From the Ruins of Empire author Pankaj Mishra recently visited Japan and wrote about the experience for Caravan. In particular, he was struck by the ways “much of [the country] presents a spectacle of aged modernity,” and how “it is with some shock that you recall that Japan was where once the future lay, before its bubble burst in the early 1990s, and the country, pushed inward by adversity, became a strange absence in our lives.”
Michiko Kakutani‘s generous and oddly moving review of Jay-Z‘s Decoded – in which she seems to find a kindred spirit – almost makes me want to take back all the mean things I’ve said about her. I still don’t trust her judgment, but the review’s worth reading just for the mental image of her in big headphones, nodding along to “Streets Is Watching.” Go ‘head, shorty.
“In this here place, we flesh; … Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don’t love your eyes; they’d just as soon pick em out. No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it.” Toni Morrison‘s Beloved as featured in a powerful essay by Allyson Hobbs for The Root about black life, Philando Castile, “and the trauma that remains.” See also: a consideration of parallels between Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic and The Odyssey.
“Perhaps this is why King favors prose—many of his novels and stories confront terror so enormous it transcends poetic language.” In Poetry Foundation, an essay about Stephen King‘s little known literary habit: writing poetry. Pair with: our editor Lydia Kiesling on discovering America through King’s novels.
Gordon Willis, the celebrated cinematographer who worked on The Godfather films and Annie Hall, passed away Sunday at the age of 82. The Paris Review has posted a short “In Memoriam,” which serves as both a wonderful introduction to the work of this artist and a knowing celebration of his work, complete with a video of Manhattan‘s bridge scene and an interview with Willis himself.
Not familiar with Zora Neale Hurston or just need to brush up in preparation for her birthday? Liz Dwyer has got you covered. “Through the #MeToo movement we’ve read the stories of how calling out sexual harassment and the patriarchy has ruined women’s careers. Similarly, Hurston was shunned and derided by many of her male compatriots in the Harlem Renaissance for creating one of the first strong, black, and sexually aware female protagonists of 20th century American fiction.” Hooked yet? After you finish, read this essay by our own Jeffrey Colvin on visiting Zora’s birthplace and his sister.