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.
Readers of The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature most likely have a good idea of just how much the late Norman Mailer was a wellspring of jokes about writers. The pugilistic novelist, journalist and failed mayoral candidate did choose to title a collection of his work Advertisements for Myself, after all. Yet as Andrew O’Hagan notes in the LRB, it's hard not to admire the cojones on a guy who once told a prominent editor he was “still too young and too arrogant to care to write the kind of high-grade horseshit you print in Harper’s Bazaar."
New writers need to trust themselves, Marilynne Robinson advises in an interview with Thessaly La Force for VICE. "The idea that you might do something radically brilliant—that assumption is very empowering and it has given the world a lot of really interesting things to look at," she said.
This week, Granta redesigned its website, which now boasts a spiffy black-and-white aesthetic. If you’re looking for an excuse to check it out, you could do worse than reading Year in Reading alum Hari Kunzru’s “Drone,” a story which appears in their India issue. (They’re also highlighting great pieces from their archives, among them the story “Night” by Alice Munro.)
The Facebook IPO was this week's biggest story. The social media giant, which boasts 800 million members, is seeking a $75-$100 billion market valuation. But hold your horses, investors. A lot of that optimism could be empty hype. After all, look at the site's requested valuation as a percentage of its 2011 revenue, and compare it to other tech giants like Google and Microsoft. Also, contrary to Mark Zuckerberg's claim, most of the world does not, in fact, "have access to the internet or mobile phones."
Some criminals in my home town of Calgary, Alberta, were recently picked up in a drug bust. Their drugs, weapons, and cash were all confiscated. But did the cops take away their autographed copy of Crime School: Money Laundering? Full credit: Moby Lives totally scooped us on this thrilling story of criminal readers.