“I’m annoyed that so many young rapists lack interest in their own motivations, or are led to believe that an absence of real psychic motive will make the crime merely an act, when really it’s the uninterested mereness of the act that makes it feel, to some victims, so criminal.” Sarah Nicole Prickett compares the many letters released following Brock Turner’s trial at n+1.
Adorable pictures of baby hippos aside, it’s a common misconception that animals are “smiling” at you out of sincere happiness. Probably you’re projecting that onto them, writes Lee Dye in a piece from 2010. For more on the perils of assigning human qualities to other animal species, I highly recommend checking out Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy’s When Elephants Weep.
“At a time when heated conversations about diversity and cultural appropriation in literature abound, The Loved Ones is a wondrous gift, a pleasant reminder that there are many thoughtful writers who can create believable characters of multiple races, ethnicities, and genders without relying on caricature or stereotypes.” We’re all warm inside from Necessary Fiction‘s lovely review of Millions staff writer Sonya Chung‘s novel, which we featured in our second-half 2016 book preview.
The Mississippi was integral to Mark Twain’s fiction, so David Carkeet traced Twain’s path on the river in the new issue of Smithsonian. “What would Samuel Clemens have made of the Riverwalk? He was a grown child who readily took a God’s-eye view of life on earth. He would have loved it.” Pair with: Our essay on Twain’s travel writing.
Veterans of writing workshops will know that a good story has a heavy dose of conflict. One can add it to a story in many ways, but one of the best and most reliable is to add a predator, either in the form of a threatening organisation or an animal or person with malicious intent. At the Ploughshares blog, Year in Reading alum Megan Mayhew Bergman reflects on predatory literature.
Over at The New Yorker, Hilton Als writes about Beyoncé’s Lemonade, Prince, Cecil Taylor, Octavia Butler, and time travel. He writes, “Toward the end of the film, [Beyoncé] moves further back into the past and examines her roots, we see any number of sharply dressed women sitting in the natural world, talking among themselves. This will remind readers of that extraordinary scene in Beloved, when the elder commands those who have gathered in a clearing to love their hands, themselves—because if they don’t, who will?”