Writing a novel is an all-consuming project, so can you imagine not telling anyone? At The New York Times, Alice Mattison discusses keeping her novels secrets until at least the third draft. “If I talk about the book, I believe — I cannot help believing — my characters will be angry, and will no longer confide in me about their embarrassing, troubled lives.” On another side of the secrecy spectrum, Emma Straub writes about what it’s like to keep a personal secret even as her literary life was booming.
Pamela Paul’s recent New York Times piece on the “permanent reunion” Facebook has trapped us in and an 18-year-old’s op-ed in the New York Post about why the shallow connections of Facebook led him to quit, have me feeling queasy about checking my timeline. So, I’m re-reading Edan Lepucki’s essay about taking a social media detox instead. (Cue the cognitive dissonance of clicking the “like” button next to this entry.)
It was shocking to find that New York Times correspondent Anthony Shadid had died, of an asthma attack of all things, while reporting in Syria, especially when he’s put himself in harm’s way so many other times and emerged unscathed. Tyler Hicks, the Times photographer who was with Shadid when he died and who escorted his body out of Syria was, along with Shadid, among of the four journalists captured and held in Libya less than a year ago in the early days of the uprising there. Shadid’s reporting was brave and essential there and elsewhere. His death comes just weeks before the release of a memoir, House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East.
This week, UC Davis students protesting a tuition increase (among other things) were mercilessly pepper sprayed by their own campus police. In response, Nathan Brown, a non-tenured associate professor of English, has spoken out and called for UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi‘s resignation. In solidarity with Brown’s demand, students silently gathered around Katehi’s office as she exited. For those hoping for further illumination on the entire fiasco, I recommend this list of “Ten Things You Should Know About Friday’s UC Davis Police Violence.” Elsewhere within the UC system, former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass details his harrowing experience at the UC Berkeley protests.