What happens when one of the “Big Three” science fiction writers decides to take on the most widely-read book in the world? Over at Open Culture, Josh Jones takes a look at Isaac Asimov‘s “fun, chatty, non-academic” exploration of The Bible. “[Asimov] explains that while humans are inherently irrational creatures, he nonetheless felt a duty ‘to be a skeptic, to insist on evidence, to want things to make sense,’” Jones writes. “Part of that duty, for Asimov, included making the Bible make sense for those who appreciate how deeply embedded it is in world culture and history, but who may not be interested in just taking it on faith.”
Meanwhile, in the commonwealth of Virginia, HB 516 is currently sailing through state legislature. What began as one mother’s outraged response to her 17-year-old son’s AP English assignment–reading Beloved by Toni Morrison–has morphed into a bill which would require school districts to do three things: flag any “sexually explicit” assigned material, allow parents to review all assigned readings to assess perceived levels of sexual explicitness, and finally, require teachers to provide alternate readings/avenues of study for any students whose parents deem particular content too inappropriate.
Jonathan Franzen’s Kraus Project should be “a match made in heaven,” writes Jacob Mikanowski, because of how it pairs together “the old hater [Karl Kraus] and the new [Franzen], the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid of cultural criticism drawn together across the gulf of a century to take on all comers.” Alas, the end result is instead a “strange and rather discordant experience, like receiving a deep tissue massage while being spat on from a great height.” (Bonus: One of the best London Review of Books openers of all time.)