“Riordan’s books prompt an uneasy interrogation of the premise underlying the ‘so long as they’re reading’ side of the debate—at least among those of us who want to share Neil Gaiman’s optimistic view that all reading is good reading, and yet find ourselves by disposition closer to the Tim Parks end of the spectrum, worried that those books on our children’s shelves that offer easy gratification are crowding out the different pleasures that may be offered by less grabby volumes.” In an essay for The New Yorker, Rebecca Mead considers questions about what children should be reading through the lens of the Percy Jackson series.
With sessions beginning this month, "The Dzanc Sessions are designed for writers who are ready to amplify, polish, and advance their writing. An eclectic platform of craft-based workshops are offered in a series of online sessions throughout the year, with specializations in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and screenwriting." Signing up earns you a free print book or access to their eBook club.
Adding to the general hand-wringing over the state of the humanities, Lee Siegel contradicts Leon Wieseltier’s lament that fewer college students are majoring in literature by contending that modern literature courses ruin the joy of reading. “For every college professor who made Shakespeare or Lawrence come alive for the lucky few,” he writes, “there were countless others who made the reading of literary masterpieces seem like two hours in the periodontist's chair.” (You can also read a similar argument from a humanities professor in The New Republic.)
Over at McSweeney’s, Sarah Solomon has undertaken the Sisyphean task of bringing existentialism into the twenty-first century. In a series of brief vignettes, Solomon gives the oft-maligned Millennial generation the existentialist makeover they never asked for. Continue your study of the absolute indifference of the universe with this essay by Zach Pontz on The Meursault Investigation, a new novel by Algerian journalist Kamel Daoud that imagines Albert Camus’s famous The Stranger from the perspective of the unnamed Arab antagonists.
When Pleasanton mom Siah Fried and her co-author wrote Tales from Swankville, a book about hyper-competitive parenting in suburbia, they didn't expect their neighbors to take it so personally.
“For a woman to be a flâneuse, first and foremost, she’s got to be a walker – someone who gets to know the city by wandering its streets, investigating its dark corners, peering behind façades, penetrating into secret courtyards. Virginia Woolf called it ‘street haunting’ in an essay by that name: sailing out into a winter evening, surrounded by the ‘champagne brightness of the air and the sociability of the streets,’ we leave the things that define us at home, and become ‘part of that vast republican army of anonymous trampers.’” On the female flâneur. Also check out this Millions essay about the flâneur in modern fiction.