“[H]is authentic education as a reader began not while he was a history major at N.Y.U. or working at a literary agency in Manhattan but at the Green Haven Correctional Facility, in Stormville, New York. There, he offered, he had read a thousand and forty-six books.” Alex Halberstadt writes about “A Prisoner’s Reading List” for The New Yorker. It’s available online, and soon a lot more New Yorker articles will be too.
NYC-area readers are invited to an event this Friday centered on the topic of marketing literature in the age of Gawker. At 7 p.m. I’ll be moderating a panel discussion that includes novelists Fiona Maazel and Tao Lin, literary agent Erin Hosier, and Christopher Kolouris of the website Scallywag & Vagabond. The event, which doubles as a launch party for Canteen magazine’s “Hot Authors” issue, also features two bands, a DJ, and an open bar. More info at 3rd Ward.
“Our culture claims to celebrate vigor and well-being, yet holds up steroid-addled men and impossibly thin women as models of physical perfection. Those of us unwilling to juice or starve ourselves are left feeling inadequate and confused about why we do not bear any resemblance to the humans we are meant to emulate.” Michael Ian Black reviews two books about the male physique — and reveals a bit about the unrealistic nature of our cultural expectations.
“As I got older, the Nigerian scam artist turned into a meme. The ‘Nigerian prince’ became a joke tossed around by white people with the same ease that ‘Italian mobster’ jokes were likely tossed around in the ‘70s—but aided now by the internet. Whenever I came across casual references to my people as scam artists, I’d wince. There was more to us than the scam. Hell—there was even more to the scam.” On how novelist Teju Cole helped Ijeoma Oluo make peace with the Nigerian scam artist.
The Atlantic interviews Erin Gruwell, a teacher whose methods for teaching her students about prejudice became the basis of a book (and subsequent movie) called The Freedom Writers. Named after a group of bus-riding civil rights activists, the students in her classes wrote lengthy journal entries — many of them relating to their own personal traumas — in order to compare them with diaries by historical figures. Writing journals, Gruwell says, helped her students learn to like schoolwork.
The man who designed Brazil’s famous canary-yellow jersey at age 19 won’t wear it–and not out of charming self-effacement. It’s just that “the shirt is not a symbol of Brazilian citizenship. It is a symbol of corruption and the status quo.” And that he happens to support Uruguayan fútbol.