In 1932, several black Americans – including Langston Hughes – traveled to the Soviet Union to shoot a propaganda film about the “evils of racism in the United States.” One of those travelers, Lloyd Patterson, would never return. Instead, Patterson married an Ukrainian woman, and the pair had two children. The firstborn, Jim Patterson, was at one time the most famous black resident of the USSR – and his appearance in The Circus even drew the admiration of Joseph Stalin. After World War II, Patterson served as a Soviet naval officer aboard a submarine in the Black Sea. From there he went on to the Soviet Writers Union in 1967. If you think this sounds far-fetched, I encourage you to read more here.
“Why write in an unlovable genre with an inevitably hectoring tone? Dystopia, situated in a dangerous no-man’s-land between the pulpit of the preacher and the safe sniper post of the satirist.” Future futurists, take note: the New York Review of Books reviews Chang-Rae Lee’s addition to your dystopic shelf, On Such a Full Sea, and ponders the virtues of the dystopic endeavor itself. (Bonus: Lee writes about his own 2013 Year in Reading here at The Millions.)
Ever-expanding Amazon is getting in on the app store action with an app store of its own, launching today (and featuring, what else, Angry Birds). Some analysts believe the move presages a plan for Amazon to launch a more fully featured tablet, modeled on the Kindle, but able to play all the movies, music (and now apps) that Amazon now sells in digital form.
A translation guide to writing workshops that we’re definitely printing out and bringing along to our next one. “Sometimes when people say ‘show, don’t tell,’ what they mean is that they find the characters sympathetic, the story is moving forward, and they even like the conflict, but they just don’t like the way you wrote it. What they’d really like to do is steal the idea and write it themselves, because honestly, they would do a much better job.”