At the Guardian, biographer Fiona Sampson, author of Two Way Mirror, reflects on the life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, whose forced isolation due to respiratory illness led her to find an escape through writing — a respite we can find relatable during this pandemic. “She escaped via paper rather than a screen, of course; but her grasp of self-invention through a kind of ‘second life’ reminded me of all the friendships we were suddenly reconfiguring on Zoom,” Sampson writes. “I also realised how closely her practice prefigured today’s digital communicators: not just the teenagers and geeks, bloggers and TikTok stars, but citizen journalists, activists and those policed by authoritarian regimes too.”
Barry Ritholtz, the godfather of financial blogging (and not your typical Occupy Wall Street protester) calls the U.S. a “corporate monarchy” and wonders “Why have the Europeans figured out they are getting screwed, and we haven’t?“
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.)
If you haven’t already, meet Coeur de Pirate, the beautiful and charming Quebec singer-songwriter Béatrice Martin. Her sound’s somewhere between Françoise Hardy and Icelandic band Seabear. Here’s the video for “Comme des Enfants” and here’s a fan-made video for “Printemps” (my favorite C de P song).
James Baldwin was more famous for being an essayist and novelist, but he was also a film critic. At The Atlantic, Noah Berlatsky argues that Baldwin should be considered one of the best film critics for The Devil Finds Work. “Baldwin shows that criticism is art, which means that it doesn’t need a purpose or a rationale other than truth, or beauty, or keeping faith, or doing whatever it is we think art is trying to do.” For more on Baldwin, read our essay on his epiphanies.
Are you on Pinterest? If so, you may be interested in Alice Northover’s round-up of university presses and university libraries that use the site.
Year in Reading alumna Sarah Manguso writes about motherhood, writing, and the disintegration of the self in a moving essay for Harper’s. As she puts it, “I want to read books that were written in desperation, by people who are disturbed and overtaxed, who balance on the extreme edge of experience. I want to read books by people who are acutely aware that death is coming and that abiding love is our last resort.” Pair with Jaime Green’s Millions review of Manguso’s Ongoingness: The End of a Diary.