Recommended Reading: For the writers who make coffee for their day jobs, Lucy Schiller discusses the burden of being happy all the time as a San Francisco barista in “Service with a Smile.” The essay is the first in a weekly series by The Riveter, a magazine spotlighting original longform journalism by women. Pair with Jason Diamond’s essay on being mistaken for a professional barista.
“If you remember the sixties, then you weren’t really there.” We’ve all heard the saying, but in case you actually forgot what the sixties were like, I have good news for you. The complete archive of Oz Magazine, sometimes called the most controversial magazine of the sixties, is available for download over at Open Culture. Oz regularly featured work by such artists as R. Crumb, Germaine Greer, and many more.
If you read my Year In Reading, and if you’re a really impulsive person, you probably already subscribed to The Virginia Quarterly Review. However if you needed more than just my testimonial in order to open up your wallet, perhaps their official list of “The Best Writing in VQR in 2012” will sway you.
Over at Slate, Mike Vuolo speaks with Bob Garfield about “African-American English,” or, as some might say, “Ebonics.” The two of them explore its history, misconceptions, and whether or not it’s possible or even appropriate for a white writer (such as The Help author Kathryn Stockett) to attempt to write in the dialect of certain African-Americans.
At HTML Giant, Catherine Lacey interviews David Shields, who says that his new book, How Literature Saved My Life, drew material from his stated identity as a “highly self-conscious lab rat.” For more, you can read our own Mark O’Connell’s review of his book in the Times.
Those of you with some knowledge of Pale Fire and Lolita won’t be surprised to learn what Nabokov thought of dinner parties. Namely, he thought they were awful, vaguely surreal events, held largely by drunkards with overriding appetites for drama. At The Paris Review Daily, Sadie Stein quotes a passage from “The Vane Sisters” to explain why “It’s hard to think of someone you’d want less at a midcentury faculty tea, save maybe a seething Shirley Jackson.” You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.
“Like characters in a somewhat less swashbuckling Jack London novel, these are all characters, and writers, who are grappling with their environments.” Our own Lydia Kiesling writes for Salon about the “caucasian, Ivy-educated writers of literary fiction set in Brooklyn” and the novels they’re producing, particularly the just-released-yesterday Friendship by Emily Gould.