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Each week, the Emdashes staff dons a big foam hand to identify those aspects of last week’s issue that most closely resemble a walk-off home run. Happy Fourth!

The spot illustration, by Rachel Domm, for John Lahr’s review of Sarah Ruhl’s production of Eurydice was remarkable. It reminded me a bit of the work of Tara McPherson, only without that artist’s painful Goth overtones. —MCS

To me, “George Packer” means stern, lucid commentary on war and politics. This weekend, though, he pricked me with humor, and three times on a shuddering ferry to Vancouver Island I laughed out loud at this depiction of what a powerful New York contingent (Clinton, Giuliani, and Bloomberg) might mean for the next Presidential election.
“[It] would so thoroughly explode the Sun Belt’s lock on the White House that an entirely new kind of politics might be possible, in which evolution is not an issue, no one has to pretend to like pork rinds, and the past tense of “drag” is “dragged.”
Also: a few chuckles from Jack Handey’s delightfully cruel nature documentary: “The monkey is shot by a poacher and falls from giraffe.” Golden. —JB

There’s so much pressure to like monkey-themed Shouts, but I did anyway. I haven’t enjoyed nature documentaries the way I used to ever since I read a powerful essay somewhere about how these blithe, leafy programs lull us into a dangerously cheerful stupor, in which we forget that the earth is already a goner, because look, an antelope, a toucan, and an ibiza! I think it was a Harper’s Reading; I keep trying to cite it, so I’ll have to look at their archive. On the other hand, if it weren’t for nature documentaries, etc., would we care about that godforsaken polar bear in An Inconvenient Truth in the first place?

Anyway, some of my favorite stories: I liked seeing Ken Auletta throw caution to the wind and just write the heck out of a piece on Rupert Murdoch. To accompany it, there’s an absorbing and fun interview with Auletta by Blake Eskin for the new “New Yorker Out Loud” podcast; it’s nice to hear the Nextbook veteran interviewing again. At least in my experience, it’s faster and easier to subscribe to this and the other (fiction, New Yorker Conference, etc.) podcasts directly through iTunes, but my computer’s been wonky lately, so it might just be me.

Also notably top-notch: Margaret Talbot on lie-detecting machines; Maxim Biller’s sad, beautiful, and beautifully short story “The Mahogany Elephant” (would that I could have read it a decade ago and avoided a heap of foolishness, but that’s how it crumbles, cookie-wise); Joan Acocella proving once again how good her book reviewing can be; Joyce Carol Oates writing intelligently and well about Stephen L. Carter; John Updike on a revisionist history of the Depression—the book section is uniformly good this week. The cover is also a subtle, satisfying event. Where does one buy those bulbs? I’ll mail one to the first person to tell me. —EG


No notice of the hedge fund thing? Am I really the only one who thought it was a great read . . ?

What did you like particularly about it, ZP?

I often have trouble delving into the fiction, but loved “The Mahogany Elephant.” It was accessible, touching, sad, yet beautifully done. Not having been a fan of Evelyn Waugh or his family (for no reason other than never reading their work), I’m now going to spend a weekend trip to Washington, D.C., looking through the bookstores.

Why I loved the Hedge Fund (it’s at the bottom of the post). And I really liked Packer’s Bloomberg “Talk” too. Might post soon about my belated enjoyment of the innovation issue.

I was pleased with myself just for getting through the hedge-fund piece, but I think I learned a few things. The main guy, the academic, seemed appealingly skeptical about the world of quick ‘n’ dirty cash, and I liked his quote—something like “I have a house here, I have a house in Spain, my bills are paid, what else do I need?” Good point, you know? He’s rich enough, he’s relaxed, he gets the summers off—this is the kind of capitalist I can respect.

Yeah, that quote really made him the hero of the thing.

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