In a New York Times op-ed piece on violence in children’s literature, Maria Tatar claims that “the savagery we offer children today is more unforgiving than it once was.” Is that really the case? Adam Gidwitz‘s A Tale Dark And Grimm (reviewed by the Times last November), which underscores the violence inherent in Grimm’s tales, can be read as a counterpoint.
“Are you sure you need to give me that summer reading list-library flyer-academic camp brochure? Are you sure that I can’t just let my kids get dumber by 1/3rd until they come back here in the fall like we all used to?” Are you sure there isn’t anything I can do? Welcome to every teacher’s nightmare, courtesy of McSweeney’s.
Earlier this month, Ta-Nahisi Coates published a conversation-changing long form article on race and reparations in The Atlantic (we covered other pundits’ responses here). Now, he is blogging a brief bibliography of the sources he consulted while writing that seminal essay. Parts one and two are available now, with two more installments planned for today and tomorrow. Whether or not you agree with Coates, it’s a fantastic reading list on race relations in America.
“Anyone reading my fiction would never guess how seriously I take food.” Extra Crispy has an interview with Junot Díaz about his diet, with particular attention given to breakfast: “I split my time between two cities so when I’m in Boston there’s a Dominican restaurant called Merengue that serves the classic Dominican breakfast of mangú, fried egg, and fried salami. I leave off the fried cheese because well, damn.” If you’re hungry for more, might we also suggest our own Nick Ripatrazone‘s ode to the day’s first meal, as it figures in both literature and life.
Graywolf Press’s Poem of the Week is “Don’t You Wonder, Sometimes?” by David Bowie-fan Tracy K. Smith. She writes, “Bowie will never die. Nothing will come for him in his sleep / Or charging through his veins.” Pair with Sophia Nguyen’s Millions review of Smith’s new memoir, Ordinary Light.
On the occasion of Scribner’s publication of the “Restored Edition” of A Moveable Feast, Gioia Diliberto, biographer of Ernest Hemingway’s wife Hadley, writes of her discovery of the Hadley Hemingway tapes.Sarah Schmelling’s McSweeney’s piece “Hamlet (Facebook News Feed Edition)” has spawned a book Ophelia Joined the Group Maidens Who Don’t Float: Classic Lit Signs on to Facebook, the canon retold in social networking parlance.Speaking of the canon, The Second Pass plays devil’s advocate and tells us which of history’s most praised books are best avoided. (We will pass over in silence the inclusion of One Hundred Years of Solitude.)Mark Athitakis writes about the National Book Award in 1980, “an interesting time for the prize.” The previous year, publishers pulled out of the awards, contending according to an NYT article, “the awards favored little-read books.” (This criticism resurfaced in 2004.) After 1980, the festivities ballooned to eight fiction categories before eventually being scaled back in subsequent years. (via Maud)In Slate, Nathaniel Rich wonders why “the most peaceful people on earth [Scandinavians] write the greatest homicide thrillers.”The “Significant Objects project,” in which worthless trinkets are sold on eBay along with original fiction written about said worthless trinkets, has launched. Participants include Curtis Sittenfeld, Lydia Millet, Matthew Sharpe, Sam Lipsyte, and a few dozen others. The eBay auctions can be found here.