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The world Cal and Frida have always known is gone, and they’ve left the crumbling city of Los Angeles far behind them. They now live in a shack in the wilderness, working side-by-side to make their days tolerable in the face of hardship and isolation. Mourning a past they can’t reclaim, they seek solace in each other. But the tentative existence they’ve built for themselves is thrown into doubt when Frida finds out she’s pregnant.
Terrified of the unknown and unsure of their ability to raise a child alone, Cal and Frida set out for the nearest settlement, a guarded and paranoid community with dark secrets. These people can offer them security, but Cal and Frida soon realize this community poses dangers of its own. In this unfamiliar world, where everything and everyone can be perceived as a threat, the couple must quickly decide whom to trust.
A gripping and provocative debut novel by a stunning new talent, California imagines a frighteningly realistic near future, in which clashes between mankind’s dark nature and deep-seated resilience force us to question how far we will go to protect the ones we love.
It’s 1973, and David Leveraux has landed his dream job as a Flavorist-in-Training, working in the secretive industry where chemists create the flavors for everything from the cherry in your can of soda to the butter on your popcorn.
While testing a new artificial sweetener—“Sweetness #9”—he notices unusual side-effects in the laboratory rats and monkeys: anxiety, obesity, mutism, and a generalized dissatisfaction with life. David tries to blow the whistle, but he swallows it instead.
Years later, Sweetness #9 is America’s most popular sweetener—and David’s family is changing. His wife is gaining weight, his son has stopped using verbs, and his daughter suffers from a generalized dissatisfaction with life. Is Sweetness #9 to blame, along with David’s failure to stop it? Or are these just symptoms of the American condition?
David’s search for an answer unfolds in this expansive novel that is at once a comic satire, a family story, and a profound exploration of our deepest cultural anxieties. Wickedly funny and wildly imaginative, Sweetness #9 questions whether what we eat truly makes us who we are.
From one showman to another, Cromwell’s head passed through the eighteenth century, turning a profit each time. The only problem was wear and tear. At some point, perhaps as far back as the day at Tyburn, Cromwell had lost an ear and several teeth. His nose had been crushed, his hair was thinning, his flesh was desiccated, and his skin was yellow-brown. The incongruous appearance of this hard, dry object made it an effective memento mori. This was what death looked like. Cromwell, the great commander, was now nothing more than a lump of matter, subject to the whims of Mother Nature and dependent on the passions of the paying public.
A lengthier excerpt is found in the August issue of Harpers.
Rather fascinating and grotesque to discover that they exhumed the body after his death (from illness) to perform a public beheading, and then proceeded to display the head for nearly three hundred years. It’s an interesting story which makes me curious to read the full book when it’s released in August.
“When you’re learning about something and dissecting it, I don’t think you’re really through until you don’t understand anything about it. If you study something and you find all this stuff about it, you just went skin deep, so if you keep going and going, you should be left with a fucking mess of unanswered questions. If you take any subject and keep asking, “Why,” without stopping, you’ll get to a point where there really isn’t any clear answers.”—
“The popularity of capsule coffee systems like K-Cups and Nespresso is a marketing marvel. GMCR estimates that around 13% of all U.S. households have one of their devices. But the real money comes from not from the razors but the blades. Ounce for ounce, consumers are generally paying anywhere from $35 - 60 a pound for the ground coffee inside these capsules. Lock-in is lucrative.”—K-Cup Cops: License and Registration Please | Tonx
Among coffee aficionados, the AeroPress is a revelation. A small, $30 plastic device that resembles a plunger makes what many consider to be the best cup of coffee in the world. Proponents of the device claim that drinks made with the AeroPress are more delicious than those made with thousand-dollar machines. Perhaps best of all, the AeroPress seems to magically clean itself during the extraction process.
There’s really nothing bad to say about the device other than the fact that it’s a funny-looking plastic thingy. Then again, its inventor, Stanford professor Alan Adler, is a world renowned inventor of funny-looking plastic thingies; while Adler’s Palo Alto based company Aerobie is best known today for its coffee makers, the firm rose to prominence in the 1980s for its world-record-setting flying discs.
This is the story of how Adler and Aerobie dispelled the notion of industry-specific limitations and found immense success in two disparate industries: toys and coffee.
“Hannah and I discussed various ideas for the mural. We started with a painting, as naturally that would be a good way to cover the entire wall. Then we discussed a pop art portrait of Lincoln. That was followed by the idea of a large-scale reproduction of a newspaper’s front page, possibly requiring a large print to be adhered like wallpaper. I contacted a local printer, but unfortunately their largest print size was four inches too narrow to cover the width of the wall. Hannah suggested that instead of a newspaper page, we could reproduce a single page from a novel. I instantly saw it in my mind - beautiful typography covering the entire wall, bleeding just past the edges to make the wall feel even larger. A classic black and white palette would match anything in the room. I was sold.”—