Welcome back to the Vox book link roundup, where we curate the week’s best writing on books and related subjects. Below is the best the internet has to offer for the week of February 26, 2017.
- Alert, alert, alert, Zadie Smith has published a new short story in the New Yorker:
Well, you certainly don’t go out anyplace less than dressed, not these days. Can’t let anybody mistake you for that broken, misused little girl: Eleanora Fagan. No. Let there be no confusion. Not in the audience or in your old man, in the maître d’ or the floor manager, the cops or the goddam agents of the goddam I.R.S. You always have your fur, present and correct, hanging off your shoulders just so. Take back your mink, take back your pearls. But you don’t sing that song, it’s not in your key. Let some other girl sing it.
- Barry Jenkins, the director of the newly crowned Oscars Best Picture winner Moonlight, will be directing a limited series based on Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad, the consensus pick for the most important book of 2016.
- At LitHub, Erika W. Smith writes in defense of fiction’s maligned bossy older sisters:
There are so many rule-following, annoyingly-perfect, bossy older sisters in classic children’s literature, and — precisely because the reader is supposed to root against them in favor of the plucky, rule-breaking younger sister — I want to defend them all.
- And also at LitHub, Cornel West and Christopher Lydon discuss why we need James Baldwin now:
So, the beauty of the language, the vitality of the language — just like in the music — is a way of sustaining selves that are in the process of being crushed, demeaned, devalued, dominated, exploited, subjugated and so forth, and so, Baldwin does understand that life is a battlefield. Baldwin’s got that fusion of Athens and Jerusalem that is magnificent but is rooted in gutbucket blues, catastrophe and the lyricism as weaponry. Against what’s coming at him, you see.
- At the New Republic, Josephine Livingstone talks about why we still need cultural criticism that is not about Donald Trump, even in the age of Trump:
It’s as if a zone is staked out for a variety of ideas and postures to flex and interact. This zone is the place where the arts play. It is not an apolitical place, it is just not owned by government. In this aesthetic space, the arts explore a less confined politics than the one that controls the state. The state is not the beginning, end, or the reason for this space.
- Here is an extremely envy-inducing video of Umberto Eco’s private library.
- In Publishers Weekly, the New York Times explains how and why it’s changing its book coverage.
- Six hundred years ago, a medieval mystic wrote a recipe in the back of her memoirs that has long been considered indecipherable. Now a medievalist has used thermal imaging to figure it out.
- Grindr has appointed its first poet-in-residence:
Poetry and sex have a long and venerable history, one often being used in the service of setting up the other. Catullus kicked things off, and Lord Byron, Sharon Olds and Carol Ann Duffy, among others, have run with the ball since. The work of those poets is perhaps best thought of as the context for what I am doing now.