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  • Adiga's Stories From India

    Like an Asian sister city to Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, the fictitious town of Kittur, India, is full of anguished souls trying to find their place in the world. They fight, love and struggle their way through the overlapping stories in Between the Assassinations, the nimble new work from Aravind Adiga, the Indian writer who won Britain's Man Booker Prize last year for his savage first novel, The White Tiger. With his latest book, Adiga, 34, strengthens the brash voice that echoed through his debut. A graduate of Columbia and Oxford who grew up in the town of Mangalore (the model for Kittur), he is an insider with an outsider's probing eye, taking the country to task for its shortcomings—corruption, cronyism, inequality, indifference—while pulling for its success. ...
  • The Return of the New York Neurotic

    A Woody Allen movie starring Larry David is, in theory, a perfect storm of urban neurosis. "I'm not a likable guy," announces David's character, Boris Yellnikoff, at the start of Whatever Works. David, the star and creator of Curb Your Enthusiasm, has always been a more aggressive neurotic than the kvetcher Allen, whose characters tend to mask their misanthropy with halting self-denigration. Playing "himself" on HBO, David is a beehive of irritability, lashing out at a world that always contrives to reward his contempt with humiliation. In Allen's movie, as a suicidal former physics professor convinced that he's a genius and that the world is spinning out of control, his misanthropy is even more ferocious. But the funny thing is, his venom leaves no sting. Though Boris tells the audience "this isn't a feel-good movie," this likable but paper-thin Allen effort is precisely that, an urban fairy tale with a happy ending that's anything but hard-won. (Story continued below...)Has the...
  • "The Beatles: Rock Band" Trailers -- Are You a Fan?

    Sorry, Where the Wild Things Are.  This latest viral video is officially as badass and funky and musically rockin' as that trailer, minus all the hipster-y, twee elements that make it hedge on cloying.  We were already excited for the September drop of The Beatles: Rock Band, but the quirky animation in this ad for the game has us extra-pumped.  What do you think?To see a preview of the game's actual functionality, and what it will look like to actually inhabit Paul McCartney, check out these other clips:
  • Books: The Bleakness of Neil MacFarquhar's Memoir

    Neil MacFarquhar's new book does what every reporter aspires to: it sneakily delivers social science (history, anthropology, political theory) to the reader in the guise of a hack's memoir. The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday is the author's account of four years as a Middle East reporter for The New York Times, and it is filled with first-rate analysis leavened by plenty of color. Strangely, though, MacFarquhar's implied conclusion—he is cautiously optimistic about reform—is largely at odds with the evidence he submits. He sallies forth into Arab capitals and listens attentively to the ambitious, clever and desperate intellectuals trying to liberalize their countries. But ominous obstacles—stagnation-prone governments, paranoid autocrats—lurk in the background.MacFarquhar, who grew up in a Libyan oil enclave populated by Westerners, threads reform ideas into his country descriptions. A Syrian, Mohamed Shahrour, for example, believes the prophet...
  • Why Health Advice on 'Oprah' Could Make You Sick

    Wish Away Cancer! Get A Lunchtime Face-Lift! Eradicate Autism! Turn Back The Clock! Thin Your Thighs! Cure Menopause! Harness Positive Energy! Erase Wrinkles! Banish Obesity! Live Your Best Life Ever!
  • Books: Simon Schama's "The American Future"

    Obama's America is facing some worrisome questions: whether to encourage the globe's best and brightest to flock to our shores, or to save American jobs for American workers. Whether the military should focus on bombing terrorists or building schools. Whether religious beliefs should dictate laws, such as on abortion and gay marriage. Whether the American dream of plenty has finally been exhausted. The issues are so daunting, it's easy to worry that the United States has never faced such insurmountable problems.So leave it to a historian to remind us that even the Founding Fathers grappled with similar debates. In his new book, The American Future, professor and critic Simon Schama traces the four motifs of war, religion, immigration and American bounty as they stretch across our national history like Lincoln's mystic chords of memory, firing each generation's imagination—and, consequently, its politics. Some of the parallels that Schama unearths are striking: here's Jefferson,...
  • The Straight Razor Business Has a Renaissance

    In Solingen, Germany—dubbed the "City of Blades"—artisans grind straight razors in a one-room workshop that has barely changed since their company, Dovo, was founded in 1906. For decades, business was slow as King Gillette's disposable blades swamped the market. But in 2005, the straight razor began "a renaissance," says Dovo's Anne Rothstein. The company now sells about 30,000 a year and has a nine-month waiting list. Eric Malka, CEO of the Art of Shaving, says overall business is down 15 percent since October—but straight-razor sales are up 2 percent. Why? A $100 blade lasts a lifetime, while a lifetime of disposables costs about $3,000. But that's always been true. What's new is the vogue for retro outdoorsman style among the hipster set. So if holding a freshly sharpened knife to your throat makes you nervous, it's time to man up.
  • Books: Another Vampire Story?!

    If there's anything more insatiable than a vampire, it's the public's appetite for vampire tales. The trick for an author or filmmaker is to vary the formula just enough (teen vampires!) to suck back in those of us who have sworn off vampires (and serial killers) for good. In the case of The Strain, the big lure is not what's inside the book but the name of Guillermo del Toro as co-author (with Chuck Hogan) on the cover. Who among the fans of Mimic,The Devil's Backbone or Pan's Labyrinth wouldn't want to see what this gifted film director can do with a vampire novel—or any novel, especially since the list of moviemakers who turn novelist is so weirdly short (Jean Renoir and then …?). Can that fantastic visual imagination make the leap to the page? The answer is a qualified yes. There are plenty of arresting, vividly imagined moments in this page turner. But once you've turned all those pages, you're done. There's no equivalent to the feeling you have when you're finished watching...
  • Edie Falco Plays Another TV Mom

    Edie Falco doesn't mind that people still see her as Carmela Soprano, the matriarch of television's most influential family drama. She just doesn't want to be seen as one of those mothers. You know the type. The self-righteous mommies who think parenthood demarcates humanity, separating the enlightened givers from the selfish egotists. She's not the kind to rail against immunizations or lecture on the evils of gluten. And yet, she can't help herself. "I hate the words coming out of my mouth, because I know how it sounds," says Falco, 45. "But being a mom is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, and I can't believe how profound this experience has been for me."That's not a statement made lightly for someone who has won three Emmys and a pair of Golden Globes, and triumphed over breast cancer. Falco's children, Anderson, 4, and Macy, 1, both of whom she adopted, must really be doing a number on her in the way that children do—by waltzing into their parents' lives and tossing...
  • Elvis Costello: An All-American Boy

    You don't have to listen to the music of Elvis Costello (born Declan Patrick McManus in London) to know he's obsessed with Americana. First, there's that stage name. Next, you have the clues from the songs he's written (or covered): "Eisenhower Blues," "American Without Tears," and "American Gangster Time." In his spare hours, Costello is also a cheerleader for country music history. This decade, he petitioned the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to admit early trailblazer Wanda Jackson. Country—and red-white-and-bluegrass—also appear to have inspired his latest album,Secret, Profane and Sugarcane, which boasts bar after bar of mandolin, fiddle riffing and Louvin Brothers–like vocal harmony. Though it would be a mistake to label the 13-song set a narrow genre exercise. The shadow Nashville casts over Costello is a slightly more complicated affair. (Story continued below...)At the table of style, Costello has long been a gourmand hungry for almost any form he encounters. He frustrated some...
  • Food: Saving the New York City Pizza Slice

    Chef Mathieu Palombino is wearing a New Kids on the Block T shirt—and while it may be ironic, it's not inaccurate. Late last year Palombino, 31, opened Motorino in Brooklyn. His training was tony—Laurent Tourondel, David Bouley—but his latest recipe was rather primitive. Flour from Naples. Tomatoes from Naples. Cheese from Naples. And a massive, 850-degree, wood-burning oven built in Texas by, yes, a man from Naples. "My goal was to make traditional Neapolitan pizza," says Palombino. "The most authentic, the best." Local chowhounds quickly declared Motorino a success, but at least one group disagreed: Palombino's Italian-American neighbors. "They're like 60, 70, and they won't eat my pizza," he admits. "They prefer the place over there—the one with $2 slices." The new kid, it seems, was too old school for the block. And as impressive as his pies are, I get why.Consider the New York slice. It's the city's most enduring gastronomical export: a cheap, cheese-slathered sliver of street...
  • The Hangover: The Bromance of Summer

    We've all seen the damsel-in-distress movie before, but in The Hangover the damsel is a dude. The Hangover is a comedy about three guys who take their buddy Doug on a bachelor party to Vegas. When Doug disappears after a night of amnesia-inducing debauchery, it's up to his friends, like a squad of Prince Charmings, to rescue him. The Hangover is poised to be the sleeper comedy of the summer, thanks in no small part to gags involving a stripper's baby (and the stripper being played by Heather Graham), a missing tiger and Mike Tyson. The movie is probably even good enough, following a string of others like it, to allow us to officially declare that the bromance is the new romantic comedy.The genre started with Judd Apatow's The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, followed closely by I Love You, Man, about a hapless guy who goes on a series of "man dates" to find a best man for his own wedding. (Considering that Paul Rudd appeared in all three of those movies, you might also say he's...
  • Yojiro Takita's Best Movies Ever

    His movie Departures, about a laid-off cellist who goes to work at a funeral home, was Japan's upset winner this year for best foreign film—in other words, it's the one that ruined your Oscar-pool ballot. Should it have beaten Waltz With Bashir? See for yourself. Departures is finally opening in the U.S. Takita shared his favorite films with us. A movie that made me want to be a director Seven SamuraiAkira Kurosawa A movie that illustrates cinema is truly without borders The Last EmperorBernardo Bertolucci A movie that best portrays the American dream RockyJohn Avildsen A movie where sanity meets insanity that resonates in Japan Taxi DriverMartin Scorsese An entertaining movie with unmatched cinematography Down by LawJim Jarmusch A horror movie that shows its director's unbridled wit CarrieBrian de Palma