Want to reverse a book ban? Start giving away free copies of the novel at your bookstore. Earlier this week, we reported that Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man was taken out of the Randolph County, NC school curriculum. But less than week later, the ban has already been lifted due to intense community backlash and a local bookstore undermining the decision. Board member Matthew Lambeth said, “I felt like I came to a conclusion too quickly.”
Last week, I wrote about the disparity between Norman Rockwell’s inner life and the cheerful art that made the painter famous. In the new issue of The Atlantic, James Parker writes about the “unconscious energy” of Rockwell’s work, while on the magazine’s website, Jennie Rothenberg Gritz republishes an old article that examines how Rockwell’s style could seem outdated even in the fifties.
An exhibition of the authorportraits of Swedish artist Carl Köhler, whose extraordinary portraits of artists and intellectuals we’ve displayed here at The Millions, opens in Toronto on January 11th at the Robarts Library of the University of Toronto, 130 St. George St. For more information call 416-971-3131.
What inspired Wally Lamb’s latest novel, We Are Water? Part of it came from his experience teaching writing at a women’s prison in Connecticut for the past 14 years. He spoke to The Missouri Review about what it’s like to teach “the incarcerated wounded” and how they have influenced his work. “With my fiction, I’ve never been afraid to go to the dark places, but I think the women have made me more daring.”
“What does it even mean to say that I am experiencing my life in a jumpy, random sort of manner? Each instant of my experience is the experience, whatever its temporal relation to other experiences. So long as the memories are consistent, what meaning can be attached to the claim that my life happens in a jumbled sequence?” Physicist Paul Davies on why you can’t remember your future.
“But migraines! Everyone relishes a migraine. They have a literal aura! Migraines foster the sort of pure narcissism that only intense, essentially benign pain can. We sufferers (that’s how it’s described, “migraine sufferer”) feel it is meet and right that the migraine should be dramatized in films like Pi or White Heat; this strengthens the perception that migraines are the hallmark of geniuses, or at least psychopaths. Joan Didion writes about them; of course she does.” Sadie Stein on the allure of the headache to end all headaches.
Over at Paper Darts, Rachel Charlene Lewis argues that editors must be held accountable for the issue of diversity in publishing. As she explains it, “The fun part about focusing instead on the role of editors is that there is an answer—we need more diverse editors, and we need editors who do the work.”
“Writers teach, not writing per se, but how to engage in writing as a process and a means of perception. The actual work of writing is seldom sublime. It’s a struggle that grows more difficult if we avoid it. Writing is often excruciatingly slow and repetitive. Time, in slipping and sliding, makes itself felt and immediate. Words are the way in, but nothing is guaranteed. What writers or readers can do with language, or understand inside it, depends on what they know—on refining their sensibilities, on writing, revising, waiting, reading, writing, as though living in language were life and death.” Year in Reading alumna Jayne Anne Phillips writes for the Literary Hub about the importance of writing programs. For more on the debate, check out Hannah Gersen’s Millions essay.