In her short history of executioners, Stassa Edwards notes that the decision to replace “the traditional punishment” of drowning people “in a sack in a local river” was actually quite pragmatic: it was “more economical” to go with a simple beheading.
The Atavist has been killing it lately. Last month, I was riveted by Joshuah Bearman's outrageous (and completely true) story of one Brit's attempt to bring a "Baghdad Country Club" to the city's Green Zone. This month, "Mother, Stranger," Cris Beam's account of her abusive mother--a distant relative of William Faulkner--had me on the verge of tears.
Look, we get it. You're as sad as the rest of us that Frank Ocean's new album didn't actually drop on Friday. Luckily, there's a fantastic essay over at The Atlantic which examines Ocean in the context of Harper Lee and the myth of the reclusive artist: "Channel Orange, like Mockingbird, is an unapologetic masterpiece for people defining themselves at the intersection of lived experience and possibility."
Proclaiming the death of the book has been in vogue nearly as long as the book itself. Leah Price presents a short history of our pessimism for the future of the written word.
How’s your bracket doing? Upsets abound not only on the hardwood but also in The Morning News’s Tournament of Books. Celebrate your victory over lesser bracketologists (or, alternately, mourn your defeat against the onslaught of superior bracketologists) with this compendium of basketball poetry compiled by the folks at the Poetry Foundation.
New this week: Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue; The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis; The Outside Lands by Hannah Kohler; I'm Still Here by Clelie Avit; and Blood in the Water by Heather Ann Thompson. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview.