Last Week's Links

Literary Links

S.A. Cosby on the Conversation Around Policing in America—And Why It Needs to Change

S.A. Cosby describes the event, when he was 16, that taught him “this man who had barely graduated from high school, who still came to football games and hit on the cheerleaders, who expected and received free coffee and donuts at every gas station in town, who had, at best, six weeks of training held my life in his trembling adrenalized hands.”

This is an excerpt from Cosby’s foreword to the recently published Under the Thumb: Stories of Police Oppression, which he edited.

American Rerun

“On police procedurals, Latasha Harlins, and white subterfuge.”

A moving article about the ways the television crime show view of the relationship between police and people of color saturates our culture. By Hafizah Geter, a Nigerian American poet and writer now living in Brooklyn.

How Social Upheaval Gave Rise to the Picaresque Novel

Sixteenth-century Spain saw the birth of a literary genre known today as the picaresque novel. Its protagonist—the pícaro—could be described as a lowly, itinerant rogue who survives in a corrupt society by way of clever, often criminal acts. His emergence begs the question: How did the arcadian shepherd and chivalric knight-errant, until then centuries-old fixtures of European literature, give way to this witty rascal?

The Joy of Reading Slowly

“I have become a far better reader over the last year and a half because of learning how to read more slowly,” novelist Laura Spence-Ash writes. “I would also like to believe that my writing has improved by reading at this pace.” She extols the ability to “consider how the story works and what decisions were made that make it so satisfying” as well as the pleasure of rereading slowly enough to appreciate “the pleasure of how the small moments accrue to create the whole.” 

The easy reading hack that completely changed my day

Indira Birnie acknowledges a problem that a lot of us share: the pandemic seriously knocked her off her reading game. In an effort to fight off ennui and regain her reading mojo, she developed a new habit: reaching for a book first thing in the morning, before even getting out of bed, instead of for her phone.

Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition review: The upgrade is worth the money

I’ve had a Kindle Paperwhite for several years and love it. I did not know that there is now an upgraded version. Here Stan Schroeder, for Mashable, reviews the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition.

What Happened to Amazon’s Bookstore?

“A 2011 thriller was supposed to cost $15. One merchant listed it at $987, with a 17th-century publication date. That’s what happens in a marketplace where third-party sellers run wild.”

“Amazon started as a bookstore, but it’s now a marketplace — an e-commerce bucket that any seller can put their stuff into,” said Jane Friedman, a publishing industry consultant. “The result is that the shopping experience has really gotten worse over time.”

200 Books That Shaped 200 Years of Literature

After considering questions such as “How much do we consider the character of an author, and how do we contend with books whose impact is undeniable but perhaps not for the best?” and “How do we draw the line between ‘influential’ and ‘popular?”, the Center for Fiction has released this list:

The resulting 200 books shifted what types of fiction got read and written, launched or served as turning points for particular genres, opened the doors for whose work could be published, changed the rules of what we could write about and how we could write about it, inspired feverish searches for “the next” of their kind, or affected societal change far beyond the world of literature.

Rereading Alice Sebold’s Lucky

I have resisted featuring this news story. I included Lucky on my list of best books read in 2003.

Here Sarah Weinman, an author and the crime columnist for the New York Times Book Review, examines the case and concludes:

That Sebold apologized in her statement, and Broadwater accepted the apology, is a start. But if Lucky is to remain true to its aim of finding broader meaning in a singular story, then any new version has to consider that Broadwater’s wrongful conviction stands in for thousands of others, and that Sebold’s 40-year certainty that she identified the correct man also stands in for the dangers of believing oneself to be a reliable narrator in a system designed to reward white women’s tears.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

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