Who invented ska music? John Jeremiah Sullivan traces the history of the genre in his latest essay for The Oxford American. “The more the claims for Rosco Gordon’s supremacy as a ska progenitor seem not out of proportion, and the less crazy it feels to say that, in a sense, ska was born in Tennessee.” Pair with: Sullivan’s essay on Bunny Wailer, who makes a cameo in his ska essay.
"They are both popular and literary and seem to have no problem standing with a foot in each category." For The Paris Review, our own Adam O’Fallon Price writes about the "unambiguous sophistication" of Curtis Sittenfeld's writing—which is often regulated to the world of "chick lit"—and her new short story collection, You Think It, I'll Say It. (Read our interview with Sittenfeld.)
It’s an age-old question for writers and thinkers: how do you quiet the noise of your thoughts? In Aeon Magazine, Tim Parks wonders if it’s even possible to silence internal monologues -- and, if it is, whether that silence means losing sight of our identities. (Related: our own Mark O'Connell reviewed Parks's latest book.)
For Angelenos: Elif Batuman will be reading from The Possessed tonight at 7:00 at the LAPL Central Library. A conversation with LA Times Books Editor David Ulin follows the reading. More information and reservations here (tickets are free).
"Shelley once called poets the 'unacknowledged legislators of the world,'" but has the social role of poetry changed since Shelley's time?