If you've ever had a successful friend you secretly envied and maybe even hated, you may be in startlingly good company: a new reading of an old letter between Groucho Marx and T.S. Eliot indicates that the "flamboyant misanthrope and the restrained one" shared exactly this kind of frenemyship. Unrelated: a short recording of Eliot reading "The Naming of Cats."
In conversation with New Yorker writer Jia Tolentino, Swing Time author Zadie Smith explained why she doesn't engage in social media: “I want to have my feeling, even if it’s wrong, even if it’s inappropriate, express it to myself in the privacy of my heart and my mind. I don’t want to be bullied out of it," according to the the Huffington Post. Read Sarah Labrie's essay on social media anxiety from our archives.
"Set in the 2020s and 2030s in a collapsing and crashed America, the Parables books have always seemed incredibly and disturbingly prescient—and in the wake of November 8, 2016 they now seem downright spooky, the actual and accurate history of the future." How Octavia Butler predicted the present. See also: our consideration of Butler's novel Kindred.
The Virginia Quarterly Review's Fall 2011 issue, "The Soviet Ghost", is now available online. Not to be missed is Ed Ou's heartbreaking essay and slideshow on how the Soviet government performed nuclear weapons tests on innocent Kazakh citizens. Dimiter Kenarov's essay on Belarusian tractors is simultaneously a personal journey, an impressive work of history, and a good ol' fashioned KGB crime story.
You may remember the brouhaha surrounding Bustle, the first website in history to market primarily to women. Now, in this week’s New Yorker, Lizzie Widdicombe profiles the website, which she describes by pointing out that “[its] articles are modest, but the ambitions of its founder, a young Silicon Valley entrepreneur named Bryan Goldberg, are not.”