Tina Brown: What You Need To Read On The Web

Tina Brown, founder of the Web site The Daily Beast i i

Tina Brown, founder of the Web site The Daily Beast says that in Peggy Noonan's analysis, Obama's health care plan "has done something nobody expected: It's actually united the Republican Party, because he hasn't had a clear vision." Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images
Tina Brown, founder of the Web site The Daily Beast

Tina Brown, founder of the Web site The Daily Beast says that in Peggy Noonan's analysis, Obama's health care plan "has done something nobody expected: It's actually united the Republican Party, because he hasn't had a clear vision."

Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

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Obsession and perfection — those are just two of the themes in the articles that Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of the Web site The Daily Beast, recommends you read online this week.

One of those articles intersects with Brown's former job as editor of Vanity Fair magazine, where she worked closely with famed photographer Annie Leibovitz.

The piece, Andrew Goldman's How Could This Happen to Annie Leibovitz?, is a profile in New York magazine about the detail-driven photographer's messy financial life. Describing how Leibovitz pawned the rights to most of her work, the article's subtitle is "The $24 million question."

"Of course, I'm a great fan of Annie's," Brown tells Steve Inskeep. "A lot of her problems really stem from her extraordinary perfectionism."

"Annie's a zeitgeist creature herself," Brown says, noting that Leibovitz may have been led to over-mortgage her properties after she got caught up in the high-paced lifestyle of the wealthy celebrities she photographed.

"But I will say that I don't fear for Annie in the long-run. She's a superb talent," Brown says. "She's not a Michael Jackson figure, who wants to go off and live the life of craziness."

Also on Brown's reading list is a two-year-old article about Asperger's syndrome — an essay that has since become a book.

Tim Page's "Parallel Play" — a New Yorker piece from 2007 — describes the obsessions that dominated his childhood, from maps to music. As a result, Page writes, he lived in "a perpetual state of parallel play, alongside, but distinctly apart from, the rest of humanity."

"It speaks very much to my own heart," Brown says, "because I have an Asperger's boy myself" — her son, George.

Page's piece describes the difficulty with social interaction that many with Asperger's display. Brown can relate — as she recalls, her own son "once said to somebody, 'You could use a facelift.'

"It was all true," Brown says. "How do you explain to somebody, you know, you're speaking the truth — but you can't speak the truth, darling."

"It's not easy being these kids," Brown says. And Page's book gives a glimpse of how hard it can be.

On the political front, Brown recommends Peggy Noonan's essay "From 'Yes, We Can' to 'No! Don't!'" — a Wall Street Journal piece subtitled "Obama turns out to be brilliant at becoming, not being, president."

"Peggy is a good and thoughtful writer," Brown said. And Noonan has a problem with President Obama — that "he never seems to leveling these days, only talking," Brown says.

Brown says that in Noonan's analysis, Obama's health care plan "has done something nobody expected: It's actually united the Republican Party, because he hasn't had a clear vision."

And if you've had your fill of politics — or you just want to settle down to a longer read — Brown also recommends a new novel: Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin.

In it, the Irish writer who lives in New York tells how the lives of an unconnected group of people cross paths on one day in 1974, as a daredevil makes a tightrope walk across the World Trade Center towers.

Brown said the book is a bit like the movie Crash.

"This is an absolutely fascinating, sort of poetic but gritty account of life in New York during the '70s," Brown said.

In those days, New York was both grimy and bankrupt. Asked if the book resonates in the current age, Brown says it does. Noting Leibovitz's financial trouble, Brown said, "It feels like everywhere you turn, there is a story about somebody going broke."

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