Posts Tagged ‘philip roth’

Monday Medley

What we read while Chicago public school students didn’t…

In Defense of Duke

As we at NPI have previously hinted, we have all emanated from that majestic and triumphant institution of higher learning, Duke University. In fact, it is fair to say that, without Duke, this blog would not exist. Other gifts to humanity that Duke has bestowed include basketball extraordinaire Jason Williams, former Heroes star Jack Coleman, novelist Reynolds Price, journalist Charlie Rose, and former NFL star Sonny Jurgensen. That’s not a bad list, and it’s by no means everybody.

Of course, Tim, Josh, and I would not say that Duke is perfect. For one, we’re not the kind of people that love institutions unconditionally. It’s pretty obvious that every university has its flaws. In fact, we probably wouldn’t object if you said that Duke has more flaws than your average elite institution.

But when someone who writes for a prominent magazine—like, I don’t know, let’s say The Atlantic—writes an unjustified hatchet-job that is illogical, mean-spirited, and not supported by any hard evidence…well, that really grinds our gears. See, hating Duke has been trendy for about two decades now (it probably started when Christian Laettner stepped on Aminu Timberlake). There are a lot of reasons for this that I won’t bother going into here, but suffice it to say that sometime around 2006, when three members of the Duke lacrosse team were accused of rape,* members of the non-sports media realized they could churn out “polarizing” columns by regurgitating the same accusations of racism and elitism that had been levied against the basketball team for 15 years. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while waiting for the first Chilean miner book…

  • A real-life version of Hans Moleman presents, “Man Getting Hit by Football.” Starring Brett Favre.

Aught Lang Syne: What Tim Is Looking Forward to in the Teens

In the Teens, I’m looking forward to…

…the career arc of LeBron James.

As of right now, the basketball populace seems more sure that LeBron James is the Player of the Next Decade than that Kobe Bryant or Tim Duncan or Shaquille O’Neal is the Player of This One. We know that LeBron James is phenomenal now and that he will only continue to get better. But we still don’t know the extent of that improvement or where it will take place. Will James stick with his hometown Cavaliers or spurn them and become the most significant free-agent signing in sports history? If the latter, is it for the bright lights and crappy teammates of Madison Square Garden? The allure of eclipsing Jordan in Chicago? Or teaming up with Wade in Miami or Durant in, gasp, Oklahoma City?

This last question leads to the next one: Who will be James’s primary rival? Will Wade or Durant or Carmelo Anthony raise their games to the required levels to consistently compete with LeBron? Or will he, like Jordan, be too far above them to even be compared to another individual?

LeBron James will be the most culturally significant athlete of the Teens; it’s all a matter of how and where.

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Aught Lang Syne: The Decade in Literature, Part II

In case you missed Part I of our quick glimpses of the decade’s most noteworthy fiction, you can check it out here.

White Teeth — Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith’s first novel came out in the first month of the Aughts, and seemed to be an important, symbolic moment for literature at large. For one, it led critic James Wood to coin the term “hysterical realism,” a catch-all term for the kind of “big novel” Smith and many other young writers of this decade were writing. While the term was used pejoratively, it is an important indicator of the ambition of certain modern novelists. Smith’s novel traces two families through the entire second half of the century, covering World War II and the 1990s. The scope is an important theme, highlighting the grasp past events have on our modern lives, whether we like it or not.

–John S

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius — Dave Eggers

The novelistic memoir that propelled Eggers to full-on Voice of the Generation stature, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius does its best to live up to its name. Eggers manages to be meta without being condescending and to be funny without sacrificing poignancy. In crafting a deeply personal story that resonates universally, Eggers proved—for the first time—that he is a fascinating and compelling storyteller of the highest order.

–Tim

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Unabated to the QB, Week 2: The Defining Moment

“But of course you must remember, fans, the turning points in our history are not always so grand as they are cracked up to be in the murals on your post office wall.”

—The Great American Novel

I’m struck by some parallel notions after two weeks of the NFL season. The first combines the fact that Eli Manning again showed why he might be the best “last 4:00 of a game” quarterback in the league* on Sunday night in a huge game against the Cowboys with the fact that the Giants play the Buccaneers this upcoming Sunday. You see, it was in Tampa two seasons ago that Manning led the Giants to his first playoff win—a victory that at the time was unremarkable and seemingly insignificant (in a big picture sense). But it was the turning point, for Manning went on of course for three more playoff wins in 2007 and has been one of the league’s 10 best quarterbacks since.

*And I’m serious on this. Outside of his brother, I don’t know if anyone is really close. Brady failed on Sunday in the final minutes, and his greatest late comeback drives involved 1) The Tuck Rule; and 2) His team recovering a fumble after he threw an interception on 4th down (in San Diego in 2006). Brees has never done it in a big spot, McNabb is terrible in the 2:00 drill, Warner always scores too quickly (THREE times in the Super Bowl he’s scored too quickly), Rivers hasn’t done it, Roethlisberger has the Super Bowl drive but little else.

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