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.
Boston Review’s Aura Estrada Short Story Contest is underway. This year’s submissions will be judged by What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank author (as well as Year in Reading contributor) Nathan Englander, and the victor will earn a $1,500 prize as well as publication.
“Dear Marlon, I’m praying that you’ll buy ON THE ROAD and make a movie of it….You play Dean and I’ll play Sal… I’ll show you how Dean acts in real life, you couldnt possibly imagine it without seeing a good imitation…” From a letter from Jack Kerouac to Marlon Brando. (via The Rumpus)
“If you can get some brilliant artists to make a musical about your childhood, I highly recommend it. It’s very cathartic.” Recent MacArthur fellow Alison Bechdel‘s hugely successful graphic memoir, Fun Home, has been adapted into a Broadway musical, and now she’s written a coda to the book that looks at what the musical has meant to her and what it could have meant to her parents. Pair with our interview with Bechdel here.
“A trip to the 21st century. Prague, maybe, or London, some big city where he can wander around being a bored tourist, snapping his gum, picking his nose in cathedrals, snapback on crooked and hopping from foot to foot, looking for a basketball court.” Thats what it would look like if Achilles (and other sad literary characters) got the holidays they deserved.