What We're Reading This Week: James Brown's Style, Remembering Robin Williams

Posted by Fodor's Editors on August 14, 2014 at 10:30:00 AM EDT | Post a Comment

To see music history come alive, look at "The Possessed: James Brown in 18 Minutes" by David Remnick in The New Yorker. Besides describing Pentecostal elements in Brown's style, Remnick includes a video of Brown's "explosive" and "erotic" milestone performance at the 1964 T.A.M.I. show. The youthful Rolling Stones, who closed the show, couldn't compete; that clip is here, too. The new James Brown biopic, Get On Up, has flaws, but Chadwick Boseman does, among other things, some great dancing. —Linda Cabasin, Editorial Director

Having grown up with such films as Hook, Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, and—crucially—The Birdcage, the passing of Robin Williams earlier this week felt like a personal loss. I was relieved, though not surprised, to find that my generational cohorts feel the same: Over at Salon, Daniel D’Addario remembers Williams as “that rare star who seemed excited to work on projects we cared about”; Megan Gibson, at TIME, sums up the actor’s importance to Millennials neatly: “He was the teacher we always wanted, the baby-sitter we would have loved, the best friend who knew exactly how to make us laugh.” —Michael Alan Connelly, Editor, Fodors.com

A friend is starting off on a 'round-the-world trip by freighter and train and asked me for book suggestions. That sent me to re-read Ian Frazier’s Travels in Siberia, his account of several trips throughout Russia in the '90s. His writing is wonderfully supple, and he is the best sort of tour guide: genuine, curious about everything, historically astute, and funny, often darkly funny. His final trip, to the eastern edge of Siberia, was in a step-van—the kind of truck that delivers bread in the U.S.—and that sums up his wonderfully off-kilter point of view. (And if you’re seduced by his writing, like me, also read On the Rez, about the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.) —Linda Schmidt, Managing Editor

Aquaculture? Agroforestry? Foodscaping? In her piece called 13 Trends That Will Change the Way You Think About Food, health expert (and former Fodorite) Maria Hart explains the new terms you need to know before you go to the grocery store. —Mark Sullivan, Editor, Cities and Cultural Destinations

Greg Jackson’s short story "Wagner in the Desert" in the July 21 edition of The New Yorker reminded me of Bret Easton Ellis’s Less Than Zero, in it its spooling, list-heavy sentences, and characters searching for meaning through a layer of chemically enforced nullity in Palm Springs. Unlike Ellis’s teens, the 2014 version depicted a particular breed of mildly disaffected (and all-too-recognizable) thirtysomethings who were “that strange species of human being who has invented an app”. I loved that he managed to merge an often very funny perspective of being irredeemably stoned with painfully sharp observations of the ways in which we are complicit in our compromises, so that as we get older “finding everlasting love…becomes finding a sensible social teammate.” Ouch. —Róisín Cameron, Associate Editor, Countryside and Adventure

Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

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