David Kurnick explores what makes Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels so addictive. As he puts it, “In Ferrante we see what grand novelistic ambition looks like devoid of writerly vanity.” Pair with Cora Currier’s essay on reading Italy through Ferrante’s books.
Urvashi Butalia and Ritu Menon founded India’s first feminist publishing house, Kali For Women, in 1984. In 2003, they parted ways to start their own projects: Menon began Women Unlimited; Butalia founded Zubaan Books. Now, in a compressed and edited interview for Mint, Butalia discusses some of the challenges she faces in India’s publishing ecosystem, and also notes, “in my 40 years in publishing, things have never felt as exciting as they are now. It truly seems there are infinite possibilities.”
Don’t expect to hear from Alan Moore anytime soon. He is withdrawing from public life after accusations that his comics include racist characters and too much sexual violence toward women according to an interview with Pádraig Ó Méalóid. He also took the opportunity to disparage society’s obsession with superheroes, which probably won’t win him any more fans. “To my mind, this embracing of what were unambiguously children’s characters at their mid-20th century inception seems to indicate a retreat from the admittedly overwhelming complexities of modern existence.”
“‘Oh,’ she said, ‘a lot of dogs don’t like black people but they’re fine with everyone else.’ … Was this just a workplace microaggression, or are these dogs actually racist? I found myself grappling with the idea that not only do actual humans hate me for being black; dogs could also hate me for reasons that are out of my control.” Kelly Mays McDonald on how we have weaponized dogs in The Awl.
“I remember LeVar shooting at a zoo and an elephant had a cold and kept blowing snot all over him. He never lost his cool. ‘OK, let’s try it again.’” OMG guys, Mental Floss has an oral history of Reading Rainbow! And let us also never forget the reminiscences of our founder C. Max Magee‘s mom upon learning the show would be cancelled.
Every year brings a fresh new crop of popular books on physics and cosmology, or so they say. 2011 was no exception, featuring books on dark matter and dark energy, the Large Hadron Collider, time, the multiverse, cosmic mortality, a bit of history, biography, and even a celebration of “fringe physics.” Here is a list of top ten picks.