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John Donatich, most recently the publisher and vice president of Basic Books in New York, started in January as the new director of Yale University Press. Donatich has worked on both the marketing and editorial side of the publishing business and has written for Harper's, the Atlantic Monthly, and other publications. He says the “integrity” of the Press attracted him to the job. “There really is a different god at worship here,” he says.


Anne Fadiman discussed her work as a writer and as the editor of the American Scholar in a January 27 master’s tea at Calhoun College. “You don’t have to be much of an editor to think that something by John Updike is worth publishing,” said Fadiman of her Scholar job. “The really exciting day is when something comes in by someone you’ve never heard of, and you recognize that it’s good.” She also explained that “‘Scholar’ is a misnomer, because there’s almost nothing scholarly in it. And ‘American’ isn’t quite accurate because we do a lot of international stuff. But ‘The’ is about right.”


On January 29, the English department brought novelist Mary Gordon to Linsly-Chittenden Hall to read two short stories from an upcoming collection: “Intertextuality,” about a Sicilian grandmother’s relationship to her Americanized family, and “My Podiatrist Tells Me A Story About A Dog,” which is not so much about a family pet as the way its owner tells the story. Gordon lives in New York and teaches English at Barnard College.


Benoit Mandelbrot, the Yale mathematics professor who pioneered the study of fractal geometry, will be awarded the Japan Prize by the Science and Technology Foundation of Japan next month. Mandelbrot will share the $400,000 prize for works in the “science and technology of complexity” with James York of the University of Maryland. “Fifty years ago, when I began to study complexity for its own sake, I was very lonely,” said Mandelbrot. “Today, it is the theme of this great prize, and I am utterly delighted to be chosen as a recipient.”


As part of this year’s Asian American Film Festival, the Asian American Cultural Center showed two short films written and directed by Greg Pak '90. After the screening, the NYU film school grad talked about being an independent filmmaker and shared his optimistic view of the future of Asian American cinema. “With all these new movies coming out, the hope is that we’ll start to define an audience,” Pak said. His feature film Robert Stories is currently making the festival circuit.

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Though he starred on television’s The Odd Couple and has acted in numerous Hollywood films, Tony Randall skipped the personal anecdotes at a January 23 Saybrook College master’s tea. Instead, Randall, who founded the National Actors Theater in 1991, discussed the art of acting and the degeneration of the American stage. “Broadway has become a theater for tourists only,” he said. Randall downplayed the difference between acting for stage and screen. “Wherever you’re acting, your job is the same,” he said. “Your job is to come alive in the part.”



Yalies try to be cool about celebrity visitors, but few found it possible to affect ennui at the news that actress Meryl Streep '75MFA was coming to Berkeley College for a master’s tea on January 31. While the visit was kept quiet and the tea limited mostly to Berkeley students, master John Rogers’s living room was packed with admirers of the woman he called “our greatest living actor.”


Still, the talk at the tea was less about movies than about Streep’s activism regarding organic food. Sitting in front of a bouquet of locally grown roses and snacking on organic hors d'oeuvres, she expressed her support for the Berkeley Sustainable Food Project, a pilot program to use organic and locally grown food in the college’s dining hall. (See “Light and Verity,” November.)

Describing herself as a “flailing activist,” she recounted her efforts to increase the demand for organic produce in supermarkets. “You vote with your dollars,” she said. “Every time you use your credit card, you decide what’s going to be available. The voice of the consumer is so much more eloquent than any legislation.”  the end


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