Daniel Mendelsohn on the subject, excellent as usual. (As a counterpoint, here’s an unusually revealing interview with Oliver Stone on the film’s, um, less-than-stellar reception.)
AMISH FAMILY VALUES: The long-awaited Legal Affairs story on incest in Amish country is here.
GETTING WARMER: Michael Crichton’s latest sounds fairly dumb, in its premise if not its argument — but since he’s gone to all the trouble of packing his book with charts, graphs, and a twenty-page appendix, you’d think that Elizabeth Kolbert and the New Yorker might go to the trouble of actually, you know, engaging with his arguments.
FISH FOOD: This Malcolm Gladwell review of Jared Diamond’s latest book is fascinating. I always thought (not least from reading The Greenlanders, which is a lot better than Jane Smiley’s political commentary, I promise) that the Little Ice Age did the Greenland Vikings in. But apparently, it was the Viking taboo against eating fish that drove them to starvation.
Unfortunately, Gladwell never explains the origin of this taboo (an odd one in a seafaring people, wouldn’t you say?). Maybe Diamond does, somewhere in the book — but Gladwell only quotes his digs at Christianity, which have an all-too-typical faculty-lounge flavor:
To us in our secular modern society, the predicament in which the Greenlanders found themselves is difficult to fathom. To them, however, concerned with their social survival as much as their biological survival, it was out of the question to invest less in churches, to imitate or intermarry with the Inuit, and thereby to face an eternity in Hell just in order to survive another winter on Earth.
Oh, those silly Christians and their world-to-come concerns . . .
In any case, as a mackerel-snapper myself, I can assure Messrs. Diamond and Gladwell that there’s no Christian prohibition on seafood-eating. (Would that there were.) So, why no fish for the Norse?
This is going to keep me up all night . . .