Magazine article The New Yorker

Briefly Noted

Magazine article The New Yorker

Briefly Noted

Article excerpt

Prep, by Curtis Sittenfeld (Random House; $21.95). Any feelings of nostalgia for adolescence should be dispelled by the exacting intimacies of this first novel. Lee Fiora, a scholarship student at the prestigious Ault School (not Ault Academy, as her parents embarrassingly refer to it), negotiates her days there in a blaze of self-consciousness that is, by turns, hilarious and excruciating: "I believed then that if you had a good encounter with a person, it was best not to see them again for as long as possible." And yet she becomes an expert on the rituals that govern the rarefied microenvironment in which she finds herself: the students' fondness for catchphrases like "therein lies the paradox" and "LMC" (lower middle class); the taboo against enthusiasm for anything other than sports; the fact that the school always sings "God be with you till we meet again" at chapel before breaks. In the end, Lee's incisive vision of herself and others is her downfall but also--as this richly textured narrative suggests--her greatest gift.

Pol Pot, by Philip Short (Henry Holt; $30). Pol Pot once remarked that the Cambodian authorities in the nineteen-fifties "knew who I was; but they did not know what I was." Short, in his attempt to explain how a young man known for his bland amiability came to preside over the deaths of a million and a half people, follows the dictator from a childhood spent partly among palace concubines through his student days in Paris (where he read Stalin because Marx was over his head) to his imposition of a "slave state. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.