At My Life and Thoughts, Elif Batuman–in delightfully Elifish style–describes her first book travails and unveils a preliminary sketch for the cover of her forthcoming first book The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, drawn by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast.
Not only does China employ some two million censors to monitor microblogs and the internet, but the nation also has a formidable staff – both official and unofficial – to monitor literature and print publications. Indeed, reports Andrew Jacobs for The New York Times, “It is the editors at Chinese publishing houses themselves who often turn out to have the heaviest hands. ‘Self-censorship has become the most effective weapon,’ said the editor in chief of a prominent publishing house in Beijing … ‘If you let something slip through that catches the attention of a higher-up, it can be a career killer.’”
In more “Dylan at 70” news, the knowledgeable Ed Ward reviews the compilation How Many Roads: Black America Sings Bob Dylan for The Oxford American. (Editor’s Note: The omission from this album of Nina Simone‘s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” and Ben E. King‘s “Lay Lady Lay” are both unconscionable.)
“Somehow, in my eagerness to honor these words, I’d tamed the political intentions behind their meaning. I’d reduced my icon’s truths into affirmational pick-me-ups rather than letting them sink deeper.” Dianca Potts reflects on how to best to appreciate the fullness of Maya Angelou, Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison. We need to resist erasing their complexities in our haste to embrace them as icons or reduce them to inspirational quotes.
Tin House magazine’s new Theft issue includes gems like this poem from Matthew Zapruder and this story by Kirsten Bakis among many others. John Brandon’s essay from The Millions on the literary consequence of petty theft is a perfect follow-up read for all of you kleptomaniacs out there.