Recommended Reading: This piece by Adelle Waldman at The New Yorker on loving and loathing Samuel Richardson, “the man who made the modern novel.”
“Somehow, in my eagerness to honor these words, I’d tamed the political intentions behind their meaning. I’d reduced my icon’s truths into affirmational pick-me-ups rather than letting them sink deeper.” Dianca Potts reflects on how to best to appreciate the fullness of Maya Angelou, Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison. We need to resist erasing their complexities in our haste to embrace them as icons or reduce them to inspirational quotes.
Over at the Slate Book Review, Laura Miller gives Bill O’Reilly’s Killing series a fair shake. From Jesus to Reagan, O’Reilly and his cowriter Martin Dugard have killed off five famous historical “Great Men.” Despite claims of some dubious assertions having been made throughout the series, the books themselves have enjoyed tremendous commercial success.
When did Twitter turn into a place of public shame, outrage, and apology? Alexander Chee examines the changing culture in an essay for Dame Magazine. “Oh, Internet, place of the ultimate writerly paradox, where things you write quickly for little or no money last forever.” Our own Mark O’Connell explored something similar in his New Yorker essay on the public humiliation of regrettable tweets.
“Eventually, the judicial bureaucracy begins to seem almost as destructive as the rapist.” Domenica Ruta writes on Emily Winslow’s Jane Doe January and Joanna Connors’ I Will Find You, two books that probe our culture’s failure to address sexual violence. Pair with a piece on poetry as a response to sexual violence.
Kurt Vonnegut famously wrote that all semicolons do is “show you’ve been to college.” What to make, then of The Lonely Island’s raunchy new song about their favorite punctuation mark? (For the record: Jorma Taccone attended UCLA; Akiva Schaffer attended UC-Santa Cruz; and Andy Samberg attended UC-Santa Cruz and NYU.)
In the pages of the Washington Post, the venerable Miss Manners responds to an English department secretary who feels “besieged by fringe ‘academics’ who are very adamant that we are part of a conspiracy to cover up the fact that Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, was Shakespeare.”