The Atavist has been killing it lately. Last month, I was riveted by Joshuah Bearman’s outrageous (and completely true) story of one Brit’s attempt to bring a “Baghdad Country Club” to the city’s Green Zone. This month, “Mother, Stranger,” Cris Beam’s account of her abusive mother–a distant relative of William Faulkner–had me on the verge of tears.
Yesterday I told you about a ridiculously rare signed copy of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, a poem famously loaded with coldness and sterility and failed human intimacy. Later this month, some new letters will be published that reveal the depth of Eliot’s mental anguish over the breakdown of his first marriage with his wife, Vivien. Eliot has long been accused (maybe fairly) of treating Vivien with intolerable cruelty and attributing to her mental state, and these letters aim to complicate that narrative.
Recommended Reading: “Ursula’s Curse,” an excerpt from a forthcoming Eugene Lim novel. The piece’s protagonist seems less concerned with the end of his life (and maybe the human race) than he is with remembering an artist who tried to reach “a limit to the art market’s baseness.”
“LET THERE BE stress. Let the body respond to stress as it does to injury and infection. Let stress be a vulture that pecks at the mind and devours the body. This will make people less likely to be stressed. When they see stress wreak wrath upon the body, they will surely calm down a lot.” It seems the big problem with intelligent design is that it had a pretty sub-par peer review.