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An O. Henry Story Loaded With Morphine October 14, 2009

“The drug clerk looks sharply at the white face half concealed by the high-turned overcoat collar. “’I would rather not supply you,’ he said doubtfully. ‘I sold you a dozen morphine tablets less than an hour ago.’ “The customer smiles wanly. ‘The fault is in your crooked streets. I didn’t intend to call upon you twice, but I guess I got tangled up. Excuse me.” Thus begins Fog in Santone by American short story master…

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The Scarce First Edition in Yiddish of “Hashish” (1911) August 26, 2009

In a recent column, This Is Your Brain On Books, I briefly discussed Fritz Lemmermayer’s Haschische (1898) and the Yiddish translation published in 1911 with its stunning and evocative cover illustration. It is the only drug-themed book to ever appear in Yiddish. Book people of all faiths and faithful tongues have since been hounding me to reproduce that illustration. The original is in color; all I could access was an image in black and white.…

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This Is Your Brain On Books August 25, 2009

There has been a spate of recent books covering new research upon how our brains work and the human decision-making process. Madeleine Bunting, at the Guardian, nicely sums up the science and its implications. It turns out that just about all of our assumptions about free-will, autonomy, and rationality in our choices and decisions are chimerical. I was reminded of this just the other day when I received the following note from a close friend…

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