‘Serendipity’ in novel form majorly sucks

February 15, 2008
“Beginner’s Greek,” the debut novel from journalist James Collins, has been compared — both in its jacket copy and in early press coverage — to the novels of Jane Austen. To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen: Mr. Collins, you are no Jane Austen. At first glance, “Beginner’s Greek” seems like perfect Valentine’s weekend reading, whether or not »

Pollan’s food manifesto: Just ‘eat’

January 25, 2008
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Michael Pollan chose this mantra to begin his new book, “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.” For good measure, he slapped it on the cover, too. It seems simple enough at first reading — isn’t everything we eat food? But Pollan distinguishes between yogurt and Go-gurt, between »

‘People of the Book’ still no ‘Da Vinci Code’

January 18, 2008
Readers may be most familiar with Geraldine Brooks for her Pulitzer Prize-winning 2005 novel “March,” which imagined the Civil War experience of Mr. March from “Little Women.” In her latest novel, “People of the Book,” Brooks tackles much less familiar territory, imagining the history of the (real) Sarajevo Haggadah, one of the earliest existing Jewish »

Break reading for credit (you wish)

December 7, 2007
We’re Yale students. We love to read. Don’t we? In between rushing off to club meetings and hastily skimming readings for seminar, it’s easy to understand why pleasure reading falls by the wayside during the long slogs through midterms. But now Christmas break is upon us, and with it the paralyzing choice of flight-home reading. »

Perrotta’s ‘Abstinence Teacher’ mounts tension, doesn’t climax

November 30, 2007
To fully appreciate Tom Perrotta’s ’83 latest novel, “The Abstinence Teacher,” it helps to imagine that it is October 2004 again, in the final weeks of the presidential election. George W. Bush is headed for re-election, thanks in large part to the overwhelming support of the religious right and the machinations of Karl Rove. Constitutional »

Catcher in the Writing Class

November 2, 2007
It’s the first Thursday afternoon of shopping period, and every seat in LC 104 is occupied. Students squeeze two to a chair, perch on every available ledge and sit cross-legged on the floor. But for what? The dozens of students in the room have turned out for the information session for Anne Fadiman’s “Advanced Nonfiction »

Scamming Sudler

April 7, 2006
Beyond New Haven, lying about a company’s financial activities has landed hundreds of white-collar criminals massive fines and jail time. Among Yale’s thespians, lying about the use of Sudler money has become an easy way to increase production budgets for expensive shows. And it’s no wonder, since the application requires only a half-page form and »

spring break and service:

March 3, 2006
“Reach Out is like a ‘meta’ aid program,” Josh Batson ’08 said. “You pay to fly to a foreign country and learn about people who do actual work. It’s like if in Habitat for Humanity, you had lunch with carpenters instead of building a house. It seems like paying to take a vacation instead of »

Theater gets pushed offstage

September 16, 2005
Wearing a red sequined dress, Jason Ray ’06 sang “My sex change operation got botched / My guardian angel fell asleep on the watch / Now all I’ve got is a Barbie doll crotch,” to an enthusiastic audience last April. But he was not performing at the Off-Broadway Theater, or the Saybrook Underbrook, or even »

Profs take acting lessons from undergraduates

February 11, 2005
Emeritus professor Marie Borroff — alias “Old Sh**ty Meg” — tried to sell her body to Stefano Theodoli-Braschi ’07. Professors Toni Dorfman and Stefanie Markovits spit on Daniel Hammond ’05. Faculty members David Bromwich and Traugott Lawler then debated the fate of Markovits, who was condemned to hang. Fortunately for the English Department, it was »