I’ll be honest: this may not, probably will not, happen every week on Wednesdays. But I’m real busy at work today, and feeling lazy and under-caffeinated, and so today seems like a good day to start this. Plus, I’ve really enjoyed a few Internet articles over the past week (or so, since, you know, this is the first week), and now seems a good a time as any to get started. So, I present you with this week’s recommended reading:
by Nathan Goldman
Becoming this other golem—the golem animated, in affirmation of difference, to fight back—can provide power, moral direction, and an imperative to act. But this golem has its limits. Rage is powerful. It’s often useful, even necessary. But it’s not the only affect necessary for change. This is clear in many versions of the golem legend, including Wegener’s film, in which the golem turns on the Jews and must be subdued. This kind of rage, deployed as self-defense, won’t help us to stand with those more vulnerable than ourselves. We need a golem of richer possibility—a golem of solidarity.
This tied in nicely with the end of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, which I finished this week, and which I intend to write about soon. Also the essay was just generally great.
by Kaitlyn Tiffany
You’re pretty well known on Twitter for the “fights” you pick with other publishing houses. Can you tell me whose idea that was, how it started? DJ: Which one? We pick fights with so many people. We’re very crotchety over here. We’ve had some epic ones with HarperCollins. The HarperCollins logo, nobody could ever figure out what it is. We called it Olive, we just started referring to HarperCollins as “Olive,” and I see everybody does that now. We won that war on Twitter. We had a big one with Random House, that got a lot of press. We won “Argument of the Year,” I think. That’s something I’ve wanted my whole life! I’ve wanted to be in the argument of the year.
I’ve been a fan of this publishing group for a while (mostly via the novella thing that they mentioned, plus they were really cool with me asking them a bunch of really dumb questions at AWP one year when I was a bright-eyed undergraduate), and I want to be friends with them and/or go work there someday. That’d be cool.
by Abbey Fenbert
Here’s what I meant to tell my mom: “Fellow book-lover, I understand this is a provocative novel, and that I am, in fact, in the Advanced Language Arts Group—a great responsibility for a seventh-grader. I appreciate the opportunity to read challenging works! (We all remember the Jimmy Spoon and the Pony Express debacle.) However, you may have noticed that my peers have recently entered puberty, the unending bloodsport of preempting one’s own humiliation by humiliating others. The teachers have made it clear that ‘boys will be boys,’ so I don’t necessarily trust them to cultivate a learning environment that serves these complex vocabularies. Do you see my concern?”
This was great on so many levels. I’ve struggled with the idea of censorship for a long time (I am, after all, a recovering Platonist, in some respects), and this essay was a great, novel (to me) exploration of it.
by Christian Lorentzen
What will we mean when someday we refer to Obama Lit? I think we’ll be discussing novels about authenticity, or about “problems of authenticity.” What does that mean? After the Bush years, sheer knowingness and artifice that called attention to itself had come to seem flimsy foundations for the novel. Authenticity succeeded storytelling abundance as the prime value of fiction, which meant that artifice now required plausible deniability. The new problems for the novelist became, therefore, how to be authentic (or how to create an authentic character) and how to achieve “authenticity effects” (or how to make artifice seem as true or truer than the real).
This is an oldie but a goodie, and because this is the first of these, I feel entitled to include it.
by the Oatmeal
Just read it.