A Visitor—From the Future

When I started drafting this review of James Gleick’s Time Travel: A History, I had a severe case of writer’s block. I stared at my computer, at the keyboard, at the book itself. All in vain. No words came. So I walked away from my computer, hoping that doing something else would help. Suddenly, there was a brilliant flash of light. Shielding my eyes from the blinding beam, I saw a shadow emerge from a portal in front of me. When the portal disappeared, the light went with it, and I could make out the shadow. It was me. “What’s going on?” I asked myself, and… my self.

Thomas De Quincey: Father of Addiction Lit

Frances Wilson ends her rife-with-scandals, name-droppy biography of Thomas De Quincey—the English opium eater from the celebrated “Confessions of an English Opium Eater”—by citing Borges, that author of fragmentary parables that presented culture as a hall of mirrors, with books echoing books and intellect lost in the labyrinth of literature. Borges wrote of De Quincey that “for years, I thought that the almost infinite world of literature was one man.” Wilson concludes: “We are all De Quinceyan now.”

My Day With Some Nasty Women

NEW YORK—“Excuse me, are you a nasty woman?”

I don’t actually say it because the lady walking her terrier looks very kind and pleasant. I’m also wary of the policeman standing next to the Taste of Home gingerbread house here in Madison Square Park, where I’ve been walking in circles up to my ankles in slush for half an hour wishing I had thought to bring boots and trying to decide whether I’m brave enough to Google “Nuva ring.” Ten minutes ago the officer took it upon himself to remind me that there is no smoking in city parks. I probably shouldn’t push my luck.