Over at The New York Times, Citizen author Claudia Rankine reviews Teju Cole’s new essay collection. As she puts it, “Cole attempts to untangle the knot of who or what belongs to us and to whom or what do we belong as artists, thinkers and, finally, human beings.” Pair with this Millions interview with Cole.
Poets, dog-lovers, urban-dwellers, and really, everyone — check out poet and dog-trainer Susie DeFord‘s heartfelt and keen-eyed new book of poems, Dogs of Brooklyn. Says Vijay Seshadri, DeFord’s collection is full of “wonderful poetic investigations into the life of Brooklyn’s dogs, into their habits, their idiosyncrasies, and their secret longings.”
Guernica’s latest issue is devoted to the American South. As the issue’s introduction states, “The American South is at once a geographical distinction and a bright spot in the imagination, where burden vies with birthright, and where ignorance and renaissance exist side by side.” The issue features a Kiese Laymon essay on inequality and language, Ed Winstead on the Southern accent in writing, an interview with Jesmyn Ward, fiction, and more.
How do you write an accurate memoir without perpetuating stereotypes? Jesmyn Ward struggled with this when writing about absent black fathers and husbands in her book Men We Reaped. “I also had to figure out how much of the truth do I tell, how do I make the truth as balanced as I possibly can? How do I make these people as complicated and as human and as unique and as multifaceted as I possibly can? For me, that was the way I attempted to counteract some of that criticism,” she told The Rumpus.
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.)”
Here’s the perfect example of something you didn’t even know you wanted: Gary Oldman doing a dramatic reading from R. Kelly’s memoir, Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me. This performance will surely join the pantheon of great pop culture readings alongside Christopher Walken’s reading of Lady Gaga’s “Pokerface” and John Lithgow’s reading of Newt Gingrich’s “florid” and “overwritten” press release.