Whether or not you’ve read Grace Paley, you’re likely to appreciate this George Saunders essay about her, which justifies his contention that she’s “one of the great writers of voice of the last century.” You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg’s tribute to Paley upon her death.
“If I could paint or compose music, I would want to finally arrive at what I felt was beauty for me and for others. I would trust that if I could make something that was beautiful, it would also be true, the way Charlie Parker is true or a Shostakovich cello concerto is true, and I feel the same way about writing. I try to make something beautiful out of language.” Fogged Clarity interviews Stuart Dybek about the writing process and Ecstatic Cahoots, which we mentioned in our 2014 Book Preview.
In 1980, Julio Cortázar gave a series of lectures at Berkeley, which you can now read in the slim, simply-titled volume Literature Class. Among the highlights? This sentence: “I had lived with a complete feeling of familiarity with the fantastic because it seemed as acceptable to me, as possible and as real, as the fact of eating soup at eight o’clock in the evening.”
n+1 provides a fascinating study of today’s divisive concept of cultural elitism: “Today, though, it’s the bearers of culture rather than the wielders of power who are taxed with elitism. If the term is applied to powerful people, this is strictly for cultural reasons, as the different reputations of the identically powerful Obama and Bush attest. No one would think to call a foul-mouthed four-star general an elitist, even though he commands an army, any more than the term would cover a private equity titan who hires Rod Stewart to serenade his 60th birthday party.”
“Classroom lessons may slip quickly through students’ fingers, but the classroom experience lingers in memory. Each teacher offers students a different model of authority and justice. We set our own standards of fairness and sometimes fail to honor them. A teacher swings a heavy club, and we can leave big, purple bruises if we’re not careful.” Ben Orlin writes for The Atlantic about becoming an unfair teacher and then resolving to improve. For more thoughts about teaching, be sure to check out our own Nick Ripatrazone‘s “55 Thoughts for English Teachers.“