Contents | July/August 2001

The Atlantic Monthly | July/August 2001
In This Issue

hundred and twenty-five years after Mark Twain wrote "A Murder, a Mystery, and a Marriage" for the editors of The Atlantic Monthly, the story makes its appearance with an introduction and an afterword by Roy Blount Jr. Blount is a contributing editor of The Atlantic. His biography of Robert E. Lee will be published next year.

Following its publication, in 1940, Graham Greene's novel The Power and the Glory came under the scrutiny of Vatican censors. Peter Godman ("Graham Greene's Vatican Dossier") has excavated their previously undisclosed discussions from the archives of the Holy See, providing a rare glimpse into the Vatican's secret deliberations on matters of art, artists, and belief. Godman is a professor of medieval and Renaissance Latin at the University of Tübingen, in Germany. He is at work on the first full-scale biography of Giulio Antonio Santori, the Roman Grand Inquisitor of the late sixteenth century. His article in this issue is drawn from Die geheime Inquisition, published this year by Paul List Verlag (Munich).

McLean Hospital, in a suburb of Boston, has long been the nation's most literary mental institution. Alex Beam ("The Mad Poets Society") traces McLean's influence on the lives and art of three of its most famous residents: the poets Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, and Anne Sexton. Beam is a columnist for The Boston Globe and the author of two novels. His book about McLean, Gracefully Insane, will be published in January by PublicAffairs.

Never mind what the critics are saying, most modern "literary" fiction is pretentiously clumsy, writes B. R. Myers ("A Reader's Manifesto"), who takes aim at the prose styles of Cormac McCarthy, Don DeLillo, Paul Auster, and other acclaimed novelists. Myers lives and writes in New Mexico.

George Singleton ("Show-and-Tell") teaches fiction writing at the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities. His fiction has appeared in Harper's, Playboy, and The Southern Review. Singleton's first collection, These People Are Us, was published in April.

In Notes & Dispatches this month: Charles Trueheart reports from Paris, on the bemusing aspects of raising expatriated children; Eyal Press, from Bloomington, Indiana, on the quiet return of a professor run out of town by basketball fanatics; Reuel Marc Gerecht, from Peshawar, on why Usama bin Ladin has little to fear from U.S. intelligence agencies; Joshua Kurlantzick, from Singapore, on that country's answer to a declining birth rate—the "All-Out Make-Out" campaign; and Bill Donahue, from Tybee Island, Georgia, on a quixotic plan to recover a long-lost bomb.

Miraculous yet often unseen, the modern-day infrastructure of most cities is ignored by travel guides and travelers alike. Emily Hiestand ("Real Places") leads readers on a tour of man-made wonders. Hiestand's Atlantic essay "Hymn," reprinted in her collection Angela the Upside-Down Girl, won a 1999 National Magazine Award.

Stephen Budiansky ("Liquid Refreshment") explains how to prevent a garden pond from becoming an affront to the senses. Budiansky is a correspondent for The Atlantic. The paperback edition of his book The Truth About Dogs (2000) will be published in October.

Almost twenty years ago William Zinsser ("Field of Tin") began a search for a favorite toy from childhood. This month he recounts a long-awaited playdate with another enthusiast of the Wolverine mechanical Pennant Winner baseball game. The twenty-fifth-anniversary edition of Zinsser's classic book On Writing Well will be published this summer. His newest book is Easy to Remember: The Great American Songwriters and Their Songs (2001).

Are small, independent bookstores necessarily better than Borders or Barnes & Noble? Brooke Allen ("Two—Make That Three—Cheers for the Chain Bookstores") refutes the claim that the superstores are a blight. Allen is a frequent contributor to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Hudson Review.

Stephen Amidon ("A Harrowing Mirror of Loneliness") reviews the newly released complete collection of short stories by Richard Yates. Amidon, a former film critic for London's Financial Times, is the author of four novels, including The New City (2000).

Where did the tabloids originate—and what makes them so compelling? Caitlin Flanagan ("The Tabloid Habit") investigates. Flanagan's review of wedding-etiquette and -survival guides appeared in the February Atlantic.

Margaret Drabble ("Wharton's Sharp Eye") surveys the ghostly tales and gimlet-eyed observations that fill the recently released two-volume collection of Edith Wharton's short stories. Drabble is the author of fourteen novels and two biographies. Her most recent novel is The Peppered Moth (2001).

Steeped in rock but grounded in classical, Philip Glass's music has a unique crossover appeal. David Schiff ("In Glass's House") explores why, despite the ambivalence of the critics, Glass remains "America's best-known composer of art music." Schiff has written more than a dozen articles on music for The Atlantic.

Copyright © 2001 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; July/August 2001; In This Issue; Volume 288, No. 1; 10.