Noreen Malone – writing in Slate – launches a rearguard action against the em-dash. Is it fair to harbor punctuation prejudice? If so, a confession: I can’t stand the ampersand.
Claudia Rankine’s new book of poetry, Citizen, is getting a lot of attention in part due to its meditations on race in modern America. In the latest issue of BOMB, Lauren Berlant interviews the poet, asking her about micro-aggressions, Kara Walker and the implicit tone of the word “citizen.”
In his column in the Chicago Tribune today, Eric Zorn describes a particularly ugly incident that occurred at a library not far from where I live. Somebody set fire to a number of books at the John Merlo branch of the Chicago Public Library. Making matters worse, it appears as though the arsonist targeted the gay and lesbian books section of the library, which itself is located in a neighborhood with a large gay population. From Zorn’s column: Staffers detected the fire quickly and used an extinguisher to put it out before anyone was hurt. The library remained open, and if you visit there today, the only reminders of the incident are gaps on several shelves where destroyed books used to sit.But the location makes it a bigger event. For both symbolic and safety reasons, the idea of arson in the stacks, no matter how relatively unsuccessful, is chilling. Public libraries are not only embodiments of liberty but, with all that paper, prospective tinderboxes.More chilling still to many is that the unknown arsonist chose to set the fire in the heart of the Chicago area’s largest unified collection of gay and lesbian-oriented books.Zorn explores the topic further at his blog explaining why he decided to devote his column to what was, admittedly, a very minor fire, wondering “Do we not, in some ways, magnify the power of a hate crime when we publicize it?”I’m glad he decided to write the column. Coming on the heels of a book-banning attempt in a nearby school district, it’s been a rough couple of months for books in the Chicago area.Update: It turns out it wasn’t a hate crime. As Eric Zorn explains, they caught the culprit, a 21-year-old homeless woman who set the fire because “she was angry at library staff for being rude to her.”
“One hears, in the news, that one new fad after another is sweeping the academy. World literature, digital humanities, book history, cognitive science. Perhaps everyone will just watch TV (there are twenty-seven panels on The Wire, and at least a paper, I recall, on Rizzoli and Isles, a TNT show)…The elephant in the room, or the one that has left the room a while ago (but whose stinking presence everyone still inhales deeply or holds their nose after), is Theory.” N + 1 reviews MLA 2013.