Our love of The Atlantic‘s By Heart series continues with Azar Nafisi‘s contribution to the series: an essay on reading James Baldwin, the importance of literature to democracy, and how ultimately “we need literature to remind us how like each other we are, despite our differences.” Pair with Justin Campbell‘s Millions essay on race, fatherhood and reading Baldwin.
Ahead of next week’s publication of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, the battle over Stieg Larsson’s lucrative literary estate. (Thanks, Craig)
“Ever since, I have added a new layer of rules for my casual sex partners, especially when I end up in their space: I ask them for a book prior to exiting. I might phrase it more diplomatically, saying ‘I just want to read something on my train-ride back,’ or ‘I just finished my last book and I have been looking for the next one.’ Via this simple action I can estimate a lot more on a broad scale of very personal information and variation of taste than what I could possibly collect through hours of post-coital, emotional interrogation.” Seven books Elias Tezapsidis acquired through casual sex.
The Virginia Quarterly Review launched their redesigned website this week, and it’s a sight to behold. To celebrate the occasion, the magazine has dropped its paywall through Valentine’s Day, so start exploring. I recommend starting with Kevin Young’s recent poem, “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” which he composed entirely out of song lyrics.
Hitchens looks back at the Rushdie fatwa and its legacy of censorship.The Feltron 2008 Annual Report“The Governor and the Glove” – an encounter with BlagojovichJoseph O’Neill remembers Updike (via TEV)Ted Leo performs Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark.”The Paleolithic era of online news.TNR reviews Outliers: “It is an axiom of Malcolm Gladwell’s method that a perfect anecdote proves a fatuous rule.“
Most writers, unless they’re lucky enough to have an ideal place in which to work, make do with the best space available. For Colum McCann’s father, the shed in his backyard, which “always smelled damp inside, as if the rain rose up out of the carpet,” sufficed for the fiction he wrote after coming home from work. At Page-Turner, the National Book Award winner and Year in Reading alum remembers his father’s retreat.
Murray Farish‘s debut collection, Inappropriate Behavior, includes tales of fictionalized or alternative history that incline toward the surreal. He discusses the “principally and unaccountably strange” with Evelyn Somers, who has written about his work before, at Bloom. Fancy yourself more weirdness? Head to Weird Fiction Review curated by Jeff VanderMeer, whose Southern Reach trilogy was just released in one volume.