New releases this week include The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood, a limited edition of Stephen King’s illustrated poem The Dark Man and The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vásquez, which we covered as part of our Great Second-Half 2013 Book Preview. Now available in paperback is Alice Munro’s Dear Life.
If you run into trouble in Iceland, blame the elves. 54.4 percent of Icelanders believe in the invisible creatures, and elves cause environmental protest today. “Beliefs in misfortune befalling those who dare to build in elf territory is so widespread and frequent that the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration has created a five-page ‘standard reply’ for press inquiries about elves,” Ryan Jacobs writes for The Atlantic. Pair with: our essay on Icelandic writer Sjón.
College football season is upon us, and I’d be remiss not to highlight the recent flood of fantastic writing on my favorite televised sport. Most striking is Pulitzer Prize-winner Taylor Branch‘s Atlantic article “The Shame of College Sports.” It’s accompanied by several other takes on the issue. In regards to academia, this New York Times piece on the University of Chicago’s football team demonstrates that tension between educators and football fans is nothing new. (A sentiment the paper illustrated in a 2006 piece on Ivy League football.) However, as Gregg Easterbrook notes, major football programs can also demonstrate success in the classroom as well. Finally, and on a purely emotional level, I will always seize any opportunity to share this fantastic ESPN story by Eric Adelson.
“‘I want to meet POETS,’ I typed. Beneath my earnest headline, I described how I yearned for a workshop buddy who wrote contemporary verse, someone who wasn’t afraid to give and accept feedback. I also asked for a sample poem, just to weed out the people I didn’t jive with stylistically.” On forging friendships with poets from Denise K. James at The Rumpus.
In an effort to diversify the comics industry, Marvel’s latest superhero isn’t another white man in a cape but a teenage Muslim girl living in Jersey City. Kamala Khan, alias Ms. Marvel, can change shape and will fight villains and her parents’ expectations when the series debuts in February. Pair with: Matt Madden’s history of American comics in six panels.
Recommended reading: “One of the drillers fell to his knees. Some sobbed, in the way men do when their mothers die, or when their sons are born.” An exceptional and deeply moving long-form essay in the New Yorker recounting the 69 days spent underground by the famed ’33’ Chilean miners buried in the 2010 accident at Copiapó.
The recent passing of Christopher Hitchens has led to numerous praiseful eulogies. Many have been (and he would’ve hated this…) hagiographic. Now, in an article for The Nation, Katha Pollitt seeks to “complicate the picture … at the risk of seeming churlish” to allege that the man “had virtually no interest in women’s writing or women’s lives or perspectives.”