This track-by-track take on Jason Isbell’s newest album Something More Than Free is as comprehensive as it is intelligent. Isbell, who rose to fame as a member of Athens, GA mainstays The Drive By Truckers, has seen most of the press narrative around him focus on his trips to rehab and subsequent recovery–this record, however, aims for something more. Here’s our Torch Ballads & Jukebox Music column to satisfy any lingering musical urges.
At 3 Quarks Daily, Akeel Bilgrami’s essay on the pleasures of literature: “To understand what is special about literature is not to delegate the emotions to literature while retaining thought for philosophy and science. The idea is to find in the distinctly expressive function of literature, a refusal of that tired dualism.” (via Book Bench)
“In the morning, before we left, we presented my aunt with a gift from Indonesia, a package of luwak, one of four in Bon’s duffel. Civet coffee? she said, bemused. We were already savoring cups of coffee at her table, brewed in her coffee press from Arabica beans of her own supply.” An excerpt from Year in Reading alumnus Viet Thanh Nguyen’s forthcoming novel appears in the new issue of Ploughshares.
For The New York Times, Alexandra Alter writes about girls in titles lately—Emma Cline’s The Girls, Megan Miranda’s All the Missing Girls, and Amy Schumer’s The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, to name a few. Pair with Michael Bourne’s Millions review of The Girls.
Independent publisher Melville House worked straight through December to publish the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture in time for the New Year. Now co-founder Dennis Johnson talks with Vulture about why his press decided to publish the book at all, and about the varied moral and practical concerns at stake when working on such a project.
“In his column, Manjoo goes on to call out virtual reality for being ‘a lonely, anti-social affair’—but, hey, isn’t that what reading a novel used to be? I mean, before we figured out how to make books ping and arouse competitive instincts by flagging favorite passages of readers who got there before we did. (I don’t mean to harp on Farhad Manjoo or to denigrate his excellent work; his reticence is shared by others in both legacy and new media cautioning against VR.)” It looks like VR is in desperate need of good storytellers.