Out this week: What Are We Doing Here? by Marilynne Robinson; The Rending and the Nest by Kaethe Schwehn; All the Names They Used for God by Anjali Sachdeva; Educated by Tara Westover; and The Undressing by Li-Young Lee.
A controversial new book art exhibit is set to open at the Mansfield Library of the University of Montana on January 7th. The show, “Speaking Volumes: Transforming Hate,” comprises works by 100 artists all of which are made out 4000 books published by a white supremacist organization, The Church of the Creator, and sold to the Montana Human Rights Network by a disaffected member. Read the strange story of the genesis of the exhibition and see some of the works here.
Elissa Schappell thinks writers need to stop whining. “Writers seem to think that by virtue of intellect or sensitivity that we suffer more than others, that the work we do is more necessary than other work. This idea is not only ridiculous, it’s shameful,” she wrote after 2paragraphs asked her “What Do You Like Least About Being A Writer?” Pair with: our interview with her earlier this year.
The unwritten rules of steampunk declare that in every steampunk story, the Hindenburg never caught fire, the world never lost its desire for blimp travel and the skies are dotted with hot air balloons and zeppelins. As it happens, this element of the genre stems from old utopian narratives, many of which depicted a future of widespread balloon travel. At Salon, Kyle Minor reviews the audiobook of a new history of the hot air balloon, written by Richard Holmes, that shows how the rise of air travel changed the world’s imaginative territory.
The Virginia Quarterly Review launched their redesigned website this week, and it’s a sight to behold. To celebrate the occasion, the magazine has dropped its paywall through Valentine’s Day, so start exploring. I recommend starting with Kevin Young’s recent poem, “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” which he composed entirely out of song lyrics.
In Florida, legislators are wondering whether or not they should raise tuition costs for students studying the humanities, or really anything other than STEM fields. Likewise, James Dyson (yes, the vacuum guy) bemoans Britain’s abundance of “students choosing to read humanities at university.” As a rejoinder, one New Statesman blogger notes that the study of humanities does not inhibit technological innovation, and that as a bonus, “we gain from having people who reshape our cultural landscape and put things in new contexts.”