Prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay have access to 18,000 books in 18 different languages, including Arabic translations of King Lear, Anna Karenina, and Stephen King thrillers. But books deemed critical of the US government, including Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Noam Chomsky’s Interventions, and various John Grisham novels, are banned....more
According to research by the Global Media Monitoring Project, women comprise 24% of the people read about or heard in print, radio, and television news—a statistic that has changed very little in the last twenty years. The Women’s Media Center outlines actions being taken around the world to combat gender bias in media reporting....more
I have heard writers take a stand that they are above Twitter and Instagram, superior for not participating in social media. It’s true the self-promotion feels inauthentic and tacky, but it can be brave to participate in the conversation with good intention.
Lilian Min writes for The Toast about the tangled politics of ugly food:
I grew up in a household that was comfortable with farts, burps, intense smells, and food that facilitated all of the above. My dad would eat raw garlic and chase my sister and me around the kitchen, and then the whole family would sit down for dinner rich in not just garlic, but also ginger, hoisin sauce, black vinegar, sesame oil, and a thousand other strong scents and flavors.
If you win, then you talk to the other winners, congratulating and praising them. If you lose, then you read through your submission, noting mistakes that weren’t there five minutes before, wondering where you went wrong,” she adds. “You tell yourself, ‘It doesn’t really matter.
Brain Pickings dives into the young love lives of George Orwell, then known as Eric Blair, and Jacintha Buddicom. Jacintha was famously the model for Julia in Nineteen Eighty-Four, and the interactions between Orwell and Buddicom as they age may be just as heartbreaking, ending with a bittersweet reunion just before Orwell’s death....more
On the eve of a new biopic and on the long tail of posthumous publishing and popularization—Christian Lorentzen takes a long, compassionate, critical look at David Foster Wallace and on the ways in which a prolific writer gets written into the public memory—as intellectual behemoth, creative luminary, contemptuous snob, major depressive, motivational speaker:
A writer who courted contradiction and paradox, who could come on as a curmudgeon and a scold, who emerged from an avant-garde tradition and never retreated into conventional realism, he has been reduced to a wisdom-dispensing sage on the one hand and shorthand for the Writer As Tortured Soul on the other.
The house appears to blend in with its landscape, almost disappear beside canopy trees until it’s in danger of becoming an afterthought. There is nothing particularly regal about it. It’s the type of place one of Fitzgerald’s characters would have driven by and forgotten about by the time his motorcar rounded the next bend, or never noticed at all.
It’s strange, how you go from a being person who is away from home to a person with no home at all. The country that is supposed to want you has pushed you out. No other country takes you in. You are unwanted, by everyone.
We here in the US are shitty. Also the rest of the world is shitty. Reading books in translation reminds us of this. The rest of the world is as shitty as we are, only it’s a different kind of shit, and the poets have different approaches to documenting and responding to the shit.
It’s well-known by the literary crowd that authors don’t get to choose the artwork for their book covers. Except when they do, as in the case of Naomi Jackson, author of The Star Side of Bird Hill, who convinced her publisher to use Sheena Rose’s painting “Too Much Makeup” as her cover:
I shrieked with joy when I saw the galleys of The Star Side of Bird Hill earlier this year.
Fear not if you don’t have any vacation plans this summer. Quartz has created a literary playlist of nine contemporary Latin American authors that will utterly transport you....more
(n.); the process of forgetting;
“Curiously enough, one cannot read a book: one can only reread it. When we read a book for the first time, the very process of laboriously moving our eyes from left to right, line after line, page after page, this complicated physical work upon the book, the very process of learning in terms of space and time what the book is about, this stands between us and artistic appreciation.”
–Vladmir Nabokov, from “Good Readers and Good Writers”
This week, Tim Parks takes us on a wonderfully meditative reflection on something we tend, as readers, to take for granted: the physical act of moving one’s eyes across the page, of engaging with words, and—unavoidably—forgetting them....more
The bookends, which cost $88.50 per set, have already sold out (and the two sets that made their way to eBay as of this writing sold for $275 and $300).
Architect Thom Mayne and his wife purchased the house and received a permit to tear it down early this year....more
Language is a shape-shifting thing. For some, it is purely the written word, and for others, it is movement, color, texture, light. In its art-themed Sunday Book Review, the New York Times explores how five artists react to five different books through visual compositions....more
Government documents aren’t exactly page-turners, making hefty tombs like the 74,000 page tax code and the 33,000 page Obamacare law unlikely additions to any summer beach reading lists. The 1,200 page Department of Defense Law of War Manual might seem comparatively short, until you realize its a document that defines every military procedure from the very basic rules of conduct to the limits of torture....more
The campaign to get a woman on an American paper bill has been long, but even with the decision to reissue the ten-dollar bill in 2020, advocates aren’t completely satisfied:
This decision, announced last week by Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew, has been met with considerable puzzlement from those who wonder why we would demote Hamilton, the founder of our financial system, instead of Andrew Jackson, who was the architect of the Trail of Tears, an opponent of central banking, and the target of the grassroots campaign to get a woman on the twenty-dollar bill, led by the group Women on 20s.
“All good love songs are sad,” Paul McCartney, who knew, once told this reporter. The mystery is that while what we want is love fulfilled, what we actually feel most deeply about is love frustrated.
What do Shakespeare’s love sonnets and Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” have in common?...more
Even the animal kingdom is more progressive than the US. Penguins have been forming same-sex romantic relationships for as long as penguins have existed, and none of their compatriots ever batted a wing. The Dodo looks back at some of the most “aww”-inducing penguin pairs, because why not celebrate love with adorable pictures of birds?...more
When I got older, I discovered that this sense of play wasn’t limited to the young. There were plenty of adults out there writing radically experimental books formally guided by the notion that a book could be more than a book—it could be a vexing puzzle, a winding labyrinth, a stubborn gauntlet, a spooky carnival full of creaky rides, even a sandbox.