“Classroom lessons may slip quickly through students’ fingers, but the classroom experience lingers in memory. Each teacher offers students a different model of authority and justice. We set our own standards of fairness and sometimes fail to honor them. A teacher swings a heavy club, and we can leave big, purple bruises if we’re not careful.” Ben Orlin writes for The Atlantic about becoming an unfair teacher and then resolving to improve. For more thoughts about teaching, be sure to check out our own Nick Ripatrazone‘s “55 Thoughts for English Teachers.“
J. K. Rowling will receive the PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award “for her efforts to fight inequality and censorship”. Rowling joins the likes of Salman Rushdie, Toni Morrison, and Tom Stoppard. Our own Garth Risk Hallberg reflects on the magic of the Harry Potter series with librarian Cynthia Oakes.
"In one of his last columns, published in March 1966, Flann O’Brien looked back on his catechism, compiled more than twenty years earlier, and described it as ‘an exegetic survey of the English language in its extremity of logo-daedalate poliomyelitis, anaemic prostration and the paralysis of incoherence.’ One month after writing that, he was dead, and yet within a year a remarkable renaissance was taking place, with the long-delayed publication of his great comic fantasy The Third Policeman and, soon afterwards, the first of many anthologies of the ‘Cruiskeen Lawn’ columns, this one entitled The Best of Myles.” (Related: our own Mark O’Connell on the humor in O’Brien’s work.)
"Still, what he captured with genius was the ontological unease of a world in which the human and the abhuman, the real and the fake, blur together." An essay in the Boston Review argues the importance of Philip K. Dick's literature— where the real and fake intersect and collide — and the world we live in today. From our archive: on the pleasures of Dick's sometimes awful prose.
“I just didn’t see the textual evidence for it. If Mark Twain wanted to make somebody black, he would make them black. He was not shy about dealing with matters of race.” For The New Yorker, Mythili G. Rao on the complicated backstory to the upcoming publication of The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, a “new” children's book by Mark Twain. See also: our consideration of Twain's self-deprecating travelogue The Innocents Abroad.
Mama Hope, a group that works with local African organizations "to connect them with the resources required to transform their own communities," has released a great promo featuring four young men who are tired of Hollywood's African stereotypes. Their complaints are reminiscent of those enumerated in Binyavanga Wainaina's classic essay "How to Write about Africa," and also in Laura Seay's great article from last week, "How Not to Write About Africa."