This week poet Mark Baumer was struck and killed by an SUV while walking barefoot across the country. Baumer, 33, began his cross-country walk to raise awareness about climate change, and was documenting the journey on his blog (as well as Instagram and YouTube). Florida, where he was killed, was recently ranked “the most dangerous place for pedestrians” in the United States.
“A film based on a historical subject, even a beautifully shot one, can remind us without meaning to that although reading in the US is a minority activity, the book is still the only medium in which you can make a complicated argument.” Darryl Pinckney writes about “Some Different Ways of Looking at Selma” for the New York Review of Books. Pair with our own Bill Morris‘s Millions review of the film.
“Young black fiction writers in the U.S. often face a strange obstacle as they try to figure out who they are — it’s called American literature. A high number of pre-civil-rights-era novels by white American writers are likely to include tossed-off racial slurs and/or stock black characters, some of which make racially conscious readers want to hurl the book across the room, even if the wooly-headed pickaninnies are only peeking around a doorjamb on one page out of 400. There are exceptions, but shockingly few. You always have to brace yourself — always.” James Hannaham writes about growing up in Yonkers but finding himself in Southern literature.
In spite of the title of her blog post, Lily Meyer doesn’t think Ann Patchett is really an enemy of Zadie Smith. Instead, she thinks the two authors play opposing roles in her life, thanks largely to the different effects their books have on her perceptions. At the Ploughshares blog, she contrasts their novels, using excerpts from White Teeth and Bel Canto. Related: Kevin Charles Redmon’s review of Patchett’s novel State of Wonder.
Henry Holt & Company stopped printing and selling Charles Pellegrino‘s The Last Train From Hiroshima last week, following allegations of fraudulent sources and fabrication in the work. The New York Times examines the debacle: “If book publishers are supposed to be the gatekeepers,” novelist and Studio 360 host Kurt Anderson asks, “tell me exactly what they’re closing the gate to.”
“The Dares. We’d been at them all summer: making each other do stuff, alone or together, just for the fun of it. Girls like us, with high GPAs and not a single boy looking our way, needed a little danger to get us through the summer.” Our own Edan Lepucki has a short story, “Ambulance of Boys,” on Storychord.com.
Janet Frame’s posthumous novel In the Memorial Room is out this week, as is a new e-book edition of Jack London’s The Sea Wolf. Also out: Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems by the onetime Poet Laureate William Stafford; a new biography of Alfred, Lord Tennyson; and the latest edition of The Best American Magazine Writing.