Jeff looked forward to his birthday. Every year, he was given an entire day—sometimes two!—of feedback. The group would gather for brunch, turn on a video camera, and spend hours dissecting what exactly was wrong with him.
The fiction of Batuman’s fiction is that novels are dangerous because people like Selin read them as a guide to the future. But as Batuman (and her novel) know full well, fictions offer a way for both writers and readers to understand their pasts, not their futures.
Liberal internationalists believe that the United States can manage and predict foreign affairs. Restrainers do not. For those of us in the latter camp, the withering away of the American Century cannot be reversed; it can only be accommodated.
An acre of old chaparral is the fuel equivalent of 75 barrels of crude oil. A great Malibu firestorm, therefore, may generate the heat of three million barrels of burning oil at a temperature of 2,000 degrees.