Jeff Chang, whose Can’t Stop Wont Stop I just can’t recommend enough for anyone interested in the history of hip hop, has a great piece in the LARB on rap music and the 1992 LA Riots. The LA Times also ran a compelling essay on Toddy Tee, N.W.A. and other prescient west coast MCs, the forefathers of what became commercial gangsta rap.
If you’ve ever heard that literary skill is synonymous with a good memory, you’ve likely bemoaned your own forgetfulness, especially when it comes to important things. Tim Parks felt the same way, until he read a new book on forgetting, which led him to wonder how much knowledge we can retain. In The New York Review of Books, he tackles the paradox of the reader’s memory. You could also read our own Mark O’Connell’s review of Parks’s book Italian Ways.
Joshua Cohen’s new novel has gotten a lot of attention for its odd relationship with Internet culture. In The New Republic, he talks with Gideon Lewis-Kraus in a Gchat, explaining his view that “it’s time writing took something back from the Internet.” Pair with Cohen’s Millions interview from 2012.
"It comprises 10 short stories written by Iraqis, all of whom were guided by a simple yet fertile premise: What might Iraq look like a century from now?" The Atlantic review's Tor's anthology Iraq + 100 (originally published last year by Comma Press in England), which was released stateside last month—in an attempt to bring visibility to an underrepresented group of writers in America. Read The Millions' review of the "ambitious short story collection" from March.
"I am worried about the implications of throwing the label 'women’s pain' around individual experiences of suffering, and I am even more uncomfortable with women who feel free to speak for all women. I worry about making pain a ticket to gain entry into the women’s club. And I worry that the assumption of vulnerability threatens to invigorate just the sexist evils it aims to combat by demanding that men serve as shields against it." In an essay for the Boston Review, Jessa Crispin shares her concerns about the "wounded women" trend in literature right now, citing Leslie Jamison's The Empathy Exams and Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist as well the Twitter campaign #yesallwomen as particular examples. Pair with Ryan Teitman's Millions review of The Empathy Exams.
Nobody wants to be a Hufflepuff! Over at The Atlantic, David Sims defends the oft-maligned Harry Potter house for their egalitarian ethos and general goodness. At The Millions, Michelle Dean’s essay about the value of J.K. Rowling’s Potter series will have you wanting to give them a re-read.