Richard Branson has built a global business empire (Virgin Group) around the philosophy “have fun and the money will come.” Branson’s new book, Screw Business as Usual, says there’s a way to make money and also do good. And speaking of having fun, watch Branson and Steven Colbert get into a fire extinguisher/water fight.
Did you know there was such a thing as the Prime Minister's Literary Awards? It's true. Since 2007, Australia has named winners annually in six categories (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children's fiction, young adult fiction, and Australian history) – and the prize money's pretty good, too. Speaking of prizes, you might also want to check out the list of U.S. National Book Awards finalists here.
To the debate over whether or not male writers have trouble creating realistic female characters, we can add the opinion of Ester Bloom, who argues at The Hairpin that most male writers mold their female characters according to four archetypes: the virgin, the whore, the mother and the bitch.
"How can we represent four hundred years of American literary history in a way that doesn’t reinforce the unfortunate hierarchies of those four hundred years?" Year in Reading alum Rebecca Makkai writes for Electric Literature about the opening of the new American Writers Museum in Chicago and what it means to curate an historical canon of letters. See also: our interview with Makkai from a couple of years back.
“Can we ever pinpoint a person’s true identity? … How can we point to something in the world with complete accuracy, without also being meaninglessly redundant? Harpo’s answer to ‘who are you?’ is a visual-gag version of the Buddha’s infuriatingly honest answer to the same question. When asked who he was, he would say, gesturing to himself: I am thathagatha (the one who is like this).” On Groucho Marx, nihilism, and the destruction of comedy over at Slate.
"What I’ve found is that a lot of soldiers are surprisingly apolitical. Their reality is, 'Today I’m going to leave the gate for twelve hours, and I’m going to make it back to the dining facility by sundown with the arms and legs of me and my buddies intact.' So you say, 'Well, what about the Project for the New American Century and the preexisting agenda blah blah blah?' They go, 'Yeah, that’s cool, but I have to get through today.' So their reality is not a political reality as much as it’s, 'If I’m driving by this piece of garbage, will it blow up?'" Revisit this old interview with Henry Rollins over at Guernica Magazine, which manages the nearly impossible: to be both level-headed and political.
"Maybe I’m not outraged. I’m exhausted and open and exposed and a lot of other people are too because we are wounds that get picked at and picked at and picked at one day, there won’t be anything left to heal." At The Rumpus, Roxane Gay writes on the sexism and racism of Seth MacFarlane's Oscars jokes.