Graduation season is upon us, and college students across the nation are listening to esteemed commencement speakers. Some get treated to the likes of Bill Watterson, Jon Stewart, or Barbara Kingsolver. (I got to listen to The Rock.) In the thrill of the moment, it feels like it hardly matters who’s at the podium. One wonders if audiences really grasp the material in these speeches right away, or if the speaker’s words only become clear later on. Inspired by David Foster Wallace’s iconic Kenyon address in 2005, our own Kevin Hartnett tried to find out.
“I Didn’t Tell Facebook I’m Engaged, So Why Is It Asking About My Fiancé?” or, FB continues to make people feel a little awkward.
“[C]an we finally be bold and listen to the artists and the outsiders and the radicals and the freaks and the avant-garde and the base and the youth and the anarchists and all those who don’t want to do business as usual with the limousine liberalism of both the elite Democrats and Republicans? Can we listen to the dreamers instead of the doubters?” Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen has some big, important questions in The Los Angeles Times.
Out this week: Wait Till You See Me Dance by Deb Olin Unferth; Our Short History by Lauren Grodstein; Lucky You by Erika Carter; An Arrangement of Skin by Anna Journey; The River of Kings by Taylor Brown; and More Alive and Less Lonely by Jonathan Lethem. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Colm Tóibín’s new book on Elizabeth Bishop is unusually hard to categorize. Part “primer,” part “personal reflection,” in Jonathan Farmer’s words, it moves back and forth between analysis and lyricism, alternating passages of beauty with nuts-and-bolts guides to Bishop’s poems. In Slate, Farmer tries to nail it down. You could also read our own Michael Bourne’s review of Tóibín’s The Master.
“For that reason, it’s hard to imagine coming to this book for the first time, and experiencing it in the same way as that college senior back in 2003.” The Outline on the 15-year anniversary of Chuck Klosterman‘s Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. (Read our review of the king of pop culture’s newest book.)