At The Awl, a gritty interview with Daily News crime reporter Kerry Burke (who was once featured in a Bravo “reality show” Tabloid Wars that I loved but that was sadly cancelled). Burke says, “I’m not a very nice person. I’m not from a nice place. At the same time, I love these people. These are my people.”
Who invented ska music? John Jeremiah Sullivan traces the history of the genre in his latest essay for The Oxford American. “The more the claims for Rosco Gordon’s supremacy as a ska progenitor seem not out of proportion, and the less crazy it feels to say that, in a sense, ska was born in Tennessee.” Pair with: Sullivan’s essay on Bunny Wailer, who makes a cameo in his ska essay.
Recommended Reading/Listening: Maia Evrona’s translation and recitation of a poem by Abraham Sutzkever, who has been called one of the primary poets of the Holocaust. Gabriel Brownstein’s essay for The Millions on what it means to be a “Jewish writer” is a good complementary piece.
“Let me be frank,” writes our own Edan Lepucki for the opening round of this year’s Tournament of Books. “I went into this matchup excited to read The Round House, whereas I approached The Fault in Our Stars with curiosity and trepidation.” But did she wind up pleasantly surprised? Check out the rest of her write-up to see which tearjerker moved on to the next round. (Bonus: Janet Potter on John Green’s heartbreaking novel.)
This week the Paris Review launched a new online series, Big, Bent Ears, a “Serial in Documentary Uncertainty” masterminded by Sam Stephenson and Ivan Weiss. Each installation features “a combination of video, audio, photography, and writing in various arrangements and states of completion,” and the first chapter overlaps Joseph Mitchell and the Big Ears Music Festival even though “the two projects seem to share little: one concerns a wordsmith, a chronicler, and preserver of fading traditions; the other, musicians challenging tradition and musical forms on a sometimes radical basis.”
Several recent novels — among them Dave Eggers’s The Circle and Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge –tackle the effects of social media on our world. The latest, Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen, may be the best of the bunch, writes Andrew Hulktrans. At Bookforum, he explains why Cohen’s depiction of an app-saturated world is unparalleled. You could also read Jonathan Frederick Post on Cohen’s novel Witz.