“In college, I didn’t realize I was the face of the Diaspora, the embodiment of all the women they thought I was, and who I knew I was. I was from Africa, east and west, a sojourner through the islands of the Caribbean, a daughter of the Second Great Migration of African-Americans from South to North. Perhaps Chaka said it best—to these young men, I was ‘every woman.’ To airport security, I was that woman. The one to be stopped and searched. The one who was suspect. A long-lost daughter whose lineage crossed through Kush—was I carrying Kush now, perhaps, in my hair?” If a ‘Pat-downs, Pissing, and Passport Stamps’ headline isn’t enough to get you to read this great piece from The Literary Hub, hopefully the quote will do.
Peter Mendelsund writes for the Paris Review about how we see, or think we see, fictional characters. “Characters are ciphers. … We are ever reviewing and reconsidering our mental portraits of characters in novels: amending them, backtracking to check on them, updating them when new information arises.”
“To the pathless wastes, into thin air, with no reviews, no best-seller lists, no college curricula, no National Book Awards or Pulitzer Prizes, no ads, no publicity, not even word of mouth to guide me!” For her new book The Shelf: From LEQ to LES, Phyllis Rose undertook the ultimate stunt in writing-about-reading: an unsorted shelf with no logic at all.
Can you hear me, Major Tom? The world lost one of the good ones today in David Bowie; celebrate his enormous contributions to art as we know it and take a look at this list of Bowie’s 100 essential books which includes everyone from Camille Paglia to Anthony Burgess. Bonus: here’s a link to Bowie singing “Changes” in what became his final live performance.