It’s not every day that you come across a defense of literary elitism, but The Guardian’s Nicholas Lezard is tired of explaining that not everyone is a critic. “What I want when I read a book review is to find out what someone cleverer than me and better read than me thinks about whatever’s being reviewed,” he writes.
Wallace Shawn has written a new play, and it's unsettling to watch. In it, a group of wealthy, middle-aged party hosts reveal their roles in a dystopian future, where political murders, random beatings and censorship are all commonplace. In an essay for The New York Review of Books, Francine Prose reviews the play in the context of Shawn's other works.
Congratulations to the five young writers named to the inaugural class of the National Student Poets Program. Louisa Banchoff (17), Miles Hewitt (17), Claire Lee (16), Natalie Richardson (17) and Lylia Younes (17) were appointed by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, and they will serve as “literary ambassadors” for the next year.
Jeff Chang, whose Can't Stop Wont Stop I just can't recommend enough for anyone interested in the history of hip hop, has a great piece in the LARB on rap music and the 1992 LA Riots. The LA Times also ran a compelling essay on Toddy Tee, N.W.A. and other prescient west coast MCs, the forefathers of what became commercial gangsta rap.
The Facebook IPO was this week's biggest story. The social media giant, which boasts 800 million members, is seeking a $75-$100 billion market valuation. But hold your horses, investors. A lot of that optimism could be empty hype. After all, look at the site's requested valuation as a percentage of its 2011 revenue, and compare it to other tech giants like Google and Microsoft. Also, contrary to Mark Zuckerberg's claim, most of the world does not, in fact, "have access to the internet or mobile phones."