Posts From Author: newsweek

A Year in Tehran

The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay: An American Family in Iran by Hooman Majd NY: Anchor Books, 2014; 272pp “I advise you not to hang around the Americans very much.” This friendly advice, given to the author and journalist Hooman Majd by a doorman at a hotel in Tehran, while he is travelling with a CNN crew, in some ways typifies his experience at the hands of Iranian officialdom. In The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay: An American Family in Iran, Majd chronicles the year he recently spent with his (American) wife and baby son living in his motherland. It was the year of what Majd calls Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s “big sulk;” the Occupy movement; the main events of the Arab Spring. At a fraught political juncture, there is perhaps inevitably a strong Kafkaesque flavor to much of Majd and his friends’ interactions with the police and the government. But while this excellent, concise work of social commentary doesn’t shy away from politics, its fascination and pleasure lie just as much in its gentle revelation of everyday life in Iran. Nostalgia, an insoluble emotion at the best of times, ghosts both what has been and what […]
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The Ink Runs Dry

Borgesian understatement, Nixonian analysis, Putinian philosophy, and a rediscovered Kodak disc camera. The ink, the wine, and the laughs were all flowing at Tuesday’s Seriously Entertaining show as another smashing line-up of writing talent mused aloud on the creative process and the terror that one day the ink might just dry up altogether. Amanda Vaill was first in the spotlight with a tale from her new book, Hotel Florida: Truth, Love, and Death in the Spanish Civil War (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014). When war broke out, the writers who answered the call to arms were all generally afraid that “their ink was running dry”, not least Ernest Hemingway, one of the stars of Hotel Florida, whose writing career in the mid-1930s was far from soaring. “But those who were the new face, the new day,” said Vaill, “were the photographers, the film-makers.” Most famous amongst them were Robert Capa and Gerda Taro, whose philosophy was summed up by Capa’s maxim, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” Capa and Taro are perhaps best known for the image of the “Falling Soldier”, which Vaill contends was a staged shoot gone fatally wrong. Whatever the circumstances, it made their name, […]
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