At the Paris Review, Courtney Zoffness discusses her book, Spilt Milk, with Lynn Steger Strong, and how writing it was an exercise in embracing uncertainty. “Endings are so deceptive,” Zoffness says. “That final period gives the illusion of resolution or conclusion when my thoughts and feelings on nearly every subject and experience in Spilt Milk remain unresolved. I think that one of the aims of an essay is to ask questions, not necessarily answer them, and I try to embed this spirit of inquiry in each piece, to be transparent about my own internal conflicts or uncertainty along the way—whether over parental choices or astrology or my feelings about other people. I want to show messiness. This approach hopefully trains readers not to expect a resolution, but it can also make it harder for me to discern the right endnote. Several of these endings gelled through trial and error.”
“Through such experiments, [he] seems preoccupied by the need to make this familiar form something different from what we think it is, so that it can more capably capture a reality that has fast been veering into the unreal. It’s not just that the world outside the novel has made this jump, but also that we cannot evade the world’s strangeness when the storytellers, and the characters into which they breathe life, increasingly come from such different perspectives.” On Year in Reading alum Chang-rae Lee’s new novel (which you can buy with a nifty 3D book cover).
Millions staff writer Michael Bourne wrote a sobering piece for Canada’s Globe and Mail about the need for stricter gun control in the United States. “I can implore my new neighbours to maintain strict controls on guns,” he writes. “All our children’s lives depend upon it.”
In 1970, a journalist named Joseph Epstein wrote an essay for Harper’s that came to a frightening conclusion: that Epstein would, if possible, “wish homosexuality off the face of the Earth.” The incendiary language inspired Merle Miller, a former editor at the magazine, to publish a call-to-arms, “What It Means to Be a Homosexual,” that became the basis of the book On Being Different. Emily Greenhouse puts the essay in context at Page-Turner.
“She gathered books to display for attendees and discovered that inside the cover of one, ‘The Koran for Dummies,’ someone had written “lies cover to cover,” drawn a swastika and made a disparaging remark about the Prophet Muhammad.” The president of the American Library Association reports “startling increases” in 2016 of vandalism, including hateful messages, at libraries. The Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has begun formally tracking such incidents to determine whether the increase is “a blip or a trend.”
“I am very fortunate to be involved in a number of supportive communities who rally when things like this happen – but rarely do I laugh quite as hard as I did when reading Avid Reader’s responses.” The Guardian has the uplifting story of how an independent Australian bookstore “took on anti-feminist trolls and won.” If for some reason, after reading that, you want to wade into an equally polarized comments section, scroll down to the conversation following Daniel Jose Ruiz‘s recent piece on geekdom and race.