clock menu more-arrow no yes

As police crack down on Standing Rock protesters, maybe read some books by indigenous authors

Protests Continue At Standing Rock Sioux Reservation Over Dakota Pipeline Access Project Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Welcome back to our weekly book link roundup! We took last week off for Thanksgiving, but now we’re back and ready to kick off December with a collection of this week’s best writing on books and related subjects.

I also wanted my poetry to champion the femme, the elaborate, the playful, the serifed, the feathered, the self-consciously involute, the magenta and the chartreuse, even the ornamental: ruffles, dessert. I wanted that poetry, and other contemporary poetry too, to take pleasure in small things, and to push back against a patriarchal, instrumental, coarse, results-first, adult-driven, queer- and transphobic capitalism.

Turn the covers—as Umberto Eco once did; it was the only book in the Beinecke’s famous collection that he cared to see—and you are greeted by writing in brown ink accompanied by strange diagrams and paintings of plants. The writing will not be decipherable to you. The book was made in the ordinary medieval way, but the script—the form of its letters, the language itself—was apparently invented by whoever made it. Some call the language and its script “Voynichese.” The letters loop prettily, and the text runs from left to right, top to bottom.

The ghostwriter herself was an older Jewish woman, probably in her mid-to-late seventies, extremely energetic and full of love. She typically wore crushed velvet track suits, zipped to a modest height, and had a huge smile. Her whole body shook as she typed, which she did furiously, with two fingers. You could hear the keystrokes down the hall. Her emails, which she sent at the speed of conversation, were often in all caps and always full of misspellings. It felt like being shouted at by someone with a thick accent, although she rarely meant it like that. All she meant was she didn’t give a shit about turning caps lock off.

Happy reading!

Sign up for the newsletter The Weeds

Understand how policy impacts people. Delivered Fridays.