"Here is the trouble with looking for ourselves in the writers whose works we admire, at least if we are proposing to be their biographers. For if we are in search of ourselves, or in this case our own troubled teenaged selves roaming New York, then we are apt to downplay those parts of the life that don’t correspond with that need for recognition." Anne Boyd Rioux writes about biography and the distance, good or bad, between subject and biographer for the Los Angeles Review of Books.
Canonical literature isn't the only way to learn about America. The bestseller list can be equally as telling. Matthew Kahn is reading 100 years of No. 1 bestsellers from 1913 to 2013. He blogs about the books and discusses the project in an interview with Salon's Laura Miller. When Miller asks what makes a bestseller, he claims, "A lot of it is just a matter of accessibility. A focus on plot and character rather than structure and the prose itself."
Beauty is in the eye of the writer. Adelle Waldman discusses why many novelists fail to address female beauty in a meaningful and nuanced way. "Women are not only subject to a constant and exhausting and sometimes humiliating scrutiny—they are also belittled for caring about their beauty, mocked for seeking to enhance or to hold onto their good looks, while men are just, well, being men."
"She gathered books to display for attendees and discovered that inside the cover of one, 'The Koran for Dummies,' someone had written “lies cover to cover,” drawn a swastika and made a disparaging remark about the Prophet Muhammad." The president of the American Library Association reports “startling increases” in 2016 of vandalism, including hateful messages, at libraries. The Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has begun formally tracking such incidents to determine whether the increase is “a blip or a trend.”
Photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher uses powerful scanning electron microscopes to provide “an unexpected view of [a] familiar subject: … human tears.”