Recommended Viewing: Robert Bly reads his poem, “The Dead Seal at McClure’s Beach.”
Out this week: Five-Carat Soul by James McBride; Unforgivable Love by Sophfronia Scott; Brother by David Chariandy; The Second Sister by Claire Kendal; and Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
“Some psychiatrists say that music has therapeutic powers and can even restore fluidity and mental structure for a moment in some patients – music is the opposite of chaos. It may be that heavy metal, the music his parents blamed in part for this entire catastrophe, is the only thing that gives order to my cousin’s worn-out brain. No one knows, except him.” On trying to seek refuge from schizophrenia in heavy metal.
At Bookforum, Alexander Benaim reads the latest novel by Jess Row, which I wrote about as part of our most recent book preview. The novel poses a charged, intriguing question: what would happen if it were possible to change your race? (It might also be a good time to read the author’s Year in Reading entry along with our own Mark O'Connell's review of the novel at Slate.)
In 1932, several black Americans – including Langston Hughes – traveled to the Soviet Union to shoot a propaganda film about the “evils of racism in the United States.” One of those travelers, Lloyd Patterson, would never return. Instead, Patterson married an Ukrainian woman, and the pair had two children. The firstborn, Jim Patterson, was at one time the most famous black resident of the USSR – and his appearance in The Circus even drew the admiration of Joseph Stalin. After World War II, Patterson served as a Soviet naval officer aboard a submarine in the Black Sea. From there he went on to the Soviet Writers Union in 1967. If you think this sounds far-fetched, I encourage you to read more here.