“Why write in an unlovable genre with an inevitably hectoring tone? Dystopia, situated in a dangerous no-man’s-land between the pulpit of the preacher and the safe sniper post of the satirist.” Future futurists, take note: the New York Review of Books reviews Chang-Rae Lee’s addition to your dystopic shelf, On Such a Full Sea, and ponders the virtues of the dystopic endeavor itself. (Bonus: Lee writes about his own 2013 Year in Reading here at The Millions.)
“Kill ‘Em and Leave is [James] McBride’s own testament to [James] Brown’s philosophy. It’s a stunningly unorthodox book, indifferent to the conventions of biographical nonfiction … The book is a hybrid of forms, largely a telling of Brown’s life story and partly a telling of McBride’s search for that story, with digressions about the author’s own life, essayistic ruminations on Brown and his music, and free, looping riffs that have the energy of improvisation.” On James McBride’s unusual, unorthodox biography of the unusual, unorthodox James Brown.
The Millions is excited to be a founding member of a new ad venture called The Staff Recommends, John Warner and Andrew Womack, both of whom are associated with The Morning News and its wonderful Tournament of Books are behind the effort. The Staff Recommends is unique in that it only features books that “pass muster” with Warner, the venture’s editor and ombudsman. The first selection can be seen at the end of our “Recent Articles” section on The Millions front page and also in the sidebar on article pages. Enjoy!
Recommended Reading: For the writers who make coffee for their day jobs, Lucy Schiller discusses the burden of being happy all the time as a San Francisco barista in “Service with a Smile.” The essay is the first in a weekly series by The Riveter, a magazine spotlighting original longform journalism by women. Pair with Jason Diamond’s essay on being mistaken for a professional barista.
Yesterday, I wrote that I “[had] yet to read a comprehensive debunking” of B.R. Myers. For those still interested, I’ve been directed to some candidates: Meghan O’Rourke (2001), Daniel Green (2007), the Washington City Paper (2010, concerning neocon ideology and the shadowy RAND corporation), and part I of Steven Moore‘s The Novel: An Alternative History.
The Times of India reports on an eerie library mystery: renovations to the 250-year-old National Library in Kolkata have revealed a secret chamber. The sealed 1000 square foot enclosure on the first floor has no windows, trapdoors, or openings of any kind.