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.
New releases this week include Keith Richard’s rock memoir Life, reviewed for The Millions by Jim Santel, Michael Caine’s The Elephant to Hollywood, an "unabashedly old-school celebrity memoir” according to its New York Times review, and Stephen Sondheim’s songwriting book Finishing the Hat.
"It is early August. A black man is shot by a white policeman. And the effect on the community is of "a lit match in a tin of gasoline." No, this is not Ferguson, MO." Laila Lalami reports for NPR on rereading James Baldwin's Notes of a Native Son in the context of Ferguson. Pair with Teju Cole's essay in The New Yorker about rereading Baldwin's "Stranger in the Village."