Courtesy of the Trust for Governors Island
February 1st, 2013 | 9:00am

In the Upper Bay of New York’s harbor, there is a new urban island under construction. Technically, this project is a work of rejuvenation or, as professionals say, adaptive re-use. A military installation since colonial times, Governors Island hosted a U.S. Army base until the mid-1960s. Then the Coast Guard took over, operating there until 1997, when the federal government deeded the island to the City and State of New York. Good timing. The subsequent fifteen years saw New York City’s most radical re-invention since the invention of the elevator.

Photo by Sarah Menkedick
January 31st, 2013 | 9:00am

We lived in a half-built villa by the sea. It was terrifically gaudy, and the most breathtaking place any of us had ever lived. The two long walls of the rectangular main room rose only to knee height and from there became screen-less windows, which could be closed by winding down shutters. We left them open day and night. To the west we could see the vast cobalt blue of the Indian Ocean all the way to the heat-white horizon, and to the east, Reunion Island rising in boxy pastel-colored buildings and palms to its foggy volcanoes and peaks.

Photo by Sarah Menkedick

Photo from Flickr Creative Commons user kebnekaise
January 30th, 2013 | 9:00am

The chicken vendor’s stacked cages combine manure and death. Flatbread browning in the baker’s oven wafts smoke and flour. Metallic hints of thrown-out bean cans, misty exhaust of diesel trucks, heady tangs of eucalyptus trees. Even from inside our house the smell of fire is usual, from water pipes for smoking dried fruit and tobacco, whiffs of the neighbor’s incense, a sniff of matches and candles each time the electricity blacks out. Once we watched neighborhood kids chase after a rolling tire set afire, orbiting whirls of black and flame until the blaze consumed the tire, which wobbled in circles, then lay motionless on the ground. Children watched while acrid plumes of soot spread, lingering bitterness infusing the air.

reviewed by Lindsay Stern
January 29th, 2013 | 9:13am

Daniel Fights a Hurricane, Shane Jones’ third novel, takes place in two worlds. One is an unnamed American town made concrete by its familiar landmarks—Target, McDonald’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods. The other is the phantasmal world of the protagonist, Daniel Suppleton—a thirty-two-year- old employee at a Stuart Services LLC, a pipeline construction site—who develops a crippling paranoia: that a Hurricane will descend and “erase everything.” The book chronicles Daniel’s retreat from the familiar world into his imagined one, and the struggle of his ex-wife Karen to coax him back to sanity.

Photo by Julia Lichtblau
January 28th, 2013 | 9:00am

Christmas Day, 2012. I’m riding a packed flota back up to chilly Bogotá from the tropical lowlands. The fringe over the windows is jiggling to the beat of the motor, syncopated by potholes. I sit behind the driver, facing a life-size, crown-of-thorns decal of Jesus’ head, deep-sea blue. Vallenatos jangle over the bus loudspeaker. A stop is wherever someone wants off. The driver pulls over. People jump out.

Photo by Julia Lichtblau