“WHAT DO YOU DO? If you go to the elder debate and support gay marriage because all members of your village should have the right to a love that’s recognized by the State, close the book now. You will not impress the elders whose support you will so desperately need on your journey. Instead, your bravery will be met by an angry horde who throws you into Deadman’s Bog. If you oppose Zylorg’s marriage until a more politically opportune time — perhaps, after several gay bogmen sitcoms become popular — then congratulations, advance to page 38.” These excerpts from Hillary Clinton’s imagined, dystopian, choose-your-own-adventure YA novel are enlightening.
The New Yorker is not a magazine for the general public, writes Summer Brennan in the Literary Hub. “Because The New Yorker is nothing if not a view of the world from a comfortable vantage point. The intensity of the features is balanced by reviews of Manhattan restaurants and jokes about how busy we all are. Print magazines are tribal, and we swear our allegiance by buying them and opening them up. The New Yorker assumes that I am politically liberal and have read Chekhov’s The Seagull, and The New Yorker is right.”
“It is early August. A black man is shot by a white policeman. And the effect on the community is of “a lit match in a tin of gasoline.” No, this is not Ferguson, MO.” Laila Lalami reports for NPR on rereading James Baldwin‘s Notes of a Native Son in the context of Ferguson. Pair with Teju Cole‘s essay in The New Yorker about rereading Baldwin’s “Stranger in the Village.”
“Maybe I [felt] a shift in responsibility when I had kids. I wanted the work I was doing, whatever it was, to be something that could be meaningful to them one day. That’s where the germ of the memoir came from. I thought that perhaps writing about my parents and where I came from would one day be helpful for my kids.” For Guernica, Christopher Kondrich interviews Tracy K. Smith about writing a memoir, the presence of David Bowie in her Life on Mars, and her reverence for the cosmic. Also check out Sophia Nguyen’s Millions review of Smith’s memoir, Ordinary Light.
Laila Lalami recently wrote about “How History Becomes Story,” but writing an interesting and compelling history book sans fiction has its own challenges. Thankfully S.C. Gwynne offers some tips in a piece for the History News Network, including the hard-hitting reminder that “it is your job to force your facts into narrative form.”