To give context to a new William Vollmann essay about reading his own FBI profile (available to subscribers only, sadly), Harper’s Magazine published a few pages from Vollmann’s file online. Among other things, they reveal that the FBI considered Vollman “exceedingly intelligent and possessed with an enormous ego.” (For a taste of the Harper’s essay, you can read this WaPo article on Vollmann’s connection to the Unabomber.)
A Mississippi school district has decided to pull Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird from its junior-high reading list because it "makes people uncomfortable." The novel, which frequently tops the American Library Association's "Frequently Challenged Book" list, tackles racism. See also: an essay on the symbolism of mockingbirds.
"In this here place, we flesh; … Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don’t love your eyes; they’d just as soon pick em out. No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it." Toni Morrison's Beloved as featured in a powerful essay by Allyson Hobbs for The Root about black life, Philando Castile, "and the trauma that remains." See also: a consideration of parallels between Morrison's Pulitzer Prize-winning epic and The Odyssey.
"In order to overcome their creative challenges, the authors I interviewed didn’t need to write prettier sentences: They needed to become more disciplined, more generous, braver. Literature seems to require these qualities of us, somehow, both in writing and in reading." Joe Fassler's "By Heart" series at The Atlantic provides us with another year's worth of writing wisdom, including advice from Alexander Chee, Michael Chabon, Lydia Millet, et al. We also highly recommend the conversation between Chee, Emily Barton, and Whitney Terrell about the decade each of them took to see their novels realized in the world.
This blog post from the NYT Magazine's culture editor Adam Sternbergh rounds up some some well known lit lovers' suggestions for some of those of you looking for some "red hot summer trash" to add to your reading list. Maud Newton and our own Garth Risk Hallberg both recommended Lonesome Dove, so that's going on my reading list for sure.
The movie adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time premiered this week. Before or after you see the movie (there are some spoilers if you haven't seen it or read the book) read this essay by Alanna Bennett on the simple, but revolutionary power of the story and Ava DuVernay's book-to-screen vision.