Learn more about Hans Christian Andersen Award winner Cao Wenxuan. “China has given us so many heartbreaking stories. How can you avoid writing about them? I can’t sacrifice my life experience in order to make children happy.” Pair with Edan Lepucki’s piece on the grown-up counterparts to children’s stories.
“Nobody there but dirty old men who spit tobacco juice and try to look up your skirt.” The city square is one of the biggest architectural differences between the United States and Europe. Over at The Daily Beast, George Packer takes a look at plazas/piazzas and makes a case for why America needs more.
In a piece reminiscent of Talk of the Nation’s “You Can’t Possibly Read It All, So Stop Trying” episode, A D Jameson tracks every film he’s watched over a fifteen year span, and then discusses the data for HTMLGiant. Choice line (which could easily apply to literature, too): “The more you watch from the present day, the more garbage you’re bound to see—but your conclusions will be your own. Conversely, the further back you go, the more you’ll be guided by the opinions of others. (If nothing else, what’s available will be largely determined by what’s remained popular.)”
“Why can’t we keep our literary heroes where they belong, at the top of the bookshelf next to all the others? And why must we ache for their approval, their admiration, their love?” Alex Gilvarry posts about writers who dare to approach their literary heroes for the Paris Review Daily.
“Marta Reale, 10, her smile broad, her bangs blanched, made her way to a recreation center’s doorway through the dense crowd of other children, sunlit cigarette smoke and mothers fanning themselves on the seats of scooters. Above her, more children were hanging out the window, and above them, more were crammed onto a balcony.” Jason Horowitz files from Naples, Italy for The New York Times about a casting call for HBO’s upcoming adaptation of Elena Ferrante‘s My Brilliant Friend, noting that it “has already drawn 5,000 children, the vast majority of whom have never heard of Elena Ferrante, and injected a mix of hysteria and hope into parts of Naples that are poor in resources but rich in real characters.” Pair with this piece about The Neapolitan Quartet‘s scope and impact.
Part Into the Wild, part Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Howard Axelrod’s The Point of Vanishing is the story of his two years spent in profound solitude in the Vermont wilderness. Called “torture” by prison rights activists and “a threat to mental stability” by psychologists, Axelrod’s decision to sequester himself from society was nothing if not extreme. Alexander Supertramp would be proud.