A roulette wheel, fraudulent tax returns, a Marilyn Monroe impersonator
On the whole, human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time.
The War Within Islam
Reza Aslan On How The U.S. Fails To Understand The Muslim World
We’ve made it easier for jihadist propagandists to convince the Muslim world that this is a war against Islamic values. . . . You want to know why we’re losing the war on terror? Because they have the better marketing campaign.
The Road To Linzhi
We’re marooned in a bowl of mountains on the road to Linzhi, Tibet. Unlike the mountains of home, which are settled, full-grown, and staid, the Himalayas are brazen, thrusting themselves into the sky. These mountains are an epic in the making. These mountains humble us: forty-four American and European scientists and their spouses, led by a Tibetan guide, Sangkar, who has lived here all his life.
Instead Of Dying
The leopard of his imagination pulled down the feathers and blooded flesh of stories fueled by his previous failures and delivered as the result of his recovery. Whereas earlier he’d simply chronicled the deterioration of mostly working-class lives, his new stories actually allowed for recovery and revelation.
One Cigarette A Day
We are bouncing over a rough ocean, on a boat packed with twenty or so fishermen, and I am breathing the smoke from my grandfather’s cigarettes. In the darkness of early morning the captain collects money for a gambling pool. “First and heaviest, thirty-seventy split,” he yells, and when he gets to us, my grandfather hands over a fistful of bills. As the captain moves on, my grandfather winks at me and says, “You will win.”
Resistance Is Futile
Now she is down to three children on Christmas Eve, and instead of turkey and mashed potatoes, we order pizza. This tradition arose when Grandma grew overwhelmed by the logistics of cooking but refused my mother’s offer to take over. Soon Grandma found even the dishes burdensome, so we switched to paper plates. More recently she has developed an aversion to dirty glasses, so we’ve started using plastic cups.
The Full Catastrophe
Unless you show up to write, you don’t get to experience the heartache and the joy of writing; you don’t get to drop into a place without words and then, miraculously, find just the right words for what you discover there.
Burying Angel O’Malley
I had thought that watching them carry Angel out the door for the last time would be the hardest part to bear, but then they picked up the lid and put it over her again, and her father reached into his pocket and pulled out a nail and began to hammer it in. Usually hammering is a good sound.