“[S]ometimes, one of the best ways to better understand racism is to just pick up a book.” As part of a recent tweet about his availability for racial consultation, Colson Whitehead recommended an evergreen Huffington Post piece entitled “16 Books About Race That Every White Person Should Read“, a list that includes Claudia Rankine‘s Citizen, T. Geronimo Johnson‘s Welcome to Braggsville, and The Sellout by Paul Beatty, which we reviewed here. We hope he’s collecting referral fees.
“An easel stood just inside the big glass doorway when I entered the store. On it leaned my author photo, the one from the back cover of Domestic Violets, and it was fucking enormous. It was the size of a photo you’d expect to see if Bono had been appearing at Barnes & Noble, Bill Clinton maybe, or perhaps the Reverend Desmund Tutu. For a full 30 seconds I stood there and looked at the gigantic, painstakingly airbrushed picture of myself. An elderly couple walked in and did a double take when they saw a stunned-looking me looking at me. ‘It’s too big,’ I told them.” This is what you do when no one shows up to your reading.
“The concept that being American means, by definition, having an ideal that you’ve failed to live up to—that’s another crucial thing I learned from [James Alan] McPherson. It is not a rejection of America for Michelle Obama to note that her daughters are growing up in a house built by slaves. Or a rejection of a white writer to point out that Fitzgerald was a racist. Instead, it is American to admit those facts and to find in that admission a way forward.” On American values, Barack Obama, and the legacy of James Alan McPherson over at The Literary Hub.
Jenny Diski‘s personal take on Roman Polanski and rape, at the London Review of Books.