“Think of landscape. Think of how elements come to be attached to one another, how it’s impossible to separate the road from the field, the field from the tree, the tree from the water, the water from the sky. We cannot attribute natural features to the lines we design just as we cannot attribute natural causes to those dying as they try to cross them.” For Tin House, Portuguese writer Susana Moreira Marques meditates on the concept of borders and Wolf Böwig’s photography project, “Borders and Beyond.”
Congratulations to the five young writers named to the inaugural class of the National Student Poets Program. Louisa Banchoff (17), Miles Hewitt (17), Claire Lee (16), Natalie Richardson (17) and Lylia Younes (17) were appointed by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, and they will serve as “literary ambassadors” for the next year.
Those of you with some knowledge of Pale Fire and Lolita won’t be surprised to learn what Nabokov thought of dinner parties. Namely, he thought they were awful, vaguely surreal events, held largely by drunkards with overriding appetites for drama. At The Paris Review Daily, Sadie Stein quotes a passage from “The Vane Sisters” to explain why “It’s hard to think of someone you’d want less at a midcentury faculty tea, save maybe a seething Shirley Jackson.” You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.
Remember when Colson Whitehead wrote about his experiences at the World Series of Poker? Well, the Zone One author is back at it again, but this time with dispatches from London’s Olympic Village. I wonder if he’ll share any gossip about Vince Vaughn and the US Women’s Soccer team…
For Public Books, Matthew Clair considers authoritative black knowledge in intellectual practices and “the logic of racial authenticity,” which “stipulates both that black intellectuals have a particular responsibility to represent, in both senses of that word, ‘their’ people, and that, as racial insiders, they are uniquely capable of doing so.”
New this week is David Bezmozgis’s The Free World, the new Geoff Dyer collection of criticism Otherwise Known as the Human Condition (reviewed here today), “Professor X’s” higher ed expose In the Basement of the Ivory Tower, Funeral for a Dog, a German novel in translation by young author Thomas Pletzinger, which John Wray has blurbed as “ballsy,” and Chinaberry, a posthumously published novel by the Appalachian author James Still.
“A name serves as a gateway to knowing someone, and usually the person with the aberrant name must create the opportunities. One way is to change her name.” S. Isabel Choi writes on why she chose to go by Isabel in high school. Pair with a piece on growing up with a Paraguayan name in the U.S.