Photographer Christopher Jue journeyed with People Who Eat Darkness author Richard Lloyd Parry into the four-story headquarters of the Kudō-kai, a Yakuza group headquartered on the Kyushu island of Japan. “My mental note to myself,” says Jue, “was ‘once I step foot into their property, anything can happen.’”
For whatever reason, the Zippo lighter has earned a place as an icon of Americana, a symbol of everything simple and reliable in the country. At the Ploughshares blog, Nancy McCabein pays a visit to the Zippo Museum, punctuating her account with quotes from works of literature that feature the lighter.
"The story that Lee’s book tells (or tries to tell, because much evidence has been obscured or lost) is not about patience on a monument but about talent buried under a heavy plinth, and discovered only just in time—the late achievement less a measured distillation than a lifesaving decoction." James Wood reviews Hermione Lee's new biography of novelist Penelope Fitzgerald for The New Yorker. Pair with Niamh Ni Mhaoileoin's Millions essay on the new age of biography.
"Their relative obscurity is what makes their fans so passionate — these are voices that never quite found the right audience when they were alive." Longreads has a reading list of forgotten women writers, including Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Jessie Redmon Fauset, and Anita Brookner, whom we profiled in our own pages last year.
"It’s corrosive going down, you wonder if he had to add quite so much vinegar and horseradish, but afterward the effect is invigorating." Aaron Thier at The Nation reviews Rafael Chirbes' newest novel, On The Edge. The book admittedly gives no pleasure, yet is nonetheless worth reading as it operates like more of a "psychological health tonic," instead.
The Science Genius Initiative is a pilot project organized by Rap Genius, science teachers from ten New York City public schools, and GZA. Together, the group hopes “to change the way city teachers relate to minority students, drawing not just on hip-hop’s rhymes, but also on its social practices and values.” Indeed, as the Wu-Tang Clan emcee – who’s been working with Neil DeGrasse Tyson and MIT physicists for his new album – believes science is worth studying because it “unlocks the key to the universe, and the mysteries we don’t know.”