Recommended reading: Wilson Quarterly’s thoughtful meditation on Tiananmen Square, 25 years later.
Need some more Jeanette Winterson in your life? The New Statesman is here with a short story. Titled “Gnomon,” it centers on a medieval blacksmith, Stephen, who’s asked to create his town’s first mechanical clock. Sample quote: “Time is irregular. One hour is not the same length as another.”
Speaking to Parul Sehgal, recent Booker and National Book Award finalist Jhumpa Lahiri confesses that in order to write, she must begin from “a place where I feel—and need to feel—completely alone and anonymous.” The Lowland author elaborates that the act of writing is “such an intimate thing; I can’t do it in front of other people. It’s a rich dimension in one’s head – to access it, the noise has to be shut off. And there is a lot of noise in the world.”
Here’s some rare footage of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera hanging out with Leon Trotsky and Natalia Sedova in 1938. Here’s an awesome quote from Kahlo: “I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows, but now the damned things have learned to swim.” And finally, here’s a picture of Frida that’s even more awesome than both of those things.
The 113th anniversary of Thomas Wolfe’s birthday was last Thursday, but the author lives on in America’s cultural memory thanks to the title of his 1940 novel, You Can’t Go Home Again. Unfortunately, the titular phrase seems to be taken at face value by many people these days, and that can lead to some groan-worthy invocations. A newly-minted Tumblr blog illustrates the point.
In response to Natasha Vargas-Cooper’s argument that we should end high-school reading lists, our own Nick Ripatrazone defended reading lists here at The Millions. Now, on New Hampshire Public Radio, the two take the debate to the airwaves. (Bonus: Year in Reading alum Sam Lipsyte makes a cameo.)
Last week, we discussed how Teju Cole has mastered literary Twitter, and that was before we knew that he tweeted a 4,000-word essay on immigration. "A Piece of the Wall" is composed of 250 tweets written during a seven-hour period and starts with: "I hear the sound of faint bells in the distance. It is like a sound in a dream, or the jingling at the beginning of a Christmas song."