Writing for n+1’s City by City series, Moira Donegan remarks on the “self-defeating contradictions” of working at a nonprofit in New Orleans. It’s a town, she writes, where most arrive to either “perform charity or to party,” and where, she feels, “many of the people who … come to help the city [are] also hurting it.” In certain ways, the piece can be read as being in conversation with Duncan Murrell’s 2012 essay for Oxford American about authenticity, preservation, posterity, and the Big Easy.
Have you taken advantage of NYRB Classics’ Winter Sale yet? A whole bunch of their books are listed with 50% discounts! Why not check out The Radiance of the King, which was recommended this past Year in Reading by Deborah Eisenberg? (And also recommended by Junot Díaz back in our 2007 edition of the series, too.)
In the mid-aughts, Jonathan Gottschall pioneered “literary Darwinism,” a new form of analysis which applied evolutionary theory to works of literature. It was part of a wider upheaval in English departments across the country. Now, more than ten years later, we can make an assessment: how’d it work out for Gottschall? The answer: not well. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)
Alexandra Kleeman’s debut novel includes, among other discomfiting things, a series of fake advertisements for surreal women’s beauty products. The plot, which follows a proofreader named A, begins with the main character’s attempt to evade her roommate, and eventually brings A to join a “Church of Conjoined Eaters.” At Slate, Molly Fischer argues the book deftly captures our society’s weird treatment of femininity.
“But was I actually reading? I regarded myself as a reader, but were these really books?” In LitHub, James Tate Hill pens an essay about reading while visually impaired and the questions it raises in a print book obsessed world. Pair with: our own Bill Morris on hearing an actor narrate his novel’s audiobook.
“Whatever the [Fulbright] program became,” writes Boston Globe correspondent Sam Lebovic, “it was first conceived as a budget-priced megaphone to transmit American ideas to the world, rather than as a genuine international dialogue.” Indeed, one 1940s newspaper columnist dubbed the program “an ingenious piece of higher mathematics…[that] found a way to finance out of the sale of war junk a worldwide system of American scholarships.”