Thomas Mallon reviews Joshua Kendall’s new biography of the eccentric Peter Mark Roget, creator of the Thesaurus, in this weekend’s New York Times Book Review. The review is Obsessed (Agog, Beset, Consumed, Driven, etc.) and contains the wonderful Thesaurus-aided comment “the Thesaurus entry for ‘uncleanness’ is a lollapalooza.” Mallon’s essay History, Fiction, and the Burden of Truth is nigh required reading for our 2009 Seminar, “Historical Fiction and The Search for Truth,” which will feature Mallon along with other world-renowned writers of historical fiction and noted historians.
The first episode of Janna Levin Reports from the Cosmos is up. We were pretty piqued by Janna’s blend of intellect and cool this January, and have been waiting ever since for the podcasts she promised. It’s a quick primer on Relativity and Curved Spacetime, aka “Warren Malone asks me why, when he break dances on the C-train, does he land in the same spot?” This is cosmology!? That snappy musical intro and sweet outro is the work of that same Warren Malone, who we think might be Janna’s husband.
And, in another sign that Junot Díaz is completely blowing up, a post-Spitzer-scandal Times feature on three high-priced NY call-girls describes one as “a hipster with entrancing blue eyes who carries an NPR tote bag and might offer up a few pleasantries in the Whole Foods checkout line before turning back to her Junot Díaz novel.” Go, Junot.