In 2012, the Portuguese writer José Luís Peixoto, on the occasion of Kim Il-Sung’s 100th birthday, went to North Korea for a fifteen-day trip. The experience led him to write a travel memoir, Inside the Secret, which you can read in serialized form online at Ninth Letter magazine. You could also read Pulitzer laureate Adam Johnson’s new Granta essay about the country.
Regardless of your Valentine’s Day plans, do not take advice from Nate Piven, the protagonist of Adelle Waldman’s The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. Ron Charles asked Waldman to write another scene of Nate’s romantic saga. “He decided it would be best to hedge his bets by getting her something ‘ironic.'”
“After [WWII], the other Finnish artists formed themselves into political groups but Tove wasn’t a joiner; besides, the only political activity she enjoyed was tyrant-baiting. She decided to emigrate to the island kingdom of Tonga but the governor wrote back saying there was a housing shortage and she wouldn’t be welcome. So she created her own Tonga: Moominland.” A new biography looks at the “conflicted life” and creative work of Tove Jansson, whose name has appeared several times here at The Millions.
Rashard Mendenhall is retiring from the Arizona Cardinals in order to write, among other reasons. “The truth is, I don’t really think my walking away is that big of deal. For me it’s saying, ‘Football was pretty cool, but I don’t want to play anymore. I want to travel the world and write!'” Maybe he’ll be published by another retired sports star’s imprint?
“Fifty Shades of Grey follows this long history of class ascendancy via feminine wiles, but does so cleverly disguised as an edgy modern bodice-ripper,” writes Heather Havrilesky in the latest issue of The Baffler. Throughout the piece, Havrilesky explores the way luxury brand fetishism and conspicuous consumption fueled E.L. James’s “female-friendly” pornography phenomenon