Culture

Review: ‘Primal Screams’ by Mary Eberstadt

Youth use identity politics to cope with boomers' mistakes, family breakdowns

In her new book Primal Screams, Mary Eberstadt manages the nearly impossible: finding something new—and worthwhile—to say about identity politics. It'd be fair to wonder whether we really needed one more take on the topic. Plenty already exist, many of them either to virtue signal or take swings at the easy punching bag that millennials are. But for all that's already been said about identity politics, there's one big question nobody's answered: Why do young people find it so appealing?

Former College Tour Guide Reveals All

Let me tell you about meal plans!

Georgetown UniversityThere's a very interesting piece in the Atlantic by Adam Harris on the college tour guide experience. Or at least I found it interesting having been a tour guide myself. In fact, Harris spends time with Jaydon Skinner, a Blue and Gray tour guide at Georgetown University—I was one too, albeit 27 years earlier.

Review: The Mosquito by Timothy Winegard

Timothy Winegard’s history of our most constant pest

Here's an odd, interesting, and mostly useless fact: The word canopy, meaning an awning or covering, derives from kónops, an Ancient Greek word for mosquito. And here's another odd fact: The word canapé—the bite-sized bit of cocktail-party food—derives from the same root. It's mosquitoes, all the way down.

Review: ‘Thank You For My Service’

From Balad to Black Rifle

Beneath layers of playful, irreverent humor, Mat Best’s memoir Thank You For My Service is a serious book about a former U.S. Army Ranger navigating his way back into civilian life, overcoming an addiction to war, and trying to support his fellow veterans.

The Case of the Disappearing Editors

We few, we happy few…

editor writerA few years after I joined the Weekly Standard, then-literary editor Joseph Bottum asked if I was more interested in writing or editing. I said the latter. I never wrote for a school paper and only had a few clips at the magazine. Over time, I hoped to gain the confidence to make writing a full-time occupation. But until then, editing would be my safety net, allowing me to hide behind other people's bylines, looking for typos, grammatical errors, and eventually matters of style. Bottum gave me all sorts of advice, sharing various tricks of the trade, and went on to explain how he stole the hands off Healy's clock tower in Georgetown. Did I mention this was at a bar?

Continetti in Claremont Review of Books: Jill Abramson’s ‘Merchants of Truth’

A gossipy, pointed look at digital media's impact on the news industry

media newspapersI have a review of former New York Times editor Jill Abramson's Merchants of Truth in the summer 2019 issue of the Claremont Review of Books. I was somewhat surprised to find I enjoyed her gossipy, pointed look at digital media's impact on the news industry. On the other hand, I wasn't surprised when Abramson became embroiled in controversy over plagiarism and editorial sloppiness. That's the media for you. Below is the first third of the review. You can read the rest here.

Review: Ruth Reichl’s ‘Save Me the Plums’

She ate, she wrote, she conquered

Ruth Reichl /For Ruth Reichl, one memoir is not enough. Her early years were covered in Tender at the Bone. Then came her career as an L.A. Times food critic in Comfort Me with Apples (where she also confesses to infidelity). In Garlic and Sapphires she chronicles her stint as the New York Times's often incognito restaurant reviewer. For You Mom, Finally grapples with Reichl's relationship with her mentally unstable mother. And now there's Save Me the Plums, which covers Reichl's tenure at Gourmet—right up to its untimely demise.