Writers of facial stage direction, beware: it is not actually the epitome of irony that smiling and crying can seem so oddly similar. At Aeon, Princeton professor Michael Graziono argues that the seemingly opposite gestures may just share evolutionary origins. (Pair with: Darwinist theories about “the evolution of the novel.”)
In 1932, several black Americans – including Langston Hughes – traveled to the Soviet Union to shoot a propaganda film about the “evils of racism in the United States.” One of those travelers, Lloyd Patterson, would never return. Instead, Patterson married an Ukrainian woman, and the pair had two children. The firstborn, Jim Patterson, was at one time the most famous black resident of the USSR – and his appearance in The Circus even drew the admiration of Joseph Stalin. After World War II, Patterson served as a Soviet naval officer aboard a submarine in the Black Sea. From there he went on to the Soviet Writers Union in 1967. If you think this sounds far-fetched, I encourage you to read more here.
Robert A. Caro, who releases new installments of his Lyndon B. Johnson biography at a glacial pace, is apparently also working on another project, too. It’s “not a memoir, exactly,” he says, but it does concern “how he came to write the Johnson biography and its predecessor, The Power Broker.”
“Two writers guard an archive. One writes Fiction; the other writes Fact. To get past them, you have to figure out which is which.” Recommended reading: The New Yoker‘s Jill Lepore attempts to trace the “long-lost story of the longest book ever written,” Joe Gould‘s The Oral History of Our Time.