Today in the Times

As is the Sunday ritual, I went through the New York Times today and noted the following:

  • Apparently, the B52s stay at the Bowery Hotel, the same hotel where I stayed during BEA last year. My room won points for being relatively quiet, having an iPod dock, and having MSG, which, by pure coincidence, happened to be showing an excellent game from the 2003 ALCS during the last night of my stay. Its being a two-minute walk from the Whole Foods on Houston didn’t hurt either.

  • Matt Bai has two stories in the paper. One is in the Magazine on Obama’s surprising success in racially homogenous states and his failure in diverse ones. The other contrasts the advertising-influenced of David Axelrod with the poll-driven nature of Mark Penn. (Note: I’ve met both Penn and Bai as part of my work, but, alas, not Axelrod.)

  • n+1 editor and Harvard alum Keith Gessen has the back page essay in the Book Review this week, which covers a few books about the struggle for college admissions. Of particular interest is The Runner: A True Account of the Amazing Lies and Fantastical Adventures of the Ivy League Impostor James Hogue by David Samuels. I remember being fascinated by this story when it broke a few years back, probably because of its Gatsbyesque nature. I mean, how can you not be impressed by a guy who, at nearly 30, fakes his way into Princeton. And what could possibly be a better story for criticizing the whole college admissions game in the first place? Which reminds me of an op-ed piece that ran in the Times last weekend. Mark Leyner wrote a wonderful criticism of all the unjustified column space that’s lately been given to stories about literary hoaxes. The piece takes the form of a news story about the discovery that Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” is actually a work of nonfiction. I’ve long argued that it doesn’t make much of a difference to me whether a work is classified as fiction or nonfiction. After all, I’m judging the work that a writer has produced, not her life. (But you say, “Her work was her life.”)

  • Finally, the paper ran a story about Samantha Power in which she’s quoted as having foreshadowed her own political demise as an advisor to the Obama campaign. The article tends toward gossip at times, but I found Power’s prescience to be disarming. But then again, I’m a fan looking for the positive.

After Ms. Power joined the Obama campaign, as an unpaid part-time adviser on foreign policy, people who knew her wondered — and worried — whether a person who is so naked about her passions could survive in the political world, where tact and coolness usually trump spontaneity.

Ms. Power herself worried. “That’s the one thing that terrifies me: that I’ll say something that will somehow hurt the candidate,” she told The Chronicle of Higher Education last year.