Somewhere along the way, the word “cool” became “the most popular slang term of approval in English.” Humanities has a pretty cool (hip, rad, dope, groovy, punk, hot, sweet) theory, tracing it as far back as Zora Neale Hurston’s collection Mules and Men, and the time when “cool was black… cool was jazz.” (Related reading: the most excellent Hepster’s Dictionary (pdf) of 1939 jive talk, and our own history of the slang word “like.”)
Last Friday, the writer Emily Rapp’s three-year-old son Ronan passed away from Tay-Sachs disease. Because Emily is part of the greater Rumpus family, the site is honoring Ronan’s memory by publishing a tribute by her friend Jennifer Pastiloff. They’re also encouraging people to help fight Tay-Sachs disease here.
Nathaniel Rich, who seems to have endured his 47-hour train trip without descending into madness, describes one of his favorite historical attractions in New Orleans: the Pharmacy Museum. “There are few things in life more terrifying than antiquated medical devices,” he writes.
Sure, the various TV recaps, screencaps, and Paris Review fan fiction will be a help, but let’s be honest, how long will those last? You could get through all of it today, in a binge. What you need, my friend, is a good book to sate that Mad Men craving you’ll be having now that it’s off the air again. Well, here’s a list of 10 great ones. That should do it. Oh, yes.
David Gessner thinks Wallace Stegner and Edward Abbey are more relevant than they’ve ever been. Why? Their stories about the West anticipated the California drought. At Salon, Gessner explains why, among other things, Stegner spent much of his life debunking Western individualism.
“Psycho glories in narrative fractures and perverse behavior; it subverts the expectations of an audience already habituated to Hitchcockian suspense by pushing even further, masterfully administering a dose of sheer shock. Hitchcock, on the other hand, struggles to arouse even suspense.” How to watch a film about the master of film.
Recommended (Revolutionary) Reading: On why Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics remains so relevant to today’s most heated literary arguments, despite its being nearly fifty years old at this point.
“One reason presidents are drawn to the genre is surely its escapism — its promise to replace impossible decisions with comforting formulas.” For The New York Times, Craig Fehrman writes about United States presidents who have a predilection for mystery novels. If you need your mystery fix too, we have a list with five crime books with female detectives.