Digest, 4/23/2023: Just Break Up with the Clintons Already
the eighty-eighth digest post
If you missed it, here’s my piece for New York on the myth of the practical major.
This Week’s Posts
Monday, April 17th - A Conversation About Crime
Very real issues about crime explored in a jokey faux-dialogue because I’m sick to death of the paucity of seriousness in the conversation so why be serious myself?
Wednesday, April 19th - Most People Aren’t Funny
And that’s OK!
Friday, April 21st - Yes, We Have to Deal with the World as It Really Is - All of Us, All of It (inadvertently not subscriber-only because I’m a dumbass)
You can’t shield people from reality, not on a long enough timescale, not with anti-LGBTQ book bans, not with trigger warnings.
From the Archives
Song of the Week
Just to reach you! Just to reach you! Oh, and I will reach you, ohhhhhh
Non-Garbage Online Reading
It takes some guts to dive back into the “I went on a cruise ship and boy did I not have a good time” genre, in upper-middle-brow essay writing, but Lauren Oyler’s recent venture in Harper’s is funny and deft. Afraid I can’t get you past the paywall.
Of Boys and Men, Richard Reeves, 2022
This is a qualified recommendation, as this book is one of a particular kind of nonfiction book that can be both useful and boring - the one big thing book. These are books where the author essentially has one main argument to make and keeps making it over the course of the text, assembling evidence to buttress a single point. These books can be informative and at times entertaining, but can develop a deadening quality over time. (I have great admiration for Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century but by the end of reading it I was holding on for dear life.) Of Boys and Men is that kind of book, mostly, but it has the advantage of being the right length and of moving at a good pace. The basic point, that it’s now men who require (in effect if not in name) affirmative action, is convincing and important, though always attenuated by ongoing domination of many elite spaces by men. Can’t say the solutions chapter is particularly plausible, but the idea of starting boys in school a year later has real merit.
Comment of the Week
My YA novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, is one of the most challenged and banned books of the last 20 years. According to the American Library Association, my novel was the most banned and challenged book in the United States in the decade 2010-2019. So I have more personal experience with the right wing's vilification of books and writers than just about everybody. But I'm also highly aware of the way the left censors and silences writers. And a lot of this silencing and censoring happens before a book is even published, with sensitivity readers who demand changes based on ever-shifting moral standards and definitions of "triggers" and, more dangerously, by creating an environment where writers silence and censor themselves because they fear professional and personal excommunication. As I've written elsewhere, the right wing are censorship vikings and the left wing are censorship ninjas. -Sherman Alexie
JUST TO REACH YOU! JUST TO REACH YOU!