AP Photo/The Christian Science Monitor, Ann Hermes
If, as an American, you visit a globalized megacity like Seoul, you’ll find plenty that feels familiar. Take chain bookstores: There’s bad lighting, as many smartphone accessories for sale as books, and sneaky customer habits. “I check out the covers,” says Claire, a young South Korean who’s showing me around. “If I like one, I go back to my apartment and buy it online.”
One spring morning two years ago, a woman left her house—a small white one, its porch overrun by toys and exercise equipment—and dropped off her kids at the Sunman Elementary School. Sunman is a tiny town that spreads across the flat farmland of Southern Indiana. State Road 101 is the main drag, and the woman drove down it, past the IGA with its twin gas pumps, past the Family Dollar, past a bar named Louie’s, until she reached home.
Poisoning The Press: Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson, and The Rise Of Washington's Scandal Culture, By Mark Feldstein, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 461 pages, $30.00
How To Become A Scandal: Adventures in Bad Behavior, By Laura Kipnis, Metropolitan Books, 208 pages, $24.00
In 1967, the jury for the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting unanimously recommended that the award go to the muckraking columnists Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson for their expose of the financial chicanery of Thomas Dodd, a powerful senior Democratic senator. The prize instead went to two Wall Street Journal reporters for a story about gambling and organized crime that the members of the jury had not even read.
In October 2007 -- the same month that Random House emerged from a four-day auction with a $9 million deal for Tony Blair's memoirs -- Robert Harris published his sixth novel, The Ghost. It centers on a cynical, self-aware ghostwriter who must finish the memoirs of a former British prime minister. The PM, thanks to war crimes, waterboarding, and other timely plot points, is laying low in America, but Harris spends more time skewering publishers than politicians. He did his homework, interviewing real ghostwriters and pulling epigraphs from a handbook by "Britain's foremost ghostwriter," and his novel makes for some biting (if predictable) satire.