Pandemic literature has been around for centuries, with one of the most popular being Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron. At Electric Literature, Elyse Martin examines how this collection of “medieval Italian sex stories” shows that storytelling is integral to our survival. “The rigid structure of the work—ten characters tell ten stories for ten days—seems at odds both with the chaotic setting of the plague and with the content of the tales,” Martin writes, “where characters tumble from fortune to misfortune to fortune again, with each spin of Fortune’s wheel. But this strict structure is intentional. Just as Boccaccio most likely wrote these tales as a way to understand and also escape the plague, so do his ten storytellers embrace this structure as an escape from the now ordinary chaos of their lives.”
Guernica’s latest issue is devoted to the American South. As the issue’s introduction states, “The American South is at once a geographical distinction and a bright spot in the imagination, where burden vies with birthright, and where ignorance and renaissance exist side by side.” The issue features a Kiese Laymon essay on inequality and language, Ed Winstead on the Southern accent in writing, an interview with Jesmyn Ward, fiction, and more.
Is this image of John McEnroe a great visual complement to John McWhorter’s review of Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years, or is it the greatest visual complement to John McWhorter’s review of Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years?
“Think the kennel partner was a man? Think he was, in Braverman’s telling, threatened by her success? You are correct. There are so many stories like this, in Double Bind, of ambition built up and then put in its place: the high school classmate who sneered to Roxane Gay, when he learned that she’d been accepted to Yale when he had not, ‘affirmative action.'”
We thought we had a better chance of seeing Odin than Neil Gaiman’s American Gods on TV, but after the HBO deal fell through, the novel is finally being adapted for the small screen by FremantleMedia. Bonus: Gaiman’s Anansi Boys is also being adapted into a BBC miniseries by RED. To brush up on Gaiman’s interest in mythology, read our review of The Ocean at the End of the Lane.