TIME Books

Jacqueline Woodson Responds to Racist Watermelon Joke

Handler's remarks "came from a place of ignorance," the National Book Award winner says

Jacqueline Woodson, the National Book Award winner for the young adult memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, addressed in a recent op-ed the racist watermelon joke made by her author friend Daniel Handler, two weeks ago.

Woodson, who is black, recalls in the New York Times piece how she grew up eating watermelon during summers in her southern childhood, and writes about her subsequent revulsion to the fruit—perhaps because of the watermelon’s loaded and race-ridden history.

…I had seen the racist representations associated with African-Americans and watermelons, heard the terrifying stories of black men being lynched with watermelons hanging around them, watched black migrants from the South try to eke out a living in the big city by driving through neighborhoods like my own — Bushwick, in Brooklyn — with trucks loaded down with the fruit.

In a book I found at the library, a camp song about a watermelon vine was illustrated with caricatures of sleepy-looking black people sitting by trees, grinning and eating watermelon. Slowly, the hideousness of the stereotype began to sink in. In the eyes of those who told and repeated the jokes, we were shuffling, googly-eyed and lesser than.

Woodson says that her friend Handler’s joke at the National Book Awards, in which he racially poked fun at Woodson’s allergy to watermelon, “came from a place of ignorance” and “showed that he believed we were at a point where we could laugh about it all.”

Handler, who is the author behind Lemony Snicket of the Series of Unfortunate Events, has apologized for his joke and has since helped raise tens of thousands of dollars to help diversify children’s literature.

You can read Woodson’s full column here.

TIME Books

Crime Novelist P.D. James Dies at 94

Oxford Literary Festival
Author P.D. James poses for a portrait at the Oxford Literary Festival on April 9, 2011 in Oxford, England. David Levenson—Getty Images

The British writer was known as “the Queen of Crime” for her popular mystery novels

British crime writer Phyllis Dorothy James White — who wrote under the name P.D. James — has died at her home in Oxford, England, it was announced Thursday. She was 94.

James, who wrote more than 20 books, was known as “the Queen of Crime,” for her fiction. Some of her best-known works included The Children of Men, which was adapted into a film in 2006, The Murder Room and Death Comes to Pemberley, a spin-off of Pride and Prejudice.

Born in Oxford in August 1920, James did not publish her first novel, Cover Her Face, until she was 42. She went on to become an international success, with many of works being adapted for the screen. She was also awarded the Crime Writers’ Association’s Diamond Dagger award in 1987 for lifetime achievement and the Medal of Honor for Literature in 2005 by National Arts Club. In 1991, she was named a Conservative life peer under the title Baroness James of Holland Park.

James told the BBC last year that she was working on another novel, though she noted, “With old age, it becomes very difficult. It takes longer for the inspiration to come, but the thing about being a writer is that you need to write.”

The news of James’s death was announced by her UK publisher Faber & Faber. In a statement, the publisher said of James: “She was so very remarkable in every aspect of her life, an inspiration and great friend to us all. It is a privilege to publish her extraordinary books. Working with her was always the best of times, full of joy. We will miss her hugely.”

[BBC]

TIME Books

Someone Discovered a Shakespeare Folio in a Small Library in France

Remy Cordonnier, librarian in the northern town of Saint-Omer, near Calais carefully shows an example of a valuable Shakespeare "First Folio", a collection of some of his plays, dating from 1623.
Remy Cordonnier, librarian in the northern town of Saint-Omer, near Calais carefully shows an example of a valuable Shakespeare "First Folio", a collection of some of his plays, dating from 1623. Denis Charlet—AFP/Getty Images

To be or not to be: That is not a question anymore for the newly authenticated literary discovery

A previously undiscovered Shakespeare folio has surfaced in northern France, a finding that could shed new light on the playwright’s intentions and early readership.

The book, whose title page and introductory material were worn off, was discovered by librarians at a public library in St.-Omer near Calais, reports the New York Times. It is one of only 233 known surviving first folios by the Bard.

“First folios don’t turn up very often, and when they do, it’s usually a really chewed up, uninteresting copy. But this one is magnificent,” Eric Rasmussen, an American Shakespeare expert, told the Times. Rasmussen was summoned to France over the weekendby the St.-Omer library’s director of medieval and early modern collections, Rémy Cordonnier, to confirm the volume’s authenticity.

The newly discovered folio was inherited from a long-defunct Jesuit college and could refuel the debate over whether the Hamlet scribe was secretly Catholic. The newly-discovered volume also contains handwritten notes that may illuminate how the plays were formed in Shakespeare’s time.

Printed in a batch of 800 copies in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death, the first folios are considered the only reliable text of half his plays, and they are intensely scrutinized by scholars for minute differences and corrections made by print shops that can reveal the playwright’s intentions. In 2006, a first folio sold for $6.8 million at Christie’s.

[New York Times]

TIME Books

Previously Unknown Letter from Camus to Sartre Discovered

Albert Camus LIDO/SIPA—AP

The missive was written only months before the friends fell out, and was found above a collector's fireplace

A previously unknown letter from Albert Camus to Jean-Paul Sartre has been unearthed after hanging above an autograph collector’s fireplace for decades.

The long missive is believed to have been written in March or April of 1951, shortly before the two famous French author-philosophers fell out, Agence France-Presse reports.

Writing from his apartment in Paris, Camus among other things recommends Spanish actress Aminda Valls for one of Sartre’s plays, calling her a “marvel of humanity.”

An autograph collector acquired the letter in the 1970s and kept it framed in his home until recently, when it was passed to a bookseller and subsequently sold to a French collector.

Camus published The Rebel about six months after writing the letter, and Sartre went on to criticize the book. This led to the demise of their amicable relationship, and Sartre destroying almost all of their correspondence.

[AFP]

TIME Books

A TV Thanksgiving Dinner: Recipes Inspired by Your Favorite Shows

Channel your TV-watching into an original holiday meal with recipes based on Orange Is The New Black, Downton Abbey and other hit shows

If the stress of holiday cooking makes you want to curl up on the couch and binge watch old episodes of Portlandia, you can combine your fondness for addictive TV-watching with your desire to eat a decent holiday meal. Here’s a menu made up of recipes from new cookbooks based on some of your favorite shows. (After all, what soooort of rhymes with Kardashian? Tryptophan.)

 

 

  • FIRST COURSE

    Nick Briggs

    Cream of Watercress Soup

    From A Year in The Life of Downton Abbey, by Jessica Fellowes

    If you’re counting down the days until the January 4th season premiere, this photo-packed cookbook may help ease the wait. Nestled between hints about the upcoming season and behind-the-scenes shots are 24 classic British recipes, including one for this elegant soup.

    3 ½ tablespoons butter
    1 large onion, peeled and chopped
    1 large leek (white part only), washed and sliced
    1 large potato, peeled and chopped
    Salt and pepper
    3 cups hot chicken stock or water
    9 cups watercress, de-stalked and chopped (can substitute sorrel or spinach)
    Large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
    ⅔ cup light cream

    Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan, then add the onion, leek and potato and stir to coat them in the butter. Season with salt and pepper, turn the heat to low and let the vegetables sweat with the lid on for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the vegetables are tender, add the hot stock or water. Bring back to the boil, then add the watercress and cook for a further 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Take the pan off the heat and liquidise the soup. Stir in the cream and pour into bowls to serve. Serves 4.

    Copyright © 2014, reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.

  • SECOND COURSE

    Shrimp Saganaki

    From The Portlandia Cookbook, by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein with Jonathan Krisel

    The show that lovingly parodies all things Portland has spawned an eclectic collection of recipes for foodies and freegans alike, such as this variation on sautéed shrimp.

    ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1 large onion, thinly sliced
    Crushed red pepper flakes
    1½ pounds ripe plum tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped with seeds
    1½ pounds cleaned and deveined medium shrimp
    ½ cup (about 3 ounces) pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
    Kosher salt
    ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
    6 ounces Greek feta, crumbled

    In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and red pepper flakes and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until softened, crushing with the back of a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes longer. Add the shrimp and olives and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are curled and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Stir in half the dill and half the feta and cook just until the cheese is heated through, about 1 minute. Transfer to plates, sprinkle with the remaining dill and feta, and serve with crusty bread. Serves 4 to 6.

  • THE MAIN EVENT

    HNA7366r1+OITNB_interior_7_24.indd
    finearts

    Pennsatucky’s Family Beer Can Bird from Orange Is the New Black Presents: The Cookbook, by Jenji Kohan and Tara Hermann

    Remember when Crazy Eyes went nuts in the cafeteria and hurled a piece of pie at Alex? Now you can make that same dessert and 50 other treats to remind you of the funniest/saddest/craziest moments at Litchfield prison—including the entree to your TV dinner.

    For the rub:
    2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
    2 teaspoons smoked paprika
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    1 teaspoon onion powder
    1 teaspoon dried thyme
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    2 teaspoons salt
    ½ teaspoon ground cayenne

    One 12- to 14-pound (5.5- to 6.25-kg) free-range turkey
    1 medium chunk of smoking wood, such as apple wood
    One 24- or 25-ounce (740-ml) can of beer

    Fire up a smoker or grill to 325F (160C) on one side. In a small bowl, combine all the rub ingredients. Remove and discard the neck and giblets from the turkey. Rinse the turkey under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the cavity with about 1 tablespoon of the rub. Using your fingers, gently separate the skin from the meat underneath the breasts and around the thighs. Spread about 1 tablespoon of the rub under the breast and thighs. Open the beer can and pour yourself about one third of the beer. Make a few more openings in the can using a can opener and leave the rest of the beer in the can. Add about 1 tablespoon of the rub to the beer can. Sprinkle the remaining rub into the cavity of the turkey and all over the turkey, inserting it under the skin.

    When the grill comes up to temperature, add the wood chunk. When the wood ignites and starts to smoke, place the beer can on the grill over the unheated portion. Carefully lower the turkey onto the beer can, legs down. Adjust the legs so the bird is stable on the grill. (If it’s hard to get it to stay stable, you could place the bird, beer in butt, in a roasting pan before placing it on the grill.) Cover and smoke until an instant-read thermometer registers 160F (70C) in the thickest part of the breast, 2 to 3 hours. Remove the turkey from the smoker, place it on a carving board, and let it rest for about 20 minutes. Remove the beer can, carve, and serve.

  • SIDE DISH

    Herbed Garlic Bread from In the Kitchen With Kris, by Kris Jenner

    Even if you can’t afford a personal chef or Hermès china for your celebrity offspring, you can still get a taste of the Kardashian life. Here’s an amped-up garlic bread recipe to go with dinner:

    6 garlic gloves, minced
    2 teaspoons olive oil
    4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    ¼ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
    2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 large, elongated crusty bread, such as ciabatta, cut in half horizontally

    Preheat over to 350°F. Heat the garlic and olive oil together in a small skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is tender but not browned, about 2 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a medium bowl and let cool completely. In the same medium bowl, combine the Parmesan, parsley, oregano, and thyme. Using a rubber spatula, mash the mixture together until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide and spread the herb mixture on the cut sides of the bread. Wrap the loaf in a double thickness of aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Open up the foil and continue baking until the loaf is crisp, about 5 minutes, Cut into 1-inch wide slices and serve warm. Makes 8 to 12 servings.

  • DESSERT

    Blue Meth Crunch from Baking Bad, by Walter Wheat

    How did Walt get his bake so pure? You won’t learn Heisenberg’s secret recipe in this hilarious (and drug-free) parody cookbook inspired by Breaking Bad. But you will find novelties like Mr. White’s Tighty Whitey Bites, Ricin Krispie Squares and this blue rock candy:

    ½ cup (118ml) water
    ¾ cup (177ml) light corn syrup
    Do not use chili powder. It’s for amateurs
    14 ounces (350g) granulated sugar
    2 teaspoons (10ml) peppermint extract
    Blue gel food coloring
    You will need a candy thermometer

    Line a baking tray with aluminum foil, or use a heatproof glass tray. Spray with non-stick baking spray. Find yourself a decent accomplice. Underachieving ex-students are a good choice, though psychologically fragile. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup and sugar. Stir the mixture over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then turn up the heat to bring to a boil. Stop stirring and insert the thermometer and use a pastry brush dipped in water to wet the sides of the pan (this will prevent crystals forming). Cook the mixture until the temperature reaches 285F(140C). Immediately remove the pan from the heat and take out the thermometer. Let the mixture stand until all the bubbles have stopped forming on the surface.

    At some point you’re going to need a distributor. But don’t worry about that now. Add a few drops of peppermint flavoring and enough blue color to give the correct Blue Meth hue. Quickly pour the mixture onto the baking tray, lifting the tray from side to side to spread the mix. Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly smooth or has holes in it. Let the candy cool to room temperature. Once the candy has cooled, use a hammer to break it up. Put into little plastic baggies or serve as is, whichever your clients prefer.

    All recipes reprinted with permission.

TIME Books

Children’s Author Helps Raise Thousands After Racist Remark

Daniel Handler 2014 National Book Awards
Daniel Handler at the 2014 National Book Awards on Nov. 19, 2014 in New York. Robin Marchant—Getty Images

The man behind Lemony Snicket is making good on an apology

Daniel Handler, also known as the children’s author Lemony Snicket of A Series of Unfortunate Events fame, added a financial pledge to his apology for making a “watermelon joke” about a black author at the National Book Awards.

The author apologized Wednesday for telling a racially-charged anecdote at the National Book Awards while presenting the award for Young People’s Literature to Jacqueline Woodson the previous day. At the event, he said,

I told you! I told Jackie she was going to win. And I said that if she won, I would tell all of you something I learned this summer, which is that Jackie Woodson is allergic to watermelon. Just let that sink in your mind. And I said you have to put that in a book. And she said, ‘You put that in a book.’ And I said, ‘I am only writing a book about a black girl who is allergic to watermelon if I get a blurb from you, Cornel West, Toni Morrison and Barack Obama saying, “This guy’s okay! This guy’s fine!’

Handler was widely criticized for blemishing the award with the racist crack, but he promptly apologized on Twitter the following day. And on Thursday, he announced he was pledging $10,000 to an online fund to diversify children’s literature, and would match contributors’ money for 24 hours up to $100,000.

The campaign on Indiegogo, which has been running since October 23, has raised a total of $165,669 as of Saturday.

Observers on Twitter praised Handler’s follow-up to his remarks, according to tweets culled by the Washington Post.

TIME Bill Cosby

Missing Allegations in Cosby Biography Fuel a Lie of Omission

Bill Cosby, Camille Cosby
Bill Cosby sits for an interview about the exhibit, Conversations: African and African-American Artworks in Dialogue, at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art in Washington on Nov. 6, 2014. Evan Vucci—AP

Steve Weinberg, Professor Emeritus at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, has published biographies of Armand Hammer and Ida Tarbell.

Mark Whitaker had a responsibility in telling the life story of Bill Cosby to include thoroughly reported and longstanding allegations against the entertainer

Mark Whitaker wants you to purchase his biography of Bill Cosby. As a biographer myself, I want you to purchase biographies galore, including those I write. But despite my book buying habit, I will refrain from owning Cosby: His Life and Times.

Whitaker made a decision to exclude allegations from at least thirteen women that Cosby sexually assaulted them—he says their allegations failed to meet his standards of proof. Biographers must make difficult decisions in every paragraph they publish, because reputations ought to be handled with care. Whitaker’s decision, though, should not have been difficult. As an experienced journalist, he made a bad call.

In an interview yesterday, Whitaker mentioned being unable to confirm the rape allegations independent of the victims’ accounts, as there were no definitive court findings regarding the allegations. “What you eventually learn about everything related to these allegations, and how you think that should figure in your ultimate judgment of Bill Cosby has to be weighed—and should be weighed—in the balance with a lot of the stuff I reported in the book more thoroughly than anybody else,” he said. It’s hard to consider Whitaker a reliable reporter considering what he has left out; his standards are not only unrealistic, but also unwise and irresponsible for a biographer who wants to present a complete picture of his subject.

Biographers know that circumstantial evidence is as valid—and perhaps as necessary—for inclusion as direct evidence, as long as the circumstantial evidence accumulates at a certain level. Rarely do rapists assault their victims in front of witnesses. Is Whitaker suggesting that all biographers ignore detailed rape charges issued by women—ones who identify themselves, no less—against iconic, influential, wealthy men because nobody else was in the room?

Many of the alleged violent encounters between Cosby and various women occurred more than a decade before publication of Whitaker’s biography. In 2005, Andrea Constand filed a lawsuit in a Philadelphia court; on the heels of her charges, twelve other women came forward, ready to testify on behalf of the plaintiff that they had been sexually assaulted by Cosby. The then-prosecutor decided there was not sufficient evidence to criminally charge Cosby—”I remember thinking that he probably did do something inappropriate,” the lawyer recently said, “But thinking that and being able to prove it are two different things”—but Cosby settled a civil suit with Constand.

In 2006, journalist Robert Huber published a painstakingly detailed article, “Dr. Huxtable and Mr. Hyde,” in Philadelphia magazine about the litigation. Other journalists have reported responsibly about the allegations. If Whitaker had at minimum simply mentioned the findings of those journalists in his book, he might have escaped the criticism now aimed at him.

Yes, many potential and actual readers of Whitaker’s biography idolize Cosby. And yes, some of them—a tiny minority, I believe—prefer sanitized biography. Hagiography, if you will. No drunken bouts, no snorting cocaine, and certainly nothing involving sexual acts—especially rape.

But responsible biographers never set out to produce hagiography or pathography. They set out to find truth. That may sound inflated; after all, many of us do not really know our parents, our spouses, our children, our cousins, our social friends. If those folks surprise us, for better or for worse, can we ever know a stranger? Armand Hammer was elderly but alive while I researched his biography during the 1980s. He expressed hostility from the start, threatened to sue me, and did indeed sue me and the publisher. I never met him. So how can I presume to know the truth about his controversial life?

The answer is not so complicated. Pieces of the truth are scattered around the world—in official government documents at the city, county, state and federal levels; in business correspondence; in personal letters; in interviews with relatives and friends and enemies, current and former. I knew Hammer’s son Julian had personal problems, but I was not planning to provide lots of detail to readers. Then my research turned up evidence that Julian had killed a man in college. At trial, he won an acquittal, possibly because of influence exercised by his father in relation to the prosecutor and one or more of the jurors. I included the death in my book. First, all individuals, including Armand Hammer, who choose to become parents should be evaluated in that role. Second, the possibility of tampering with the criminal justice system certainly allows for a more nuanced understanding of the alleged tamperer’s character.

I liken the information-gathering process to vacuuming a house—everything finds its way into the vacuum bag. When the bag is filled, the biographer examines the contents, deciding what to place in the book and what to omit. The decision-making might seem filled with conundrums, but it should be clear-cut if the overriding purpose is to illuminate an individual’s character on the path to truth. That overriding purpose should be the same whether the subject is cooperating with the biographer, as Cosby did with Whitaker, or whether the subject is hostile, as Hammer was with me. And access should not equal acquiescence.

At minimum, Whitaker should have decided that the multiple allegations of sexual assault affected Cosby’s own life so deeply that they needed to be included in the book. Based on his evaluation of the evidence, Whitaker could have told readers that he doubted the allegations. Or he could have told readers that the allegations existed—an objective fact. Whatever Whitaker concluded about the evidence, he needed to tell readers how Cosby reacted, and why he might have reacted as he did. Instead, Whitaker participated in a biographical cover-up—a classic lie of omission. That is never an acceptable decision for the chronicler of somebody else’s life.

 

Steve Weinberg, Professor Emeritus at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, has published biographies of Armand Hammer and Ida Tarbell, plus written a book about the craft of biography, Telling the Untold Story. He is a founding member of Biographers International Organization (BIO). Weinberg is currently researching a biography of Garry Trudeau.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME psychology

These Books Can Teach You to Be the Best at Anything

books
Getty Images

Eric Barker writes Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

After my post What does it take to become an expert at anything? a number of people have written, curious about where to learn more on the subject.

A few of the best sources I pulled from are below, with links and descriptions:

Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success

“Backed by cutting-edge scientific research and case studies, Syed shatters long-held myths about meritocracy, talent, performance, and the mind. He explains why some people thrive under pressure and others choke, and weighs the value of innate ability against that of practice, hard work, and will.”

Check it out here.

Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To

“Dr. Sian Beilock, an expert on performance and brain science, reveals inChoke the astonishing new science of why we all too often blunder when the stakes are high. What happens in our brain and body when we experience the dreaded performance anxiety? And what are we doing differently when everything magically “clicks” into place and the perfect golf swing, tricky test problem, or high-pressure business pitch becomes easy?”

Check it out here.

Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries

“Based on deep and extensive research, including more than 200 interviews with leading innovators, Sims discovered that productive, creative thinkers and doers—from Ludwig van Beethoven to Thomas Edison and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos—practice a key set of simple but ingenious experimental methods—such as failing quickly to learn fast, tapping into the genius of play, and engaging in highly immersed observation—that free their minds, opening them up to making unexpected connections and perceiving invaluable insights.”

Check it out here.

The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills

“It is an easy-to-use handbook of scientifically proven, field-tested methods to improve skills—your skills, your kids’ skills, your organization’s skills—in sports, music, art, math, and business. The product of five years of reporting from the world’s greatest talent hotbeds and interviews with successful master coaches, it distills the daunting complexity of skill development into 52 clear, concise directives.”

Check it out here.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

“World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, in decades of research on achievement and success, has discovered a truly groundbreaking idea–the power of our mindset. Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success–but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset.”

Check it out here.

Nine Things Successful People Do Differently

“Decades of research on achievement suggests people at the top of their game tend to reach their goals because of what they do—not because of who they are. In this short, provocative, and useful HBR Single, motivational psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson translates the psychological secrets of these winning human beings for your use. ”

Check it out here.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

“Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects.”

Check it out here.

Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else

“According to distinguished journalist Geoff Colvin, both the hard work and natural talent camps are wrong. What really makes the difference is a highly specific kind of effort-“deliberate practice”-that few of us pursue when we’re practicing golf or piano or stockpicking. Based on scientific research, Talent is Overrated shares the secrets of extraordinary performance and shows how to apply these principles.”

Check it out here.

The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How

“Drawing on cutting-edge neurology and firsthand research gathered on journeys to nine of the world’s talent hotbeds—from the baseball fields of the Caribbean to a classical-music academy in upstate New York—Coyle identifies the three key elements that will allow you to develop your gifts and optimize your performance in sports, art, music, math, or just about anything.”

Check it out here.

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME movies

How a 1960s Literary Trend Brought Us The Hunger Games

Hunger Games: Mockingjay
Murray Close—Lionsgate

Dystopian fiction used to be for adults

As Katniss & Co. get ready to storm movie theaters this weekend with Mockingjay, the latest installment in The Hunger Games series, it may seem like a foregone conclusion that futuristic teenagers will have to battle an oppressive dystopian regime alongside their crushes.

But it wasn’t always that way. As TIME’s Lev Grossman wrote back in 2012 while exploring the history of the teen romance-dystopia genre in books and movies, until the 1960s — notably, with the release of the Tripod series by Christopher Samuel Youd — dystopia wasn’t for teenagers. Books like 1984 and Brave New World are seen as classics of grown-up literature; during the last 50 years, their analogues have usually been meant for teenagers.

But that doesn’t mean that the genre hasn’t changed further during that half-century:

The Hunger Games is every bit as grim as the Tripod books, but it also tells us a lot about how the future, and the present, has changed since the 1960s. Now we have a great tradition of strong female characters in young-adult fiction thanks to writers like Madeleine L’Engle, Judy Blume and Anne McCaffrey. And along with coed dystopias comes, inevitably, romance: it’s understood now that if you’re fighting to save the human race, you’re going to have to deal with a star-crossed crush at the same time. If the Tripod books were published today (they’ve been reissued with covers that make them look like novelizations of the boy’s-own science-fiction cartoon Ben 10), Will Parker would fall for a tough fellow resistance member with a fetching pageboy haircut over her mind-control cap. Or better yet, a Tripod would crack open and disgorge a nubile, sufficiently humanoid alienne.

Read the full article here: Love Among the Ruins

TIME Business

Execs Like Emil Michael Don’t Hate Women—They’re Terrified of Them

Emil Michael senior vice president of business for Uber Technologies Inc. stands for a photograph after a Bloomberg Television interview in San Francisco on July 29, 2014.
Emil Michael senior vice president of business for Uber Technologies Inc. stands for a photograph after a Bloomberg Television interview in San Francisco on July 29, 2014. Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Laura Kipnis is the author of Men: Notes from an Ongoing Investigation.

Uber mensches they are not—they're simply scared, and women should not contribute to their power

In Neil LaBute’s coruscating black comedy In the Company of Men, two reptilian male executives concoct a scheme to deceive and emotionally humiliate a vulnerable deaf secretary who works at the branch office they’ve been temporarily assigned to. The plan is to shower her with attention, get her to fall in love with both of them, then simultaneously drop her. Why? Because they can. Because they’re angry at women. Because they think women have power over them.

Over the last few days we witnessed a scenario that could have been authored by LaBute, our bard of misogyny, play out in real life, a terrific satire about corporate America, sexual swaggering and contemporary masculine angst, improvised by a couple of executives at Uber. Yes, in case you haven’t heard, another male in a position of power has created another dungstorm by making ill-considered remarks in a public setting; the usual swell of public indignation has ensued.

“His remarks showed a lack of leadership, a lack of humanity, and a departure from our values and ideals,” tweeted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, about Emil Michael, his senior vice president of business. Kalanick was referring to threats Michael issued at a dinner attended by a number of prominent journalists, involving a harebrained plan to do opposition research aimed at Uber-critical journalists. He was going to dig up dirt on their personal lives, their families, and give the media a taste of its own medicine. Michael later said he thought the dinner was off the record, and that he was just venting, not serious.

Why am I so much less outraged than everyone seems to be about the story? To begin with, who ever thought such guys were role models for enlightened masculinity anyway? Social responsibility? Come on. New corporations and start-ups come and go these days in a flurry of mergers, acquisitions and rebranding, in it for a quick payday. They owe no one anything—not in their eyes, anyway. The Great Recession was brought to us by just such swashbucklers, who still believe they earn their unconscionable incomes by taking insane risks with other people’s money and turning the economy into a casino. Ever since Reagan, corporate America’s indifference to any value other than profits has been writ large in their refusal to pay their fair share of taxes. They’re not role models for anyone other than pirates.

The mistake is to regard Uber and its execs are though they’re the exception to something. Indifference to customers? Sounds like the airlines. Silicon Valley corporate greed? It pales compared to Wall Street corporate greed. Misogynist mud-throwing aimed at a threatening woman? Consider the ongoing and deeply ugly Republican war on Hillary Clinton.

In this case it was one woman in particular— Sarah Lacy, editor of the Silicon Valley website PandoDaily—who was the special target of Michael’s animus. Lacy has repeatedly taken Uber to task for what she calls the company’s outrageous sexism, including CEO Kalanick’s boasts that he gets so much “tail” since starting Uber that the company should really be called “Boober.”

Her response to hearing about Michael’s dinner-party threats, Lacy has recently written, was a shocked sense of her own vulnerability, and fears for her children’s well-being. She imagined them at home in their kitten and dinosaur pajamas and felt terror.

The pajamas are a nice touch (heartstrings tugged!). But what Lacy neglects to say is that she has these guys running scared. They’re afraid of her. Lacy should be taking a victory lap. Her opponents are acting like “scared little girls” in the current idiom—they’re simply masking it behind a lot of macho posturing. Which is exactly what most macho posturing generally comes down to: fear of one sort or another. And pathos. And, vulnerability, real or imaginary. We have a habit of forgetting that.

Let me say something else that might be controversial. I’m rather intrigued by Kalanick’s references to how much sex he’s getting just because he’s Uber’s CEO. Here’s another hard truth of the sort that Neil LaBute is so good at exposing: As much as some women protest the kind of misogynist culture that Uber apparently exemplifies, there are plenty of other women who eroticize male power and wish to bask in its aura, even when it comes packaged in buffoonish and objectionable forms. This is a contradiction worth examining. Women, too, play a contributing role in upholding the conditions that also abject us, something we’re in the habit of forgetting.

Memo to the “tail” of which Kalanick speaks: Ladies! You can do better.

For my part, I’d far rather hear what guys like Michael say when behind closed doors than carefully burnished platitudes from some PR firm. When people go off-message, or mistakenly think they’re off the record, or un-mic’ed (don’t forget Mitt Romney uttered the fatal “47%” line when he thought he was among friends), what you usually hear is what they actually think, as opposed to what they think they’re supposed to say. The only thing that was outrageous about this latest episode was getting socked in the face with a few unvarnished truths.

Laura Kipnis’s new book, Men: Notes from an Ongoing Investigation, is out this week.

 

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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