Steve Almond treks deeper into familiar territory in the latest issue of The Baffler, wherein the essayist takes on “our lazy embrace of [Jon] Stewart and [Stephen] Colbert,” an undoubtedly strong “testament to our own impoverished comic standards.” Indeed, Almond notes, our satirists and comics today remain “careful never to question the corrupt precepts of the status quo too vigorously.”
“No one was more grimly adamant that the world was in mortal peril, or had more fun trying to save it from itself.” Over at The New Yorker‘s Page Turner blog, Alexandra Schwartz considers the life and work of Grace Paley, noting that Paley’s slim output “is a great shame, if not so surprising. Activism, like alcoholism, can distract a writer from the demands of her desk.” Also of note: this tribute to Paley that our own Garth Risk Hallberg wrote upon her death in 2007.
After the sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska died fighting in the trenches, Ezra Pound wrote a book about his work, inspiring a wave of interest that brought the sculptor to prominence. The book came out in 1916, a year after Gaudier-Brzeska’s death, and kicked off a succession of great books that tackle his sculptures. Yasmine Seale writes about their legacy in the LRB.
Beyoncé’s visual album/phenomenon Lemonade has only been out for a few days and already it has spawned countless thinkpieces. One of the best and most inspiring things to come out of it has been the #LemonadeSyllabus hashtag, popularized by Rutgers University educator Candace Benbow. The series “encourages Black women to share curated reading lists of books, poems and other inspirational literature penned by Black female authors that celebrate every aspect of what it means to be a Black woman.”
Self-published novelist Kemble Scott debuts at no. 5 on the San Francisco Chronicle’s bestseller list with The Sower, following a limited hard-cover release to Bay Area independent booksellers by Numina Press, who acquired the book after Scott’s initial e-book upload to scribd.com in May. According to Publisher’s Weekly, “The Sower has had one of the most unorthodox publishing trajectories in these changing publishing times.”
Turns out the Streisand effect applies to book sales. The Wall Street Journal reports that banning a book in China causes sales to increase both at home and abroad. “These days, smothering someone is as good as crowning that person,” the article quotes a Chinese reader as saying. You could also read Deanna Fei on being a Chinese-American writer in China.