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.
American Short Fiction’s managing editor Jess Stoner is reading local newspapers from one state a week and reporting on the big headlines in a better attempt to understand America. As she puts it, “Not to snark, not to make fun of people from unincorporated towns who write letters to the editor, but to share with you a more complicated, less yell-y look at where we are, with the hopes of better understanding where we might be headed.” The first state is Alabama.
“Located along a private beach on 235 Middle Neck Road, this opulent Gatsby-inspiring estate spans over 5 acres. A mere 25 minutes away from New York City by boat, this home is the perfect scene for a roaring 20s party. Just picture the glitz and glamour of fireworks reflecting across the water at all hours of the night.” For a cool $16.9 million you, too, can live in the home that inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald. Pair with our own Sonya Chung on adding The Great Gatsby to her teaching syllabus.
“John Milton—poet, free speech advocate, civil servant, classics scholar—was arguably a forefather to Asimov, Bradbury, Delaney, and the rest. Their outlandish other worlds owe a debt to his visionary mode of storytelling; their romance—characters who go on quests, encounter adversaries at portals, channel the forces of light and dark—is his, too.” Over at Slate, Katy Waldman makes the argument for Milton as sci-fi author. Pair with our discussion of his epic Paradise Lost as part of this piece about difficult books.
“It helps to be nobody if you want to be somebody.” Over at The Daily Beast, Ted Gioia takes a look at what he calls the new cult of the anonymous artist. From the famously infamous graffiti artist Banksy to the enigmatic Italian novelist Elena Ferrante, there is certainly no denying that, whatever the reason, anonymity is “in.” Here’s an older Millions essay that takes a look at Banksy, obsession, and the sea.
Steel your nerve, readers! Kim Liao at The Literary Hub thinks that everyone should shoot for at least 100 rejections per year. At least some of the satisfaction, she argues, lies in knowing that “in the towering waves of slush, be it high tide or low tide, my own modest submission is out there, like a tiny sailboat, bobbing afloat.”