“It is early August. A black man is shot by a white policeman. And the effect on the community is of “a lit match in a tin of gasoline.” No, this is not Ferguson, MO.” Laila Lalami reports for NPR on rereading James Baldwin‘s Notes of a Native Son in the context of Ferguson. Pair with Teju Cole‘s essay in The New Yorker about rereading Baldwin’s “Stranger in the Village.”
"How can we represent four hundred years of American literary history in a way that doesn’t reinforce the unfortunate hierarchies of those four hundred years?" Year in Reading alum Rebecca Makkai writes for Electric Literature about the opening of the new American Writers Museum in Chicago and what it means to curate an historical canon of letters. See also: our interview with Makkai from a couple of years back.
How's your NCAA bracket doing? Busted? Well, maybe you should've picked your teams based on which ones turn the highest profit. The Atlantic analyzed the financial data and, voilà, their bracket correctly predicted nine of the teams in the Sweet Sixteen.
Hats off to our own Edan Lepucki for being named a Face to Watch by the LA Times! In an article, David L. Ulin says Edan’s upcoming novel is “steeped in southern California narrative tradition” and describes how a drive along Sunset Boulevard inspired the setting of the book. (You can catch up on Edan's work by looking through her archive.)
We know Ernest Hemingway could drink, but he also could make an excellent burger. At The Paris Review blog, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan cooked up Papa's famous patty. "The burger was delicious: each bit of it oozed a complex and textured umami, earthy and deep," she writes. In other Hemingway news, Harper's will publish a forgotten story, “My Life in the Bull Ring With Donald Ogden," in its October issue, but only because Hemingway's estate wouldn't let Vanity Fair print it. The magazine rejected the story in 1924 and as his son put it, "I’m not a great fan of Vanity Fair. It’s a sort of luxury thinker’s magazine, for people who get their satisfaction out of driving a Jaguar instead of a Mini.”
In general, fact-checking isn’t the most glamorous part of a journalist’s career, which is why Michael Erard was surprised to find that a recent fact-checking session for an Al Jazeera article turned out to be among the most interesting conversations of his life. Why? His sources were linguists, and their job was to explain to him the workings of brand-new sign languages.
“I can’t help but worry that those of us who hoped that the marriage of pop culture and feminism would yield deliciously progressive fruit might have a lot to answer for.” Andi Zeisler on her new book and 20 years of Bitch Magazine. Also check out this Millions essay on feminist pop anthems.