Articles By: Richard K

On Nicholson Baker’s The Way the World Works

‘I want to write a short book called The Way the World Works’, writes Nicholson Baker in a self-reflexive addendum to a short book called The Way the World Works, a collection of essays spanning fifteen years and containing such miscellaneous pieces as an apologia for pacifism, a tribute to the late John Updike, and a review of the ‘first-person […]

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Cheer up, it may happen

The self-help genre has always had its critics. Even in 1983, before the craze for self-improvement had really got going, Walker Percy’s Lost in the Cosmos was taking aim at its habits of mind. Then, in 1998, we got Christopher Buckley’s God is My Broker, which delineates the ‘7½ Laws of Spiritual and Financial Growth’. (Conclusion: ‘The only way to […]

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On Jeremy Waldron and Martha C. Nussbaum

Whenever there is a discussion about free speech, two things are almost certain to be said. The first is (roughly) ‘I disagree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it.’ And the second is (equally roughly) ‘Freedom of speech should not extend to falsely shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theatre.’ While the first […]

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On Michael Rosen and Susan Cain

On 25 October 1991, the Mayor of Morsang-sur-Orge, Paris, issued an order banning a dwarf-tossing competition due to take place at a local discotheque. Invoking his police powers for the maintenance of public order, the Mayor took the view that the practice of dwarf-tossing was an affront to human dignity. Certainly the proposed event – which was to feature one […]

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On Thomas Frank and Arthur Goldwag

Say what you like about the Treasurer Wayne Swan – his timing is impeccable. As I was sitting down to plan this review, he was standing up at the National Press Club to attack the ‘tiny handful of people … who mobilise their considerable wealth against policies designed to benefit the majority’. Taking aim at the mining billionaires who’d campaigned […]

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Lamenting the lost spirit of ’68

‘We want structures that serve people, not people that serve structures!’ ‘The revolution doesn’t belong to the committees. It’s yours!’ ‘The boss needs you. You don’t need him!’ ‘This concerns everyone!’ No, not the slogans of the Occupy movement – the self-styled 99% – but those of a previous uprising: France 1968, when students and workers took to the streets […]

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Them’s not fighting words

I hesitate to begin a book review by referring to the publisher’s blurb, still less to the puff-quote on the book’s front cover, but in the case of Public Enemies, a volume of correspondence between the novelist Michel Houellebecq and the philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, the temptation proves irresistible. First the puff-quote: ‘Brilliantly done’ (Ian Buruma, New York Times). Now, we […]

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7/22: a review of On Utoya

Either Guy Rundle has an odd sense of humour or his proofreading skills are not what they should be. In the first of his three contributions to On Utøya, an e-book dealing with Anders Breivik and the massacre in Norway last July, he permits himself a moment of meteorological wistfulness: ‘The penultimate weekend of July 2011 was a warm one […]

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On Michael Moore’s Here Comes Trouble

The activist filmmaker Michael Moore grew up in a suburb of Flint, Michigan, a city synonymous with working-class struggle. The site of one of the most notable events in US labour history – the 1937 strike, in which the fledgling United Automobile Workers took on, and triumphed over, General Motors – Flint was also one of the first casualties of […]

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