Growing up in California, our own Michael Bourne didn’t have a full sense of his own privilege until 1981, when a chance encounter with a group of teenagers dressed up as skeletons woke him up to the realities of segregation in America. In a long essay for Orange Coast Review, he goes over the meaning of that incident, complete with meditations on Marin County, his abandoned early novel and his family’s history in Danville, Virginia. Pair with: Michael’s piece for The Millions on Tess Taylor’s The Forage House.
“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.
Cat Marnell and Alana Massey both have new books out, and they are, in their own ways, variants on the genre of “confessional” writing. In an essay for Slate, Katy Waldman unpacks their essential appeal and their arguments, describing how each goes about the task of reinventing the concept of the memoir. You could also read our interview with Massey.
Curious to know what the new Most Irritating Word is? Not many people agree on the number one offender, but for a while a top choice was “literally,” which evolved so much over the past few decades that the Oxford English Dictionary revised its official definition. At Slate, Katy Waldman proposed that we give the title to “amazeballs.” Now, in The New Republic, Judith Shulevitz makes the case for “disruptive,” the scourge of the tech world.