No one is unique; we all share names, but what if you met everyone who had the same name as you? At The Morning News, Jennifer Berman reached out to her doppelgängers. “I’ve thought about writing her. But what would I say? I’m Jennifer Berman, too?”
Has Edward St. Aubyn killed the existentialist novel? Jacob Kiernan at Full Stop Magazine has a few ideas about it. If it’s existential quandary you’re after, this essay for The Millions on the beautiful afterlife of books–which may not be so much of an afterlife, after all–will be perfect for you.
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.
Ed Champion interviews the FTC’s Richard Cleland in an effort to bring some clarity to the new FTC disclosure rules targeting “bloggers.” If this interview is any indication, the rules are imprecise and based on a false distinction, at best. For what it’s worth, I’ll happily disclose that we do get sent books for review from publishers, and the ways The Millions makes money are outlined on our (new and improved) Support page.
“The older I get, the more my own boundaries seem to be fading, which is terrifying and fascinating in equal measure.” For The Paris Review, Lucie Shelly interviewed Lauren Groff about nature, spirituality, and her newest collection, Florida. (Our review called the collection “startling and precious.”)
“Young black fiction writers in the U.S. often face a strange obstacle as they try to figure out who they are — it’s called American literature. A high number of pre-civil-rights-era novels by white American writers are likely to include tossed-off racial slurs and/or stock black characters, some of which make racially conscious readers want to hurl the book across the room, even if the wooly-headed pickaninnies are only peeking around a doorjamb on one page out of 400. There are exceptions, but shockingly few. You always have to brace yourself — always.” James Hannaham writes about growing up in Yonkers but finding himself in Southern literature.