Reading lately

You've Got Mail vs. Sleepless in Seattle: Fight!  NY Mag went Ephron v. Ephron for Valentine's Day. I'm YGM forever, on aesthetics alone; SIS looks like it was shot through a filter of grandma's old nylons. Here's Margaret Lyons, agreeing with my general assessment if not my specific reasoning:

When I get my PhD in Ephronology, my thesis will be called “Slouchy Pants, Thick Belts, and the Knee-Length Skirt: Gendered Millennial Fashion and Kathleen Kelly’s Sense of Belonging.” I will TA a course in supporting casts called The Violin, The Violin: Social Affiliations and the Facets of Personhood, which will explore how the secondary characters in YGM and SIS each represent particular aspects of our main characters. You are also welcome to participate in the lecture series Call Me: Tracing the Differences Between Face-to-Face and Mediated Communication in the Nora Ephron Canon. Our rivals at the Nancy Meyers Institute of Cashmere Wraps are very jealous of all of this, of course. (New York Magazine)

A Meteor in the Russian Sky  Elif Batuman explains the role of “dash cams” in recording the Russian meteor blast, and examines the interstitial between the majestic and the mundane:

In “War and Peace” the comet stands for one of the novel’s central themes: the way world-historical forces interact with individual destinies. The ancient, cosmic power of the epic exercises its gravitational pull on the prose of the world. Every time a meteor comes close to the earth, we all think about the end of the world—but our internal soundtrack doesn’t turn off. We’re also thinking about pizza, or passing a slow tractor, or making a turn, and for a magical instant our lives seem to be in conversation with the stars. (The New Yorker)

Royal Bodies  Hilary Mantel has kicked up a real kerfuffle with her new piece on the Duchess of Cambridge, although both the article and the responding outcry seem to say more about us—the heaving masses—than it does about the interchangeable objects of our merciless gaze: 

When her pregnancy became public she had been visiting her old school, and had picked up a hockey stick and run a few paces for the camera. BBC News devoted a discussion to whether a pregnant woman could safely put on a turn of speed while wearing high heels. It is sad to think that intelligent people could devote themselves to this topic with earnest furrowings of the brow, but that’s what discourse about royals comes to: a compulsion to comment, a discourse empty of content, mouthed rather than spoken. And in the same way one is compelled to look at them: to ask what they are made of, and is their substance the same as ours. (London Review of Books)