The Power of Stories — Whether in print or on the screen, whether real or imagined, stories that entrance also wield influence.

Ours is a culture where videos like “Girls Gone Wild” inspire campus copycats and even serious dramas like “CSI” inspire students to sign up for forensic-science courses in droves. It would not be so bad if “Commander” prompted some young viewers to study foreign affairs or even just buy a map. — From today’s The New York Times Arts section is a tv review of the new series Commander In Chief by Alessandra Stanley

The Power of Reputation — Tracy Kidder has written a memoir of his time in the military during the Vietnam War. I am a huge Kidder fan, having read and loved The Soul of a New Machine, House, Among Schoolchildren” and Mountains Beyond Mountains. I also read alot of memoirs, so of course I plan to read My Detachment — despite the largely negative review by Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times Book Review. Here’s a snippet fro Kakutani:

The format of this volume is similar in some respects to Mr. Kidder’s earlier nonfiction books…This time, however, the product is a lot more disappointing.
In those previous volumes, Mr. Kidder assumed the role of reporter and demonstrated a wonderful ability to capture the vicissitudes of his subjects’ day-to-day lives, doing so with large heapings of carefully observed details and a quiet, nonjudgmental respect for the stresses and strains of his subjects’ vocations. In this case, his memory for events more than three and a half decades ago proves a lot blurrier than his reportorial eye, and his sympathy for others has been replaced by a sour, mocking distaste for his own younger self. The result is a grudging and brittle little book that provides an unsatisfying portrait of the author as a narcissistic, self-dramatizing and oddly passive young man.

For me, the power of Kidder’s reputation outweighs th review. Read the whle thing here.