Despite the “grotesquerie of courtship rituals” they present, Roxane Gay enjoys watching The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, in part because, as she explains, they hearken back to America’s Puritan origins. In The New York Times, the essayist, novelist and Year in Reading alum reflects on a guilty pleasure.
Mexican poet Javier Sicilia founded the Movement for Peace With Justice and Dignity as a means of combating the horrific slew of drug-related murders plaguing his country. As he explains in this translated letter to Mexico’s government, his cause is personally motivated.
“‘Moby Dick is one of my favorite books, but let’s face it — it’s a hot mess,’ says Evison. ‘If I had software that said, ‘Look, maybe this four-page essay on scrimshaw isn’t gonna fly with your 28 to 40 male [demographic],’ what would we have lost with that? Sometimes, you know, it’s just got to be a little bit of a dictatorship.'” When e-readers and marketing tactics collide.
If novels are written to remind us of our mistakes and we keep repeating those mistakes, why read novels at all?, asks Alberto Manguel. Richard Lea discusses authors’ views on the relationship between the novel and memory at The International Forum on the Novel.
“The worst insult people hurl at adoptees is that they are ‘ungrateful’ and should ‘go back’ (to their ‘own’ countries, to their old families). That is the moment when adoption becomes a gift—because that is the moment when it becomes clear that adoption belongs to people like the adoptive parent and not people like the adoptee. We shouldn’t want our birth families, our birth cultures. We should be thankful for being taken from the mothers who bore us. This idea of gratitude can ruin thankfulness. Why should we be grateful?” Matthew Salesses writes about gratitude and luck as an adoptee, over at The Toast. You could also check out Salesses’s Millions essay on novel writing, inciting incidents, adoption, and beginnings.
Julia Child fans may enjoy a new collection of her correspondence with her friend and “unofficial literary agent” Avis DeVoto. The letters follow Child through her life overseas. Also out now is a snazzy new Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray with a cover illustrated by Ruben Toledo.