Ryan Topper writes for Public Books about Netflix’s Beasts of No Nation and rejects the white savior plot that characterizes many child-soldier narratives. Pair with Noah Deutsch’s Millions review of the novel on which the series was based.
This week saw the release of Vanishing Point, Vol. II: Songs of the Living and Dying. You may recall my earlier mention of the Vanishing Point project, which was recently borne out of Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies. This time around, the publication boasts a redesigned appearance, and it features articles and essays about midwifery in Mali, the intersections between poetry and cinema, and a view of Walden Pond that you’ve never seen before — all presented with accompany visual material, and all produced by university students. This is outstanding stuff, and it’s well worth your time.
“Here is the last and biggest piece of advice I have: If you have a story that you want to tell, but you’re afraid that someone in your life is going to feel wounded, whether that feeling is justified or not, fair or not, tell it anyway.” Emma Straub, who recently wrote about her Year in Reading, gives some advice on fictionalizing real people in an essay for Rookie.
If you’re in need of a great read this week, you’ll be glad to know that Byliner has compiled a list of 101 spectacular nonfiction stories from 2011. They run the gamut from investigative to personal to borderline trivial: There’s Mac McClelland’s incredibly daring and disturbing essay on working through PTSD through controlled sexual violence, alongside Jon Mooallem’s history of the high five. Happy reading!