Patti Smith’s M Train was released this Tuesday. Geoffrey O’Brien reviews her memoir at The New York Review of Books: “Perhaps M Train represents the attempt by someone whose career is as public as can be imagined to stake out a zone of inviolable privacy, albeit through the public act of writing a book meant for publication.” Need more music? Check out our Torch Ballads and Jukebox Music column.
When Belarusian investigative journalist Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize earlier this year, her horrifying and poetic book Voices From Chernobyl exposed a great many readers to the Chernobyl disaster. Now, this piece from The Atlantic takes a look at Chernobyl’s literary legacy over the past three decades.
We’ve written before about the By the Book series, in which the Times invites well-known authors to talk about their favorite books. This weekend, they interviewed the historian James M. McPherson, who recalled his childhood reading habits and cited his favorite examples of Civil War literature. Pair with: Darryl Campbell on the Civil War series by Ken Burns.
Jessica Love writes for The American Scholar about some recent psychological studies on the art and perspective of storytelling. Of particular interest is the way “the first person does seem to encourage us to identify with the narrator, especially when that narrator is a lot like us.” Not that identifying with narrators is the primary purpose of reading, as the New Yorker reminds us in a piece against “relatability,” but it’s something to consider the next time you pick up a novel and find a character who seems to be just like you.
“’I put lipstick on a pig,’ he said. ‘I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is’ … If he were writing The Art of the Deal today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, ‘The Sociopath.'” Donald Trump’s ghostwriter from The Art of the Deal, Tony Schwartz, expresses some remorse and tells what it was like to write Trump.
The word “cool” has been cool for more than 70 years. At Slate, Carl Wilson examines why this slang stuck, and how it’s evolved from being used by beatniks to smartphone companies. “Cool is an attitude that allows detached assessment, but one that prizes an air of knowingness over specific knowledge. I think that’s why it doesn’t become dated, unlike hotter-running expressions of enthusiasm like groovy or rad.” Pair with: Michael Agger’s essay on why we love the “cool story, bro” meme.