Shannon Watts was in college when the massacre at Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, TX occurred. She was a young mother with small children at the time of Columbine. A slightly older mother when Virginia Tech happened. And the Gabby Giffords shooting. And Sandy Hook. And El Paso. For the L.A. Review of Books, a conversation on gun violence, “thoughts and prayers,” and Watts’s new book Fight Like a Mother, which chronicles the founding of grassroots action network Moms Demand Action. “An experience I’ve had over and over is waking up to the news of a horrific shooting tragedy in this country and then my day is done. … Similar to secondhand smoke, in this country, we have secondhand trauma from gun violence because it is so ever-present.”
James Tate Hill shares his experiences as a writer who cannot read. “When I say I can’t read, I’m not referring to illiteracy, but to the large blind spots in my central field of vision that put an end to my unremarkable driving career a few months after my 16th birthday.”
The Morning News Tournament of Books is around the corner (less than two weeks away, in fact) and readers can now download the bracket (pdf), print it out, and start scribbling in their picks. Along with the bracket, Andrew Seal offers up an array of intriguing statistics from past tournaments. So, now that you can make an educated guess, Who do you think is going to win this year?
We cover a decent number of literary awards here at The Millions, but we, like most magazines, have a tendency to focus on the present. At the LARB, Andrew Nicholls makes up for this by recounting the very first book awards, in which Mooluu’s “The Beast Attacked” goes head-to-head with Kurtan the Elder’s “Why Half My Face is Missing.” You could also read our own Mark O’Connell on why we care about literary prizes to begin with.
Doubleday pulled a Beyonce and published Colson Whitehead’s latest book, The Underground Railroad, a month early. Oprah chose Whitehead’s book for her book club, and Doubleday “secretly started shipping out 200,000 copies in anticipation of the announcement.” You can also read a review from Michiko Kakutani at the New York Times.
How was Charlotte Brontë at 8? According to her school reports, she “‘[wrote] indifferently’ and ‘[knew] nothing of grammar, geography, history, or accomplishments”. Of course, she went on to write Jane Eyre, and as The Guardian points out, many a famous writer received middling reports in school, so maybe there’s hope for other “indifferent’ writers.