The Summer Olympics begin in exactly one month, so I recommend checking out this 52-minute American Experience episode on Olympic legend Jesse Owens to set the tone.
“The media of my childhood, mostly weekly television shows and overused VHS tapes, was like a good pet. Sure, it was a little costly to keep around, but it was lovable, and I could always shut it out in the yard for a while. Now, though, media is always with me, always trying to snag my attention and siphon away as much as possible to sell to advertisers. It feels like it’s evolved from a cute little pet into a frighteningly efficient parasite.”
“It can not be that I monopolize / The making of the songs that give you praise / Or that such pools as are your dearest eyes / Have just one bather through the unclear days. / Then, let me take my place amid the pack, / If I so pack my songs with your rare worth / There were no quality they then should lack / But they were bettered by that happy death.” A previously unpublished Ezra Pound sonnet selling at auction is always newsworthy–especially when it fetches nearly $12,000. Here is a related Millions piece about the difficult poetry of Ezra Pound, John Berryman, and Ted Berrigan.
Another hip-hip for long-form journalism. George Packer's piece in the New Yorker on Richard Holbrooke and the Af-Pak War reminds one that some things -- complicated geopolitical matters, for example -- must be explored at length. Subscribers can read the full article in the digital edition here. Short of that, read Packer's assessment of the McChrystal Report on his blog.
Attention New York-based readers: This Friday evening at 7:00, The Millions staff writer Edan Lepucki will read from her novella If You're Not Yet Like Me at Book Court bookstore in Brooklyn. Joining her will be fellow Flatmancrooked author Shya Scanlon, who will read from his novel, Forecast. Don't miss it!
“Even weeks after its publication, no one agrees on What Happened and Clinton’s ability to assess her own past. But in post-truth America, the truth that becomes history may well be decided by star-rating.” The Guardian considers how Amazon reviews became the new battlefield of US politics. Namechecked in the piece: Nancy MacLean, whom we interviewed about her new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, here.
Out this week: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid; South and West: From a Notebook by Joan Didion; All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg; Ill Will by Dan Chaon; The Accusation by Bandi; The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge; and American Berserk by our own Bill Morris. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
For every book lover who also values comfortable footwear, New Balance has announced a line of sneakers inspired by great American literature.