Check out this conversation between Margaret Mead and James Baldwin on race, guilt, and responsibility.
"In the 1970s it circulated among Left Bank intellectuals, including Sartre and Bernard-Henri Lévy, as an aid to productive writing. In 1981 it was listed as a controlled substance in the US and in 1986, after it was scheduled under the WHO Convention on Psychotropic Substances, it was removed from prescription sale." The London Review of Books reviews two histories about the role of drugs in the fighting of wars, Blitzed: Drugs In the Third Reich by Norman Ohler and Shooting Up: A History of Drugs in Warfare by Łukasz Kamieński Hurst. Both pay particular attention to Captagon (the name a portmanteau of "captain" and "pentagon"), a pharmaceutical that has become common throughout Eastern Europe, the Gulf States, India, and China, and by 2014 "had become a significant source of funding for all sides in Syria’s civil war."
Serious reading is harder than ever. With so many distractions around, it’s incredibly difficult for a novel to keep our attention. In The Nation, Joanna Scott makes a case that careful reading is in danger, and builds a case for preserving difficult fiction. You could also read our own Nick Ripatrazone on trying to teach Thomas Pynchon.
“What if, instead of simply critiquing Go Set a Watchman’s failure, we tried to analyze it? The new, older work makes more sense if we read it as an attempt to accomplish two tasks: first, to master—unsuccessfully, it turns out—the smart-magazine style that Harper Lee developed in her student journalism; and second, to write in a genre that often relied on the ironic elisions typical of ‘smart style’: the midcentury social-problem novel.” Tom Perrin on Harper Lee and the social novel. Pair with Michael Bourne's Millions review.
“Adrianne [Lobel] suspects that there’s another dimension to the series’s sustained popularity. Frog and Toad are ‘of the same sex, and they love each other,’ she told me. ‘It was quite ahead of its time in that respect.’ In 1974, four years after the first book in the series was published, [Arnold] Lobel came out to his family as gay.” On love and Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad.
Janet Reitman, a contributing editor to Rolling Stone, spent five years researching Inside Scientology, which is reviewed here by Brook Wilensky-Lanford for The San Francisco Chronicle. Earlier this year, 'Million Dollar Baby'-screenwriter Paul Haggis spoke with Lawrence Wright of The New Yorker about L. Ron Hubbard's religion.