“It is a sad irony that the snake’s rattle, which functions as a warning device, is widely regarded as a bellicose drumroll, or war-cry, instead. It may well have been in a mood of remorse for having killed a rattlesnake on impulse that [William] Bartram, vowing solemnly that he ‘would never again be accessory to the death of a rattle snake,’ painted his marvelous portrait of a coiled rattler.” Christopher Benfey on Rattlesnake Island, a sanctuary set up to protect the woodland serpents from their greatest danger — us.
You may have heard that Pulitzer laureate Oscar Hijuelos passed away on Sunday at the age of 62. Hijuelos, who won the prize in 1990 for his novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, broke ground as the first Latino author to take home the prestigious award. On NPR, David Greene talks with Columbia professor Gustavo Perez Firmat about the author’s legacy. (Related: Thea Lim on people of color and American writing.)
“Historians, I believe, are dedicated to fighting against the tide of our social amnesia. The reason they continue to write books about the Holocaust, or Appomatox, or the earthquake in Haiti, is to try to help us remember the suffering and the extent of the damage. Some try to humanize, and others turn to abstraction.” Stewart L. Sinclair writes on burying the remnants of disaster, over at Guernica. Pair with his Millions essay on technology and Apple’s operating systems.
Ultra-niche magazines operate a bit differently than their larger and more mainstream cousins. Magazines like Donkey Talk, which caters exclusively to donkey hobbyists, aim for tiny audiences of a few hundred to a few thousand readers. They also cultivate their own jargon — one magazine, The Mountain Astrologer, tosses the word “quincunx” around as casually as “email.”