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.”
“I remembered Def Leppard for their one-armed drummer arrested for spousal abuse. Meanwhile Prince played, like, twenty different instruments while having sex in the backseat of taxicabs, ducking the Antichrist, and shouting for gun control. Also: girlfriend on drums. What’s fair is fair.” The Prince-related thinkpieces have mostly subsided by now, but this new piece by Dave Tompkins at The Paris Review will make you glad that people are continuing to write about him.
“Riordan’s books prompt an uneasy interrogation of the premise underlying the ‘so long as they’re reading’ side of the debate—at least among those of us who want to share Neil Gaiman’s optimistic view that all reading is good reading, and yet find ourselves by disposition closer to the Tim Parks end of the spectrum, worried that those books on our children’s shelves that offer easy gratification are crowding out the different pleasures that may be offered by less grabby volumes.” In an essay for The New Yorker, Rebecca Mead considers questions about what children should be reading through the lens of the Percy Jackson series.
New this week: Karen Russell’s new collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove; buzzed-about thriller The Dinner by Herman Koch; Harvest by Jim Crace; Fight Song by Joshua Mohr; the final novel of the late Maeve Binchy, A Week in Winter; Tara Conklin’s debut The House Girl; and James Lasdun’s non-fiction Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked.
Eric Harvey presents The Social History of the MP3 at Pitchfork: “So omnipresent have these discussions become, in fact, that it’s possible the past 10 years could become the first decade of pop music to be remembered by history for its musical technology rather than the actual music itself.”