“Calling yourself depressed when you’re a writer seems so redundant.” On a year in reading Infinite Jest with Anna Fitzpatrick at Hazlitt. Be sure to check out the new fan-designed cover for the twentieth anniversary edition of the book.
“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.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is almost as famous for being sampled on Beyoncé’s latest album as she is for her novel Americanah. With that in mind, she discussed her writing process, hair blogs, and what feminism means to her in Elle. “It means that I am present in the world, and that I realize that there is a problem with the way we’ve constructed gender,” she said. For more Adichie, read her 2013 Year in Reading post.
Need to know how to tell if someone is or is not dead? How to leave a party gracefully? How to avoid the plague? Luckily the writers of the Middle Ages had a how-to book for everything, even if that advice does include killing bed bugs by “Spread[ing] Gun-powder, beaten small, about the crevices of your bedstead” and then lighting it.
Back in March, I pointed readers to an interview with Minae Mizumura, whose recent book, The Fall of Language in the Age of English, makes a case against the dominance of the English language in the modern age. Now, at Full-Stop, Sho Spaeth reviews the book. Sample quote: “She has a curious blindness to what may be her greatest offense of all to the prevailing attitude of our age: a naive rejection of the idea that novels, and their novelists, exist merely to entertain.”
This week, Football Book Club will be reading Brain Fever by Kimiko Hahn and posting essays about Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio — its selection from last week — and life without the NFL. Brain Fever is the 10th book of poetry from Hahn, who won the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry and an American Book Award in 2008 and was named a Guggenheim Fellow in 2010.