"Where does the line between the self-portrait and the selfie fall? Both Kardashian West and Kahlo are masters of the form—suggesting that perhaps there is no clear line at all." Anyone who puts Frida and Kim together in an essay, as Sarah Murray has for The Rumpus, has our full and enthusiastic support. Also relevant: Alizah Salario's piece about the naming of North West.
"The concept that being American means, by definition, having an ideal that you’ve failed to live up to—that’s another crucial thing I learned from [James Alan] McPherson. It is not a rejection of America for Michelle Obama to note that her daughters are growing up in a house built by slaves. Or a rejection of a white writer to point out that Fitzgerald was a racist. Instead, it is American to admit those facts and to find in that admission a way forward." On American values, Barack Obama, and the legacy of James Alan McPherson over at The Literary Hub.
Even though Harper Lee hasn't given an interview in 50 years, her letters are an insight into the notoriously reclusive writer."I simply don't give interviews, because it takes great skill to ask meaningful questions and very few people in the media have it," she wrote in a 2005 letter. Two of Lee's letters will be auctioned today and are expected to go for at least $2,500 a piece. Pair with: Our essay on reclusive authors.
What do Talking Heads, The Smiths, Judas Priest, and Blondie have in common? They’re all featured in the playlist Picador made to accompany the paperback release of Jeffrey Eugenides's latest novel, The Marriage Plot. The Spotify list is chock full of songs “Madeleine, Leonard, and Mitchell might have been listening to in the early 1980s.” You can read Eugenides’s take on the book’s genesis over here, too.
Our good friends at The Morning News just rolled out a spiffy new look this morning! It's in support of their "news for nerds" mission, which we also wholeheartedly support. Congrats, guys. Might we suggest you celebrate by reading its co-founder (and Year in Reading alum) Rosecrans Baldwin's very funny diary from a few years back?