“There tends to be this idea that every piece and every assignment and every gig is always something speaking from the soul. We think that about great writers, that they’re incapable of doing hackwork.” The Rumpus interviewed Michelle Dean about women writers, the research process, and her forthcoming book, Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion. Pair with: Dean’s 2016 Year in Reading entry.
Curious to know what the new Most Irritating Word is? Not many people agree on the number one offender, but for a while a top choice was “literally,” which evolved so much over the past few decades that the Oxford English Dictionary revised its official definition. At Slate, Katy Waldman proposed that we give the title to “amazeballs.” Now, in The New Republic, Judith Shulevitz makes the case for “disruptive,” the scourge of the tech world.
Still deciding what to do this Friday night? Watch PBS’s new documentary on Alice Walker, Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth, at 9 p.m. EST. At The Daily Beast, Agunda Okeyo discusses the history of the film’s production, which took six years. “Stories about women of color told by women of color are sidelined and neglected in favor of our stories being told by white women and men,” director Pratibha Parmar says.
The New York Times gives Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Taylor Branch a well-deserved profile. I’ve mentioned before that his take down of the NCAA’s corruption is astounding, but now’s a good time to mention that his e-book, The Cartel: Inside the Rise and Imminent Fall of the NCAA, is even better. Branch also appeared on Wednesday night’s “Colbert Report” to discuss the book.
There was an interesting piece on the intangible economics of fine art in this weekend’s NYT Magazine that explains the difference between the markets for art and other luxury goods (like gold and property): “Because the art market isn’t regulated like financial securities, insider dealing is generally not illegal.”
You should check out George Saunders’s “Liner Notes” piece about “2776: A Musical Journey Through America’s Past, Present & Future,” which is set to accompany a forthcoming musical-comedy album from Patton Oswalt, Aubrey Plaza, Ira Glass, and Yo La Tengo, among others. If that hasn’t sold you, consider the fact that Saunders’s piece contains this line: “Truth be told, there were a number of regrettable omissions. Beyoncé and Jay Z’s piece ‘Bomber’ had to be left off the album. (‘Driver of this plane, this / B-52 on the way to Nagasaki / Stuff your ears with cotton and / Close those eyes / Me and my man are about to do it all over this / Here bomb’).”
“‘I want to meet POETS,’ I typed. Beneath my earnest headline, I described how I yearned for a workshop buddy who wrote contemporary verse, someone who wasn’t afraid to give and accept feedback. I also asked for a sample poem, just to weed out the people I didn’t jive with stylistically.” On forging friendships with poets from Denise K. James at The Rumpus.