At the New York Times, Lovia Gyarkye revisits the work of Louise Meriwether, whose 1970 novel, Daddy Was a Number Runner, offered a nuanced portrait of African American life during the Great Depression. “More than 50 years later,” Gyarkye writes, “the themes Meriwether explored in her bracing coming-of-age novel have never been more relevant or radical. And the way she navigated her art and career can offer lessons too, especially to Black artists eager to balance their creative ambition with their commitments to community.”
Out this week: M Train by Patti Smith; Mothers, Tell Your Daughters: Stories by Bonnie Jo Campbell; 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories edited by Lorrie Moore; The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks; The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra; Death by Water by Kenzaburō Ōe; and Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories by Audrey Niffenegger. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
“Thus it is our [feminists’] historical task … to define what we call oppression in materialist terms, to make it evident that women are a class, which is to say that the category ‘woman’ as well as the category ‘man’ are political and economic categories, not eternal ones.” This essay in remembrance of Alexis Arquette touches on everything from VIP guest lists to feminist theorist Monique Wittig.
The Atlantic interviews Erin Gruwell, a teacher whose methods for teaching her students about prejudice became the basis of a book (and subsequent movie) called The Freedom Writers. Named after a group of bus-riding civil rights activists, the students in her classes wrote lengthy journal entries — many of them relating to their own personal traumas — in order to compare them with diaries by historical figures. Writing journals, Gruwell says, helped her students learn to like schoolwork.
“It’s somewhat surprising that typos and grammatical errors hold this much power given the speed and frequency of written communication that characterizes the digital age. Despite our ‘sent from my iPhone’ disclaimers, it appears we should still be diligent about avoiding written mistakes. Especially if were writing to a conscientious introvert whose not very agreeable. Their the wrst.” On proving something that we all suspected to be true: less agreeable people care the most about grammar.