I’ll Have Another scratched from the Belmont yesterday, which dashed our hopes of seeing the first Triple Crown winner since 1978, but you can still get excited for today’s race by checking out this beautiful passage from John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Blood-Horses.
"Young black fiction writers in the U.S. often face a strange obstacle as they try to figure out who they are — it’s called American literature. A high number of pre-civil-rights-era novels by white American writers are likely to include tossed-off racial slurs and/or stock black characters, some of which make racially conscious readers want to hurl the book across the room, even if the wooly-headed pickaninnies are only peeking around a doorjamb on one page out of 400. There are exceptions, but shockingly few. You always have to brace yourself — always." James Hannaham writes about growing up in Yonkers but finding himself in Southern literature.
In The New York Review of Books, Anthony Grafton has a long piece on the issues facing the American university system. I've previously linked to Malcolm Harris' excellent n+1 piece on the "higher education bubble," but this infographic vividly illustrates that same inflation.
Half of all restaurants that open close," WORD owner Christine Onorati says. On the other hand, Red Lemonade publisher Richard Nash hopes former Borders employees can find ways to continue "operating as the matchmakers of the book ecosystem."
Though everyone is tired of the online critics are too nice/ do critics even matter debate cropping up everywhere as of late, Daniel Mendelsohn's "Critic's Manifesto" may be the best thing to come out of the conversation yet: a clear formulation of what it means to be a critic and why that matters.
"(The Great Gatsby) is often considered the greatest American novel of the 20th century—I waver on that sometimes but I love the beauty of its writing, its tabloid immediacy, the high body count, its modernistic touches, the relentless drama put into its novella-length form." Bret Easton Ellis's top ten favorite books doesn't include many surprises, but it's worth a look.