The Atlantic interviews Erin Gruwell, a teacher whose methods for teaching her students about prejudice became the basis of a book (and subsequent movie) called The Freedom Writers. Named after a group of bus-riding civil rights activists, the students in her classes wrote lengthy journal entries — many of them relating to their own personal traumas — in order to compare them with diaries by historical figures. Writing journals, Gruwell says, helped her students learn to like schoolwork.
Over at The Guardian, Charlotte Jones takes issue with the recently announced sequel of Pride and Prejudice. The book by Terri Fleming will focus on the life of Mary Bennett, a character who is deliberately neglected by Jane Austen. As Jones puts it, “Lizzie only has space in the book for a remarkable interior life because her sisters do not. Even beautiful Jane is a bit insipid – a fact Austen knowingly plays with, as her eventual engagement to Bingley is briefly threatened by Jane’s reticence.”
The Wall Street Journal sent Geoff Dyer a bottle of El Segundo Brewing Company’s Blue House Citra Pale ale, and asked him to write about it. Because he’s Geoff Dyer, and there isn’t a topic (e.g. aircraft carriers, photography) on Earth that he can’t write about, he of course obliged.
The long-awaited follow-up to Yann Martel’s Booker-winner Life of Pi is out: Beatrice and Virgil. Also new, Elegy for April, a thriller by John Banville alter ego Benjamin Black; David Lipsky’s already much discussed interview with David Foster Wallace, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself; and, apparently hitting shelves ahead of its official release date, a book of philosophy by Marilynne Robinson, Absence of Mind.