“Why should Serena not respond to racism? In whose world should it be answered with good manners? The notable difference between black excellence and white excellence is white excellence is achieved without having to battle racism. Imagine.” Claudia Rankine writes for The New York Times Magazine about tennis player Serena Williams, racism in sports, and white privilege. Pair with our own Michael Bourne’s list of books that “shed light on the history and evolution of racism in America.”
Out this week: The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder; Burning Down the House by Jane Mendelsohn; Stork Mountain by Miroslav Penkov; Shelter by Jung Yun; Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton; and The North Water by Ian McGuire. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
Not highbrow, not lowbrow, not even middlebrow – is American culture now dominated by the upper middle brow?
If you run into trouble in Iceland, blame the elves. 54.4 percent of Icelanders believe in the invisible creatures, and elves cause environmental protest today. “Beliefs in misfortune befalling those who dare to build in elf territory is so widespread and frequent that the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration has created a five-page ‘standard reply’ for press inquiries about elves,” Ryan Jacobs writes for The Atlantic. Pair with: our essay on Icelandic writer Sjón.
“As they were actual animals, rather than anthropomorphized personality traits intended to teach moral lessons, the Dog’s words were just a bunch of barking. The Goat bolted across the road, ending up on the ridge behind the Baker place. The Goat’s owner then called Animal Control, even though the Dog’s owner knew about the pot plants in the former’s greenhouse, which he had always been cool about, though that may change real soon.” Aesop’s lesser fables.
“It may be vanity on my part … but I have a fairly high opinion of the two pieces that I sent in.” A 68-year-old aspiring writer has accused the Iowa Writers’ Workshop of age discrimination, reports The Los Angeles Times. In his complaint, Dan Thomson cites “statistics from the program that reveal that, in the last five years, just over 100 would-be graduate students over the age of 50 applied to the program, but none made the cut.” Doesn’t he know you don’t need an MFA, anyway?