Magazine article The New Yorker

Briefly Noted

Magazine article The New Yorker

Briefly Noted

Article excerpt

The Lowells of Massachusetts, by Nina Sankovitch (St. Martin's Press). In 1639, Percival Lowle emigrated from England to Massachusetts, giving rise to a dynasty of influential Americans, especially poets, including Robert Lowell. First distinguishing themselves in professions key to the nascent colonies--law, politics, the ministry--the family veered toward the arts. In the Romantic era, James Russell wrote of being racked with grief over the death of his wife, who was "half of earth and more than half of heaven." Amy, who, in 1926, posthumously won a Pulitzer Prize, challenged audiences at her readings by saying, "Clap or hiss, I don't care which, but do something!" Sankovitch relies too heavily on the imagined thoughts of her subjects, but her skillful blending of context and detail makes the vicissitudes of one family emblematic of a nation's.

The End of Advertising, by Andrew Essex (Spiegel & Grau). "Nobody actually likes advertising," writes the author of this fast-paced history by a self-proclaimed "real-life Roger Sterling," the ad exec on the TV series "Mad Men." Essex warns that the widespread adoption of ad-blocking software may doom a nearly trillion-dollar industry, and that ads must change or die. Branded infrastructure projects, such as CitiBike, appeal to consumers through civic enrichment, but, according to Essex, similar projects have even greater potential: a sponsored renovation of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, for example, could "reinvent advertising" and "make America great again."

The Dark Dark, by Samantha Hunt (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). …

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