Book Reviews & Essays

Tube-Tied

In our era of ultrapersonalized viewing, why do we still allow TVs to infiltrate our public spaces?

Originally published February 1, 2015 in Slate

Not long ago I arrived at an Amtrak station near my home in Southern California and was struck by its pleasant atmosphere: high ceilings, a spare design, a clean and airy waiting room with light streaming in the windows. But as I settled in to wait for my train, I saw it: an enormous television looming on the back wall. […]

Utopian Visions on a Wraparound Screen

Review of 'Shanghai Future,' by Anna Greenspan

Originally published February 22, 2015 in Los Angeles Review of Books

AT THE 2010 Shanghai World Expo, audience members strapped themselves into moving seats to watch a 360-degree screen. The scene on display was a quixotic vision of the city in 2030. “Congestion, pollution, accidents have all been eliminated,” writes Anna Greenspan in the preface to her new book Shanghai Future. “Instead, future citizens float through a vast sci-fi cityscape of […]

Speed Kills

Review of Pressed for Time: The Acceleration of Life in Digital Capitalism, by Judy Wajcman

Originally published January 15, 2015 in The Nation

Not long ago, while crashing with my parents for a few days, I had the opportunity to sift through a wicker box stuffed with memorabilia from my youth: cards, letters, notes scribbled furtively in class. I’m not that old—the historical period in question was the 1990s—but the exercise felt like stepping back into an ancient era. There were letters from […]

The Eco-Optimists

Originally published Winter 2015 in Dissent

An optimistic environmentalist may sound like an oxymoron (or perhaps just a moron). In recent months alone, headlines have spotlighted the irreversible melting of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet and the latest report from the UN IPCC, which noted that the effects of global warming are already worse than previously predicted. Daily extinctions of species do not even make the […]

Fearful Parenting Is Contagious

'On Immunity,' by Eula Biss

Originally published November 6, 2014 in Boston Review

After my daughter was born, whenever I heard about parents who refused vaccines, I’d feel a flare of hostility. Not because I couldn’t relate to them—as an easily spooked new mom, I could relate all too well. No mother is thrilled to see a needle jabbed into her child. It hardly helps to know that the needle contains a substance […]