Joel

James Wolcott reviews Martin Amis's "Lionel Asbo: State of England."

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Homecoming

A text message instructed me to report to a midtown Manhattan sports bar, where I would find the members of the expedition recharging before the next day’s exertions. I was meeting two of them for the first time, yet, even over the din, conversation was natural and easy. Dan, lean and earnest, spoke of his last assignment in the Army and added, with that distant, intense gaze I’ve now seen many times, that his old unit had recently deployed again.

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The wittiest scene in Joel and Ethan Coen’s 2001 film The Man Who Wasn’t There is one in which a fast-talking defense attorney, Freddy Riedenschneider (marvelously played by Tony Shalhoub), invokes Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle as grounds for a not-guilty verdict in a murder case: We can’t know what really happened.… Because the more you look, the less you know. But the beauty of it is, we don't gotta know! We just gotta show that, goddamnit, they don't know. Reasonable doubt. Science. The atom. You explain it to me.

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