“Too often, being on the left tasks you with a vigilant daily quest to avoid being tagged with snobbery. In sociological living, we place value on those works or groups that seem most likely to force a reevaluation of an exclusive or oppressive order, or an order felt to be oppressive simply because exclusive. And yet despite this perpetual reevaluation of all values, the underlying social order seems unchanged; the sense of it all being a game not only persists, but hardens.” From n + 1, the latest “Intellectual Situation”: “Too Much Sociology.”
On International Women’s Day the New York Times launched Overlooked, a project that features the obituaries of remarkable women who did not receive the NYT obituary treatment when they passed away. It turns out only 20% of NYT obituaries were about women. Overlooked will seek to remedy this oversight by posting new obituaries of female icons weekly for the rest of 2018. Of particular note to our readers this week; Charlotte Bronte, Qiu Jin, Nella Larsen, Sylvia Plath and Ida B. Wells. But all 15 obituaries are worth reading, whether to learn something new or refresh your memory.
Considering his first novel was a chronicle of gang life in the Bronx, it makes sense that the new book by Richard Price is a tale of the NYPD. In the latest issue of The New Yorker, Joyce Carol Oates reads the novel, remarking that it “retains a residue of Price’s absorption with his rough urban settings and with the phenomenon of a particular sort of masculinity.” Related: our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Price and his crime fiction contemporaries.
Why would anyone write a book anonymously? Maria Bustillos ponders anonymity at The New Yorker. “Anonymous is more than a pseudonym. It is a stark declaration of intent: a wall explicitly thrown up, not only between writer and reader, but between the writer’s work and his life.”
Anyone who’s ever forgotten a million-dollar idea will attest to the maddening tendency of the subconscious to forget things. For many people, this extends to dreams, where the best ideas can pop up and die before the morning. But why is it so difficult to remember them? At Salon, the neuroscience behind our chronic inability to remember dreams. Related: Blake Butler’s innovative Year in Reading piece.
The Atlantic reviews the first full-length biography of Joan Didion, The Last Love Song by Tracy Daugherty, to be released August 25th. The biography “looks at the author’s legacy of cool.” Related: Franklin Strong’s essay on “The Manliness of Joan Didion” in The Millions.
“Because what [narcissists] have inside is empty space, they have had to make a study of the selves of others in order to invent something that looks and sounds like one. Narcissists are imitators par excellence. And they do not copy the small, boring parts of selves. They take what they think are the biggest, most impressive parts of other selves, and devise a hologram of self that seems superpowered. Let’s call it ‘selfiness,’ this simulacrum of a superpowered self.” Go enjoy this excerpt from Kristin Dombek’s new book The Selfishness of Others: An Essay on the Fear of Narcissism.