“Desire is transformative, and transgressive: whether it’s an unpeeled onion or a noble lover, to want something, especially for women, can never be entirely benign.” Kristiana Willsey writes about folktales, fairy godmothers, childless queens and hunger in a piece for The Toast.
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.
Recommended reading: Pankaj Mishra and Benjamin Moser debate the continued possibility and relevance of Ezra Pound‘s “Make it New” for The New York Times Books Bookends.
In the late seventies, when Susan Sontag was recovering from cancer, she hired an assistant to help her catch up on correspondence. Her editor recommended Sigrid Nunez, who began working for Sontag and ended up moving in with her. Nunez now recalls the experience with a mixture of gratitude and pain. In Dissent, a look at the economy of creative assistants.
This week, UC Davis students protesting a tuition increase (among other things) were mercilessly pepper sprayed by their own campus police. In response, Nathan Brown, a non-tenured associate professor of English, has spoken out and called for UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi‘s resignation. In solidarity with Brown’s demand, students silently gathered around Katehi’s office as she exited. For those hoping for further illumination on the entire fiasco, I recommend this list of “Ten Things You Should Know About Friday’s UC Davis Police Violence.” Elsewhere within the UC system, former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass details his harrowing experience at the UC Berkeley protests.
For whatever reason, the Zippo lighter has earned a place as an icon of Americana, a symbol of everything simple and reliable in the country. At the Ploughshares blog, Nancy McCabein pays a visit to the Zippo Museum, punctuating her account with quotes from works of literature that feature the lighter.