The more money you can count, the more money you can keep. That’s a lesson that any would-be mogul should know, and a rebuke to those who are busily defunding education at the behest of—well, the people chronicled in Jane Mayer’s Dark Money, which we praised, and which has been riding the New York Times best-seller list since its publication in late January. Strangely, no get-rich-now books of the usual ilk sit on the list alongside Mayer’s exposé, though Tony Robbins’s Money: Master the Game is still selling fairly well a year and a half after it bowed in.
Still, all of us should be reading books such as John Allen Paulos’s Beyond Numeracy, which, speaking of incomprehensible numbers, has suddenly turned 25—tempus fugit indeed! This is to trust a recent Dutch study, which, Tyler Cowen’s economics blog Marginal Revolution tells us, finds that every point of mathematical knowledge on an ascending 11-point scale corresponds to a 5 percent boost in wealth. The Dutch know a thing or two about such matters: have a gander at Simon Schama’s The Embarrassment of Riches while you’re perusing Paulos, and watch the dollars grow.
Dollars. Nice suits. Serial killing. Those were the interests of Patrick Bateman, the obsessively well-groomed protagonist of Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho, a roundly disliked novel that, surprisingly again, turns 25 this year. It was only a matter of time, one supposes, that the novel should have been turned into a musical. Rex Reed may not have liked it, and Tony voters may have given nods instead to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton—based, Miranda is quick to acknowledge, on Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton—but American Psycho, it seems, is perhaps better liked than its source volume, at least among a certain set of young Wall Streeters in search of role models.
From American Psycho to American studies: We mark the passing of Daniel Aaron, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants who became a leading cultural historian and pioneering scholar in that discipline. Among other things, he was also the founding president of the Library of America, now in its fourth decade of publishing editions of American classics. Aaron was 103.
John Wayne, whose 109th birthday we mark at the end of this week, is a stalwart of films and American studies seminars alike, though mostly with an asterisk—certainly in the hands of Garry Wills, whose John Wayne’s America examined the good and bad of the actor’s now fading influence, and perhaps even in the hands of Scott Eyman, which, though on the whole more admiring, does not spare the negative in his recent book John Wayne: The Life and Legend.
California legislators were not moved by the good when, accentuating the negative, they recently passed on a proposal to declare May 26 John Wayne Day. J. B. Books would have understood the politics, but not Rooster Cogburn. And on that note, Angela Duckworth’s Grit, which we liked, has been making news. Tune in to NPR’s Weekend Edition for more.
Gregory McNamee is a contributing editor.