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.
"American television has been a juvenile medium for most of its existence," David Simon tells Salon. This defense of 'Treme' was published three days after David Thier called the show "deeply boring" in The Atlantic. "There is nothing New Orleans loves so much as New Orleans" Thier says, "but the show can't get past the desire to be authentic." Sarah Broom, during last May's PEN World Voices Festival, said "this 'love of place' is really just from people who are stuck in a lots of ways." But hey, at least the show's attention to detail is admirable.
Out this week: The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder; Burning Down the House by Jane Mendelsohn; Stork Mountain by Miroslav Penkov; Shelter by Jung Yun; Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton; and The North Water by Ian McGuire. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
Want to publish anonymously (and then stay that way)? Be thankful you're not friends with Charles Dickens.
"The Dares. We’d been at them all summer: making each other do stuff, alone or together, just for the fun of it. Girls like us, with high GPAs and not a single boy looking our way, needed a little danger to get us through the summer." Our own Edan Lepucki has a short story, "Ambulance of Boys," on Storychord.com.
Authors, including Jennifer Egan, George Saunders, Ali Smith, and our own Chigozie Obioma, chose their Best Books of 2017 in a two-part series for The Guardian. If you enjoyed that list, make sure to check out our Year in Reading: 2017 series all throughout December.
Ever since Paul Thomas Anderson announced his intention to film Inherent Vice, there’s been a lot of hand-wringing over whether it’s even possible to adapt a Thomas Pynchon book for the screen. Now that it’s out, Geoffrey O’Brien investigates how faithful the movie is to the book, and whether or not that’s a good thing. Related: our own Garth Risk Hallberg’s review of the book when it came out.