James Baldwin was more famous for being an essayist and novelist, but he was also a film critic. At The Atlantic, Noah Berlatsky argues that Baldwin should be considered one of the best film critics for The Devil Finds Work. “Baldwin shows that criticism is art, which means that it doesn’t need a purpose or a rationale other than truth, or beauty, or keeping faith, or doing whatever it is we think art is trying to do.” For more on Baldwin, read our essay on his epiphanies.
Noam Chomsky, in conversation at the University of Arizona, derides the rising cost of university tuition. He goes on to say student fees are “a general form of indoctrination and control, which goes down to kindergarten. I mean, that’s what No Child Left Behind is about. It’s training for the Marine Corps.”
Remember when Esquire released their not-so-great list of eighty books every man should read? Well, they have amended their list to eighty books every person should read, asking advice from “eight female literary powerhouses” including Roxane Gay, Michiko Kakutani and Lauren Groff. Our own Janet Potter recommends twenty-eight books you should read if you want to.
“Maybe our anointed literary books just have to be earnest ones because earnest ones showcase that soupçon of intelligence. Maybe humor isn’t felt to indicate a genuine commitment to looking smart.” Year in Reading alum Lydia Millet talks with Jenny Offill about humor writing, what books are “anointed” as modern classics, and Millet’s new book, Mermaids in Paradise.
Out this week: The Last Good Paradise by Tatjana Soli; My Documents by Alejandro Zambra; The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman; A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler; The First Wife by Erica Spindler; The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth; Sweet Nothing by Richard Lange; and The Strange Case of Rachel K by Millions 2013 Year in Reading favorite Rachel Kushner. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.