“There’s much to be commended in the work done by FiveThirtyEight, or even Vox,” writes Millions contributor Brian Ted Jones. “But making problems seem smaller then they are is a harm that outweighs all the good.” He goes on to tie together the rise of “explainer” sites, the problem with “hashtag activism,” and also references to Louis C.K., Teju Cole, and Leslie Jamison.
Recommended Reading: J. M. Tyree’s new story at Guernica. “There’s a man on the bus sitting directly in front of you. He has a small brown spider crawling across his red shirt, near his left shoulder blade.” You could also watch our episode of The Book Report on Our Secret Life in the Movies by Tyree and Michael McGriff.
New this week is Marilynne Robinson's collection of essays When I Was a Child I Read Books. Also out are Arcadia by Lauren Groff, The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits, and The Reconstructionist by Nick Arvin. Finally, the collected writings of the late and beloved critic John Leonard, Reading for My Life, is now out.
If you're in need of a great read this week, you'll be glad to know that Byliner has compiled a list of 101 spectacular nonfiction stories from 2011. They run the gamut from investigative to personal to borderline trivial: There's Mac McClelland's incredibly daring and disturbing essay on working through PTSD through controlled sexual violence, alongside Jon Mooallem's history of the high five. Happy reading!
“I’m always trying to get my friends to forward me emails they’ve sent to other people – to their mom, their boyfriend, their agent – the more mundane the better,” writes Miranda July in the treatment for her latest project, We Think Alone, which counts Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Etgar Keret, and Kirsten Dunst among its participants. “How they comport themselves in email is so intimate, almost obscene — a glimpse of them from their own point of view.”