In a time of crisis, any decision is better than no decision at all. That line–credited to Theodore Roosevelt–is pop conventional wisdom. An excellent piece at Aeon explores the full implications of the line, and may just convince you that your next impossible choice should be made by a soothsayer, a lottery, or a flipped coin.
Is it another Beyoncé/Lemonade thinkpiece? Yes. Is it also more than that and worth your time to read? Yes. Terryn Hall at The Rumpus on Beyoncé, Erykah Badu, and being a black woman in the South: “Although Beyoncé is not ‘literary’ in a traditional sense, she’s using her power to usher in new black poetic (Warsan Shire) musical (Ibeyi, Chloe and Halley Bailey) and modeling (Jourdan Dunn, Zendaya) talent in a manner similar to that of the literary patrons of yesteryear.”
Haven’t heard of Teffi? You can blame that one on the Bolsheviks. The early-20th-century Russian poet, playwright and journalist, whose fans included (oddly enough) both Vladimir Lenin and Tsar Nikolai, had to flee a Moscow in turmoil to avoid persecution as a dissident. Now, several publishers are reprinting her memoir of exile, for which The New Statesman has details and a short biography.
We once wondered if Lionel Shriver is America’s best writer, and she once shared with us her love for William Trevor. In an interview with The Atlantic, she talks about not having kids and says the adaptation of We Need to Talk about Kevin “is a far better film than I had any reason to expect them to be able to make.”
It’s not Christmas, but it’s close. It’s time for the Literary Review’s annual Bad Sex Award Shortlist to be released. This year’s finalists include My Education author Susan Choi and famous folk singer Woody Guthrie among others, and the winner(?) will be announced on December 3rd. (Bonus: Their Twitter account is sharing particularly awful excerpts as well.)
Having grown up in Russia, New Republic senior editor Julia Ioffe is in a uniquely good position to cover the Sochi Olympics, which is why she’s writing regular dispatches from this year’s Winter Games. On Saturday, she published a piece about one of the sadder (yet more predictable) developments of the Games: foreign journalists are bombarding gay residents of Sochi with questions and requests for interviews. (She’s also manning the magazine’s Instagram feed.)