At the Guardian, Hanif Abdurraqib discusses his new essay collection, A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance, a celebration of Black culture through the lens of artists like Josephine Baker, Beyoncé, Whitney Houston, and more. “People have an idea of what a writer is and how someone becomes a writer,” Abdurraqib says, “but you know, I was someone who struggled to not only understand the world but also struggled to fit into the world, and through those struggles often felt very on the outside. I used writing to get to the heart of why I felt that way. I do think that it is miraculous that I am here talking about something that I wrote because for so long writing was a way for me to survive, not in a financial sense, but to survive a world that I felt I was not made for.”
The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations attracted two notable literary figures this weekend. Author and activist Naomi Klein (The Shock Doctrine) addressed protestors. Here’s the longer, uncut version of her speech. On Sunday, Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek (Living in the End Times) gave an address as well.
Among the raft of news stories that came out about Facebook recently, you may have missed the company’s quiet revolution in grammar, signified by its adoption of the much-debated singular “they.” If thinking about this change makes you queasy, just remember that singular “they” has been around since the days of Chaucer. (Related: Fiona Maazel on bad grammar.)
“I can locate the remnants of two or three abandoned cars that haven’t moved in a year, a couple of defunct pay phones, several tire piles, and at least one trashed couch that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.” Rob Walker on playing Pokémon Go in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward.
“The Laughing Monsters is, ultimately, about reality, myth, and outright lies. Johnson has always been interested in those moments when the thin skin of the world breaks and we are ushered, unprepared, into another realm.” Stav Sherez reviews Denis Johnson‘s The Laughing Monsters (which we listed in our Second-Half 2014 book preview) and considers the modern spy thriller for the Los Angeles Review of Books.