“On January 14, 2017, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus—America’s oldest and best circus, America’s last true touring circus—announced that it was closing, and six days later the country mourned, with an exit parade, a grand-finale funeral: the inauguration of Donald J. Trump.” Year-in-Reading alum Joshua Cohen, whose Book of Numbers spent seven months on our top-10 list back in 2015, and whose new novel Moving Kings made our most-anticipated list for the latter half of this year, reflects on the end of an era for The Point.
Can the art of teaching art actually be exhibited? A new exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston about the one-time Asheville, NC institution Black Mountain College asks just such questions. Black Mountain College was a controversial, short-lived bastion of free-thought and artistic expression which hosted such figures as Josef Albers, John Cage, and Robert Creeley from 1933 to 1957.
“Our literary culture has distended and warped by focusing so much power in a singular place, by crowding the gatekeepers into a small ditch of commerce. A review in the Times trumps everything else. You can’t tell me that this doesn’t affect what is, finally, bound into books, marketed, and sold. Which designates what can be said and how one says it. Why do we cede American letters to a handful of corporations that exist on a single concrete patch?” This piece by Matthew Neill Null at The Literary Hub raises a lot of extremely important questions about what gets published and why.
At Salon, Kyle Minor listens to an audiobook recording of Joan Didion’s Salvador and finds that it remains “immediately relevant to a new reader whose memory of its context is more the kind of memory that arises from having read books about history than one that arises from having been old enough in 1983 to understand the meaning of phrases such as death squad, or body count, or mechanism of terror.”