In politics

  • My friend Phil Campbell has written a highly entertaining and terribly depressing book called Zioncheck for President: A True Story of Idealism and Madness in American Politics, about an ill-fated Seattle City Council campaign he ran in 2001. A review in the weekend’s Boston Globe acknowledges that, at first blush, a “story set during the summer and fall of 2001 might not seem to have much to do with the present day.” But, says the reviewer, Campbell’s “incredibly candid portrait of idealism and disaffection … serves as a diagnosis for anyone struggling to reconcile individual efficacy with an indifferent world.” Campbell is harder on no one than himself. “Why was I suffering from self-doubt,” he asks at one point, “narcissism’s doomed little brother?” (I’m quoting from memory. Regular readers may recall that I cut short his reading afterglow a few weeks ago. I picked up the rum book at the same reading.)
  • Orhan Pamuk, still facing trial in his homeland, further clarifies his stance on the Armenian massacre, saying he is not backtracking from his remarks about the Armenians and Kurds killed in Turkey, but that he did not use the word “genocide.” “Whether it should be called ‘genocide’ or ‘mass murder’… or something else, has to be decided by experts,” he explains.
  • “Among the many bookplates pasted into the volumes of Harvard’s Widener Library, one stands out in its severe simplicity. ‘This book was stolen from Harvard College Library,’ it says. ‘It was later recovered. The thief was sentenced to two years at hard labor.'” (Use Bug Me Not.)

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