“I have a big global voice, but a small local one, because I don’t want to be a target, and resent that in 2017, that’s still the only choice I get to have. I have a rule of leaving the party, or social space as soon as I see five white people drunk, because the only person who will remember that moment when everybody got hella racist will be me. I have a self-imposed curfew of when to ride my bike home, when to leave the park. I would rather risk my life riding late at night on the empty and mostly dark greenway, than riding on the street with Police officers looking for whoever matches a description.” A Brief History of Seven Killings author Marlon James writes on Facebook (?) about being big, close, and black in the U S of A. Pair with Kaulie Lewis on reading James’s The Book of Night Women during her senior year.
Shall I compare thee to a wormhole? No, this essay on astrophysics and poetry coupled with a poem for Stephen Hawking is most definitely more lovely. Kalpana Narayanan wrote an essay for The Millions on physics, grief, and Paul Murray’s Skippy Dies that may pique your interest.
For the most part, Alexis de Tocqueville had good things to say about the young United States in his book Democracy in America, which is probably why we tend to forget that he thought Americans weren’t funny. What de Tocqueville missed, according to a new history of American humor, is the extent to which American funniness emerged from subversive groups of outsiders. In Bookforum, Ben Schwartz takes stock of the arguments in American Fun.
“According to David Means and his debut novel, Hystopia, [classic war novels] aren’t simply about confronting the horrors of war, but also about concealing them, hiding them under a layer of rationalizations and wishful thinking that often simplifies their lawless anarchy and finds sense, meaning and purpose where there’s little.” Over at Electric Lit, Simon Chandler reviews David Means’s Hystopia.
Recommended Viewing: This installment of The Paris Review’s “My First Time” series, in which poet Ben Lerner remembers “working under the sign of crisis” and attempting to find a publisher for his first book, The Lichtenberg Figures. A couple of Lerner-related pieces from The Millions: a review of his newest novel, 10:04, and a Year in Reading from back in 2014.