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New Nonfiction

GODS & KINGS: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano

New Nonfiction  GODS & KINGS: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano

After McQueen’s graduation from Central Saint Martins, everyone around him urged him to stage a bona fide fashion show. It was time.

McQueen called the collection Nihilism because he said it was about anti-Romanticism. He turned the models into modern punks, bruised and smeared with dirt, their eyes made up to look drug-addict hollow, their hair savage Sid Vicious-like mohawks tinged with red.

A crowd of about three hundred filtered into the first-floor warehouse-like room as a sound track of house and riot grrrl music blared on the sound system.

When the show started, about half an hour late, the models exploded with a hard attitude and stormed past the crowd as the deejay played Nirvana, L7’s “Pretend We’re Dead,” and Cypress Hill’s “I Wanna Get High,” punctuated with silences. One girl pogo danced all the way down the runway. Another model, a student from Central Saint Martins also named Lee who had a boy/girl look, came out bare chested. Many of the models gave the crowd the finger as they walked by.

Like Galliano for his St. Martins degree show, McQueen played with the look of Les Merveilleuses, the late-eighteenth-century Frenchwomen who dressed in flowing, pale, sheer gowns. And like when Galliano reprised the look of muslin disease gowns for his Fallen Angels show, McQueen doused models with water to make the dresses cling to their skin. But where Galliano’s versions looked historic and costume-like and would have seemed strange on a woman in the street or at a party, McQueen’s take was defiantly modern and flagrantly sexual: sleek sleeveless ivory columns molded erotically on the breasts as if they were strapped in S&M harnesses; cling-wrap panties; trousers sliced down the back seam to reveal the buttocks; his signature bumster pants with waistlines cut so low the models had to shave their pubic hair backstage. One T-shirt, with his logo printed large across the breasts, had two smeared bloody handprints down the front, as if a violent murderer was leaving his mark on his latest victim.

If Galliano was a romantic, McQueen was a pornographer. The Larry Flynt of Fashion. He didn’t believe anything was off-limits. Nothing—nothing—was taboo. He accepted the brutality of human nature, thought it normal, didn’t try to suppress it. He didn’t want to put women on a pedestal like untouchable, unreachable goddesses. He wanted to empower them. He wanted to help them use the power of their sex to its fullest.


New Nonfiction: Knife Fights: A Memoir of Modern War in Theory and Practice by John A. Nagl

New Nonfiction: Knife Fights: A Memoir of Modern War in Theory and Practice by John A. Nagl

Ghostriders in the Storm

When do you want to meet the men, Lieutenant?” The Puerto Rican accent was always thick, but it got thicker when he was mad. We’d goad him on purpose, pretending not to be able to understand him, until Sergeant Claudio got so frustrated that he’d throw his hat onto the hot sand and stomp off spouting unintelligible Puerto Rican expletives. It never got old.

But that came later, after I’d met the men. “Um, now, I guess,” was my answer, sounding a bit more like the soft graduate student of international relations I’d recently been and less like the gruff, hardened first lieutenant of armor I hoped to project to my troops.

I’d just left Oxford in the summer of 1990. After allowing me to read books and drink warm English beer for two years, the Army had ordered me to remedial tank training at Fort Knox before an assignment to Fort Hood, Texas, the largest army post in the free world. More…


New Nonfiction: Even This I Get to Experience by Norman Lear

New Nonfiction: Even This I Get to Experience by Norman Lear

Early one Sunday morning in 1983, I got a call from my friend John Mitchell, who was then the president of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. He was calling to tell me that the academy was creating a Hall of Fame and that I, along with six others whose illustrious company it astounded me to be included among, was to be one of the first inductees.

I instantly phoned my mother back in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Now, I thought, I would finally get the maternal seal of approval that I was still searching for at age sixty-one. She answered with her usual three syllables, “Hell-ohoh,” a sound that always seemed caught between a whine and a cry of pain. In my exultant mood, though, I heard it this time as if she’d exclaimed, at last, in a tone of naked delight, “Norman, sweetheart!”

“Mother,” I exploded, “I just got a confidential call from a friend. Nobody knows this yet so you can’t tell anyone, but the Television Academy is starting a Hall of Fame, and these will be the first inductees: the man who started NBC, General David Sarnoff; the founder of CBS, William S. Paley; maybe the greatest newscaster of all time, Edward R. Murrow; easily the best writer that ever came out of television, Paddy Chayefsky; the two greatest comedians in television history, Lucille Ball and Milton Berle; and . . . me!”

My mother didn’t miss a beat. “Listen,” she said, “if that’s what they want to do, who am I to say?” More…


New Nonfiction: The News Sorority: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour—and the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News by Sheila Weller

Sheila Weller is the author of The News Sorority. Full Bio

New Nonfiction: The News Sorority: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour—and the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News by Sheila Weller

INTRODUCTION

The News You Give Begins with the News You’ve Lived

Diane, Christiane, Katie: 1969, 1997, 2000

 

  1. Pushing Past Grief: Diane, 1969

 

Twenty-three-year-old Diane Sawyer (she used her real first name, Lila, ironically, only in affectionate letters) was working as the first ever full-time female news reporter in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky—on WLKY, Channel 32—in mid-September 1969. She had been on the job for two years, and she—a Wellesley graduate and former beauty queen—was itching to leave for a bigger opportunity, in the nation’s capital. Still, Diane’s years at WLKY had not been uneventful. More…


New Nonfiction: The Shifts and the Shocks: What We’ve Learned—and Have Still to Learn—from the Financial Crisis by Martin Wolf

New Nonfiction: The Shifts and the Shocks: What We’ve Learned—and Have Still to Learn—from the Financial Crisis by Martin Wolf

Preface: Why I Wrote this Book 

Can ‘It’–a Great Depression–happen again? And if ‘It’ can happen why didn’t ‘It’ occur in the years since World War II? These are questions that naturally follow from both the historical record and the comparative success of the past thirty-five years. To answer these questions it is necessary to have an economic theory which makes great depressions one of the possible states in which our type of capitalist economy can find itself. –Hyman Minsky, 1982 (1)

 

This book is about the way in which the financial and economic crises that hit the high-income countries after August 2007 have altered our world. But its analysis is rooted in how these shocks originated in prior shifts–the interactions between changes in the global economy and the financial system. It asks how these disturbing events will–and should–change the ways we think about economics. It also asks how they will–and should–change the policies followed by the affected countries and the rest of the world. More…


New Nonfiction: World Order by Henry Kissinger

New Nonfiction: World Order by Henry Kissinger

The Question of World Order

In 1961, as a young academic, I called on President Harry S. Truman when I found myself in Kansas City delivering a speech. To the question of what in his presidency had made him most proud, Truman replied, “That we totally defeated our enemies and then brought them back to the community of nations. I would like to think that only America would have done this.” Conscious of America’s vast power, Truman took pride above all in its humane and democratic values. He wanted to be remembered not so much for America’s victories as for its conciliations.  More…


New Nonfiction: I’ll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a Twist by Betty Halbreich

Betty Halbreich is the author of I'll Drink to That: A Life in Style, With A Twist. Full Bio

New Nonfiction: I’ll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a Twist by Betty Halbreich

In the 1930s, the South Side of Chicago was filled with good things: a dubonnet dress trimmed in white piqué; snowballs made from the inside of angel food cake hand-scooped out and rolled in homemade marshmallow and fresh coconut; the dining-room table set by Mother with china, silverware, starched linens, and an abundance of fruit and flowers; shopping at Kiddy Kicks, where an X-ray machine was used to fit shoes and make sure you were getting your money’s worth; the vegetable peddler’s heavily accented song floating up from his horse-drawn wagon to the third floor and through the window of my bedroom, where, awake but still, I dared not move until my nursemaid let me know it was time to rise.

Morning was easy, particularly because I always laid my clothes out the night before. They were a cheery greeting. My Best & Co. blouse hanging from the wardrobe was ironed using a special small board for the puff sleeves alone, so that they wouldn’t get creases. Its Peter Pan collar, which came on and off with fasteners for easy washing, was a snowy white. The topstitched knife pleats of a brown gingham skirt I chose as a well-suited companion had been pressed to razor sharpness. My patent-leather Mary Janes, the ones that required a buttonhook to fasten, had been treated with Vaseline, then buffed to a high shine with a cloth. More…


New Nonfiction: Why Football Matters: My Education in the Game by Mark Edmundson

New Nonfiction: Why Football Matters: My Education in the Game by Mark Edmundson

SONS AND FATHERS

I grew up watching football with my father. Starting when I was six years old, maybe seven, I watched Sunday games with him in our cramped apartment on Main Street in Malden, Massachusetts. It was 1958, 1959. We rooted for the New York Giants.

My father loved getting ready for the game. He pushed his king-dad’s chair into the middle of the living room, sat down, and tested it. Fine! Then he was up to work his hassock into place and to get his side table where he wanted it. He placed his smokes—Camels, non-filters—on the tabletop along with his matches and his ashtray. “My cigareets,” “my asheltray,” he called them. Who could say why? More…


New Fiction: The Invention of Exile by Vanessa Manko

New Fiction: The Invention of Exile by Vanessa Manko

Connecticut, 1913– 1920

He arrived in the United States in 1913 on a boat named Trieste. His face open, the brow smooth, eyes with the at once earnest, at once insecure gaze of hopeful, wanting youth. He began work fast. First at the Remington Arms Company, making ammunition for the Russian Imperial Army, rising up the ranks to become an inspector of the Mosin-Nagant rifle, and later working for the Hitchcock Gas Engine Company. In Bridgeport, Connecticut. His early mornings spent among the others. The hordes of men shuttling to and from factories in lines and masses of gray or black through the dim light of winter mornings and in the spring when the morning sun was like a secret, coy and sparkling, the water flashing on the sound.

They found each other, though. Through all of that, they, the Russians, found each other. They learned to spot each other through mannerisms, glances. This was later. In 1919. Then, the restrictions came at work and in the boardinghouse. More…


New Nonfiction: Bird Dream: Adventures at the Extremes of Human Flight by Matt Higgins

New Nonfiction: Bird Dream: Adventures at the Extremes of Human Flight by Matt Higgins

Who are these that fly like a cloud . . . ? —Isaiah 60:8

SATURDAY, JULY 16, 2011

On the morning that would make him famous, mountains upon mountains stretched to the horizon, and the air at seven thousand feet above sea level came cool and thin. An occasional gust bent thick grass on the ledge around his black boots. And more than a mile below, in a plush green valley, sun caught the waters of the Walensee and warmed cobblestones in a distant Swiss village along the lakeshore. It was one of those glorious days. The view, the sun and wind on your cheeks, made you grateful just to be alive.

“What do you reckon, ten miles an hour?” one of his companions asked Jeb about the wind. “Twelve?” Jeb was Jeb Corliss, a thirty-five-year-old stuntman and BASE jumper from California—“BASE” being an acronym for “buildings, antennas, spans (bridges), and earth (cliffs),” the primary objects that practitioners leap from. Jeb had plunged from the Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Falls, in Venezuela, and the Petronas Towers, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; from countless mountainsides; and into a cave in Mexico more than a thousand feet deep. With a thousand jumps and counting, he was one of the leading lights in the most dangerous sport yet devised.

“More,” Jeb replied, not taking note of the scenery, his mouth hard-set, conveying the seriousness of what he was about to attempt.

More…


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