“How could we possibly trust any creature that comes into the world wearing such a caul of ambiguity? That’s “essayists.” Four hundred and four years later, they continue to flourish.” John Jeremiah Sullivan offers a loose history of the essay, essayists, and all their many contradictions in a piece for The New Yorker.
If you’ve ever had a successful friend you secretly envied and maybe even hated, you may be in startlingly good company: a new reading of an old letter between Groucho Marx and T.S. Eliot indicates that the “flamboyant misanthrope and the restrained one” shared exactly this kind of frenemyship. Unrelated: a short recording of Eliot reading “The Naming of Cats.”
Don’t worry, everybody — Anita Thompson, widow of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, has finally returned the prized pair of antlers that Thompson stole from the Idaho home of Ernest Hemingway, himself. The antlers, which he stole while in Idaho on assignment reporting on Hemingway’s suicide, had hung in Thompson’s garage for the past fifty-four years.
It’s two weeks past Mardi Gras, so you’re probably ready to revisit New Orleans by now. Good timing. Narrative.ly has a week’s worth of stories on the Big Easy, entitled “Beyond Bourbon Street.” (Related: I recommend reading Tulane’s Richard Campanella’s recent piece for Design Observer: “Hating Bourbon Street.”)
2011 is the year of television’s oral history. On the heels of Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, published last May and reviewed by n+1 here, you can now check out I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution. You can whet your appetite with an excerpt here. If television’s not your thing, you can also check out New York Magazine‘s oral history of the Upright Citizens Brigade, and of the founding of Ms. magazine.