We loved the beginning of this review:

When Geoff Dyer came aboard the U.S.S. George H. W. Bush for his 14-day stay, he had his Ping-Pong paddle securely stowed but had misplaced his notebook. Too tall, spindly, self-described as “a leftover from a novel Graham Greene had decided not to write,” he had managed through a stubbornness born of sheer neurotic panic to wheedle his way, despite considerable and justified resistance from the United States Navy, into private quarters on the giant but very crowded vessel: the Vice-Presidential Room, no less. His report of his first day on board is a nonstop string of complaints: The noise is unbearable, he keeps knocking his head on the low ceilings and hatches, the spaghetti is cold and the lettuce inedible, the oil fumes are overwhelming, the temperature is like a blast furnace, the air is toxic, the ocean glitters but is spoiled by a sky greased with jet fuel. Dyer admits he is constitutionally incapable of adjusting to new environments; in fact, the only thing he’s grown accustomed to, over the years, is that he never gets used to things. This is the same man who, when asked by a friend (Alain de Botton) if he would like to spend some time writing in an interesting and relaxing environment, immediately replied: Put me on an American aircraft carrier.

I think the degree to which this resembles a sexual confession is not entirely coincidental. Learned (two-syllable pronunciation) papers and studies exist on the sexuality of guns, focusing always on the rather obvious phallic resemblance of the hand-held gun and the male organ; comfortable grip, extension, ejection, consequences of improper use … the list goes on.

The gun-confiscation paranoid mind-set is seen in these studies as — what else? — castration fear. And there’s the unfailing potency of the gun as a substitute for the failing potency of, well, you know. As Gore Vidal said, you can always get your gun up.

Legendary talk show host and upcoming guest Dick Cavett ruminates on his former ardor for guns and the weapon’s latent equation with sexuality, via the NYTimes
NWBy Zadie Smith
"Smith’s piercing new novel, her first in seven years, traces the friendship of two women who grew up in a housing project in northwest London, their lives disrupted by fateful choices and the brutal efficiency of chance. The narrative edges forward in fragments, uncovering truths about identity and money and sex with incandescent language that, for all of its formal experimentation, is intimate and searingly direct."
BUILDING STORIESBy Chris Ware
"Ware’s innovative graphic novel deepens and enriches the form by breaking it apart. Packaged in a large box like a board game, the project contains 14 ‘easily misplaced elements’ — pamphlets, books, foldout pages — that together follow the residents of a Chicago triplex (and one anthropomorphized bee) through their ordinary lives. In doing so, it tackles universal themes including art, sex, family and existential loneliness in a way that’s simultaneously playful and profound."
via NYTimes’ "10 Best Books of 2012" 
Congratulations to both Zadie and Chris for writing two of the 10 best books of the year! We’re thrilled to have them as our closing guests for the season on December 11 and hope you’ll join us in welcoming these masters of their crafts to the stage. (It also doesn’t hurt that they’re pretty much in friend-love with each other already.)

NW
By Zadie Smith

"Smith’s piercing new novel, her first in seven years, traces the friendship of two women who grew up in a housing project in northwest London, their lives disrupted by fateful choices and the brutal efficiency of chance. The narrative edges forward in fragments, uncovering truths about identity and money and sex with incandescent language that, for all of its formal experimentation, is intimate and searingly direct."

BUILDING STORIES
By Chris Ware

"Ware’s innovative graphic novel deepens and enriches the form by breaking it apart. Packaged in a large box like a board game, the project contains 14 ‘easily misplaced elements’ — pamphlets, books, foldout pages — that together follow the residents of a Chicago triplex (and one anthropomorphized bee) through their ordinary lives. In doing so, it tackles universal themes including art, sex, family and existential loneliness in a way that’s simultaneously playful and profound."

via NYTimes’ "10 Best Books of 2012"

Congratulations to both Zadie and Chris for writing two of the 10 best books of the year! We’re thrilled to have them as our closing guests for the season on December 11 and hope you’ll join us in welcoming these masters of their crafts to the stage. (It also doesn’t hurt that they’re pretty much in friend-love with each other already.)

His father was most touched, Iyer speculates, by the observation that the truest enemy anybody confronts is internal, is one’s own self. His father died in June of that year. “The Man Within My Head” is the product of more than a decade of Pico Iyer’s reflections about the dual influences his father and Greene exerted upon him.

It’s peculiar, reading Iyer’s deeply felt revisitation of his own experiences and his recapitulation of Greene’s, to come across his comment that, “I’d never drunk; I never felt the need to escape unhappiness or bring new drama into my life.” One wonders why a man possessed of such equilibrium would feel an irresistible pull to someone like Greene — considering that Greene did drink, did feel the need to escape unhappiness and did foist so many dramas upon himself. But this seeming paradox doesn’t constitute a contradiction — or, at least, not one that exceeds the contradictory nature of any person’s self-image. It’s “only through another, sometimes,” Iyer writes, that you can “see yourself with shocking clarity. A real father is too close for comfort.”

Liesl Schillinger, “Pico Iyer’s Kinship with Graham Greene”

Read Schillinger’s NYTimes review of Pico Iyer’s recent memoir, The Man Within My Head. She makes wonderful connections and references that can only lead you to a deeper hole of worthwhile reading. Iyer will be coming to LIVE on February 7.