Posts Tagged: The Atlantic
Paul Moran began collecting John Updike’s trash in 2006, three years before the writer’s death. He found discarded photos, story drafts, and honorary degrees. The acquisition of curbside trash seems perfectly legal in Massachusetts, even if Updike and his wife took measures to dissuade Moran’s efforts....more
Memoirist (and former editor-at-large of McSweeney’s) Sean Wilsey talks to The Atlantic about his essay collection, More Curious, and why humor writing resonates:
I think there’s something dishonest about writing that isn’t funny. I can’t engage with a piece of work without an element of humor to it.
Two art professors at Eastern Michigan University are exploring what a book is and what it will be in the future in their Open Book Project, which has thus far involved an exhibition, a 248-page book, and workshops where artists imagine the forms books of the future could take....more
While readers today might think of Jane Austen novels as the equivalent of 18th century bodice rippers, money, wealth, and economics played a major role both in their creation and in their narrative. Austen wrote as much for financial benefit as for art....more
For the Atlantic, Shawn Miller argues that what we decide to erase, through our technology, is often more enlightening that what is kept. Drawing an analogy between Middle Age palimpsests and a 19th-century Italian priest, Angelo Mai, who dedicated his life to finding what past monks had scraped off parchment and written over, Miller wonders what deleted information of ours historians will be interested in examining in the future:
So, the questions we should ask ourselves today: What information are we devaluing now?
Political fiction can come across as heavy-handed, but avoiding all politics in writing may overlook the fact that people lead political lives. Over at the Atlantic, author Molly Antopol talks about how reading the fiction of Grace Paley taught her to write about political characters without sounding preachy—as she puts it, political fiction without a capital P:
When political fiction fails, it can be because it manifests a kind of moral certitude, an assured sense that one worldview is better or truer than another.
The 50th anniversary edition of Lunch Poems, the collection written by Frank O’Hara in 1964, has caught attention recently over at The Atlantic. The book has always been important to New Yorkers, and evidently it still is—in 2012, it was voted into the top ten list of objects that best tell New York’s story (it came in at #6)....more
Memorial Day is a time of both national reflection and diverse local tradition. In a piece connecting poetry and community storytelling, The Atlantic offers some literary history in observance of this past weekend’s holiday. Two years after the end of the Civil War, the magazine published Francis Miles Finch’s conciliatory poem, ”The Blue and The Gray.” Finch, a northerner, was inspired to write the piece by four women in Columbus, Mississippi, who decorated the graves of deceased Confederates and Union soldiers alike in a gesture of nonpartisan respect. Today, students in Columbus honor the event by retelling the life stories of those buried in that cemetery....more
Love libraries? So do we. Know someone who thinks physical libraries will eventually disappear? Have them watch this mini-documentary, Why Libraries Matter, over at the Atlantic. A look at a day in the life of New York City’s public libraries reveals the many reasons people use libraries and why we shouldn’t let them disappear....more
We linked to an Atlantic article in January about the recent decline in readers in America. According to the article, 23 percent of Americans went without reading a single novel in 2013.
Now, Time has a summary of a recent study of reading’s effects on the brain. As expected, the activity roughly a quarter of Americans forwent last year is statistically correlated with cultivating social awareness, creativity, and empathy; in other words, pretty good things....more
Happy endings are hard to come by in great literature, especially in stories that center on affluent American suburbs and their inhabitants. Over at the Atlantic, writer Ted Thompson looks at the hopeful and redemptive (but still believable) dramatic climax of John Cheever’s “The Housebreaker of Shady Hill”:
This is one of the things that’s so apparent when you’re reading Cheever: his openness to redemptive beauty.
We live in a heyday of punctuation. “Call this what you will—exclamatory excess, punctuation inflation, the result of the Internet’s limitless expanse—it is everywhere,” writes Megan Garber at the Atlantic. But perhaps not for long—with the rise of image-based expression like emoji and gifs, we are finding new ways to express ourselves, and we’re leaving exclamation points and question marks out of it....more
“I once asked a talented and fairly famous colleague how he managed to regularly produce such highly regarded 8,000 word features. “Well,” he said, “first, I put it off for two or three weeks. Then I sit down to write. That’s when I get up and go clean the garage.
According to a recent Pew poll, 23 percent of Americans didn’t read even a single book last year.
That number has been rising steadily, from 8 percent in 1978, to 16 percent in 1990, to the current figure.
The Atlantic‘s Jordan Weissman says “the downturn might be over”—but the prognosis isn’t looking great....more
Poetry is always already revolutionary, then. What it says hardly matters. Poetry is useful because of its useless essence, not because of its individual meaning.
Of course, this is nonsense.
The way Noah Berlatsky sees it, mainstream culture and poets agree with each other that poetry is useless—it’s just that most people see that as a bad thing while poets see it as a good thing....more
We have written about the dangers of reading the comments before online. There are times however when it can be beneficial. Simone Supekar writes over at The Atlantic about how the comments on the internet helped her cope with a disease:
“In an ideal world, there’d always be a George Clooney nearby, reassuring us of our inner strength during rough times.
Editor of The Atlantic, Scott Stossel, suffers from anxiety, and he’s hardly alone. In an essay called “Surviving Anxiety,” Stossel chronicles his lifetime battle with the nation’s most common mental illness, describing himself from the age of two on as “a twitchy bundle of phobias, fears, and neuroses.”
After failed attempts to use therapy, drugs, and booze to manage his condition, Stossel describes his essay as a “coming out” story, and writes in hopes of providing others with evidence that they too can “cope and even thrive” in spite of the illness....more
Sometimes, during the sparkly onslaught of holiday-season diamond commercials, someone you know might remark that diamonds aren’t inherently very valuable and that there’s a conspiracy among diamond dealers to keep supply low and demand high.
As Edward Jay Epstein detailed in this classic Atlantic article from the archives, that conspiracy not only exists—it goes way, way deeper than you ever imagined....more
It will make them smarter! Elaine Reese writes at The Atlantic about the slew of benefits to your children when you share family stories with them, including being able to tell a more complete narrative to others and a better understanding of thoughts and emotions....more
The Atlantic gave the Rumpus’s own Sari Botton, Melissa Febos, Mira Ptacin, and Cheryl Strayed a chance to delve deeper into their contributions to the anthology “Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York.”
In a roundtable discussion with Marie-Helene Westgate, they discuss what it’s like to leave a city that, as Westgate puts it, “is a human entity unto itself: one capable of offering earth-shattering sex, endlessly stimulating conversation, and eventual transcendence, too.”
Hear their takes on questions like: “Is there a sense that leaving New York…constitutes a failure of character?” and more—and be sure to check out our two excerpted chapters from the book, one by Elisa Albert and one by Melissa Febos, right here on the Rumpus....more
It’s no secret that in this day of instant everything, society as a collective whole have lost a lot of patience. Jessica Lahey at The Atlantic talks about how an assignment from her son’s school made her realize the lack of patience in schools and society today....more