly as “gonzo nature writing” — an “obviously demented” project pursued with “unhinged élan”. (3,300 words)

Why I Am Voting To Leave The EU

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard | Daily Telegraph | 12th June 2016

The short-term economic costs of leaving pale beside the long-term political costs of staying. “The EU as constructed is not only corrosive but ultimately dangerous, and that is the phase we have now reached as governing authority crumbles across Europe. The Project bleeds the lifeblood of the national institutions, but fails to replace them with anything lovable or legitimate at a European level. It draws away charisma, and destroys it. This is how democracies die” (2,400 words)

Birdies Of America

Lucy Ellman | Baffler | 13th June 2016

Eccentric, discursive, lyrical, PG-rated essay which begins by considering the sex lives of birds, proceeds to compare certain birds with certain politicians, and somehow ends up as an appreciation of Katherine Hepburn in At Golden Pond. “You don’t see marauding gangs of male pigeons leaving behind them distraught female pigeons with bent feathers and broken wings. In pigeon society, it’s clearly female passion that counts, not male, and flirtatious male pigeons seem resigned to this” (2,550 words)

It Beggared All Description

Sudip Bose | American Scholar | 6th June 2016

The Met marked its move to Lincoln Center in 1966 by commissioning a new opera, Anthony And Cleopatra, from Samuel Barber. The composer imagined an intimate staging. The director, Franco Zeffirelli, demanded “mammoth sets, a vast cast, and sumptuous costumes”. The outcome was worthy of Spinal Tap. Cleopatra “got locked inside a massive pyramid and had no choice but to keep singing from within”. Barber fled for Europe the next day, saying he would never write music again (525 words)

Video of the day: How To Move A City

What to expect:

Documentary explaining how and why the Swedish Arctic town of Kiruna is being moved two miles east (10’10”)

Thought for the day

A person who is sure of being trusted places little value on intimacy
Friedrich Nietzsche

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