Over at the Literary Hub, Morgan Jerkins writes about the struggle to describe blackness. As she puts it, “My hope is to create imperfect, multitudinous black women who are more in tune with themselves than their audiences.” Pair with our own Michael Bourne’s list of books that “shed light on the history and evolution of racism in America.”
What would happen if you had a clock to countdown the exact number of days until you died? Our own Mark O’Connell discovers the paranoia of having the Days of Life app measure his mortality at The New Yorker. “Days of Life functions like a reductio ad absurdum of the logic of personal productivity. The pie chart becomes a special way of being afraid: an image of the self as a micro-economy of numbered days.” For a more uplifting version of O’Connell, check out his 2013 Year in Reading post.
The good souls at Longform.org have organized all of this year’s National Magazine Award winners.
W.H. Auden lived a secret life, not as a man with a second family or an illicit habit but as, weirdly enough, a genuinely kind human being. He paid for a friend’s costly operation and camped outside the apartment of a woman who suffered from night terrors until she felt safe enough to sleep on her own again. So why did the poet want to hide his good deeds? He claimed he didn’t want to be admired for basic decency.