Fact or Fiction: Smoking makes you look cool. According to Christopher Urban at The Paris Review, it’s an inarguable fact. Now at least let him defend himself. How cool does young Raymond Carver sound with his candy Lucky Strike?
The world isn’t exactly wanting for character studies of Captain Ahab, but Chris Power manages to come up with a novel analysis of the character in this essay about the Moby-Dick antagonist. In Power’s telling, Ahab was valuable in part for what he told us about the 20th century -- namely, he foreshadowed the dictators and despots to come. You could also read Hester Blum’s contribution to this essay about the best American novels.
Spider-Man is one of our favorite superheroes, but he's a terrible journalist. At The Atlantic, Daniel D. Snyder discusses how Peter Parker and Clark Kent are unethical reporters. "The media is, in theory at least, supposed to be honest. Putting on a costume, coming up with a fake name, and lying to everyone about what you really do are the opposite of that."