“The notion that American literature might have an imperial bent—that it might be anything other than a string of lightly co-influential works of ‘imaginative power,’ and might itself reflect our national desire to dominate—is lost on its critics, both right and left.” Jonathan Sturgeon in The Baffler on American exceptionalism and “the imperial self” in fiction, with particular attention paid to the work of two other Jonathans, Franzen and Safran Foer.
Vanity Fair’s latest cover is proof that we live in an era in which men have the privilege of being just as objectified as women. Nominally a celebration of the 2010 World Cup that kicks off in South Africa in June, the magazine’s gay porn-ish cover features soccer superstars Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast and Portugal’s Christiano Ronaldo in nothing but their flags, photographed by Annie Leibovitz. Within (oh, my stars & stripes!) you can behold the U.S.’s Landon Donovan, as well as Brazil’s Kaká, Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon, England’s Carlton Cole, Germany’s Michael Ballack–all in their undies. Cheers to you, Vanity Fair: Your enterprising shamelessness truly knows no bounds.
“There’s much to be commended in the work done by FiveThirtyEight, or even Vox,” writes Millions contributor Brian Ted Jones. “But making problems seem smaller then they are is a harm that outweighs all the good.” He goes on to tie together the rise of “explainer” sites, the problem with “hashtag activism,” and also references to Louis C.K., Teju Cole, and Leslie Jamison.
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.