Meanwhile, in the commonwealth of Virginia, HB 516 is currently sailing through state legislature. What began as one mother’s outraged response to her 17-year-old son’s AP English assignment–reading Beloved by Toni Morrison–has morphed into a bill which would require school districts to do three things: flag any “sexually explicit” assigned material, allow parents to review all assigned readings to assess perceived levels of sexual explicitness, and finally, require teachers to provide alternate readings/avenues of study for any students whose parents deem particular content too inappropriate.
New this week: Paul Auster's latest, Sunset Park; a new collection of short stories from Stephen King called Full Dark, No Stars; The Memory Hole, a memoir by the historian Tony Judt who recently died from ALS (the essays collected here appeared in recent months in the New York Review of Books); and the latest obligatory obfuscatory presidential memoir Decision Points.
Most of the time, when somebody insults a writer on Twitter, the insult disappears into the cyberspace ether. However, as with any rule, there are always exceptions, and one is when you trash Joyce Carol Oates and then thank her for inventing a breakfast food.
"Given his devotion to empirical fact, it seems odd to think that Galileo’s most important ideas might have their roots not in the real world, but in a fictional one." Galileo’s crucial contributions to physics may have come from measuring the hell of Dante’s Inferno.
“To the list of differences between men and women, we can add one more: the drug-dose gender gap. Doctors and researchers increasingly understand that there can be striking variations in the way men and women respond to drugs, many of which are tested almost exclusively on males.” On the strikingly persistent gender gap in pain.
"After years of reading, teaching, and writing about the book, though, I’ve come to believe that... our understanding of what is comic and what is serious in Huck Finn says more about America in the last century than America in the time Twain wrote the book." Andrew Levy writes for Salon about childhood, race, and "dedicated amnesia" in Mark Twain's controversial classic.