Listicles, tweets, your ex’s Facebook status, picture of dogs wearing costumes — the internet offers no shortage of entertaining stuff to look at. But there’s plenty of substantial writing out there, too, the pieces you spend a few minutes reading and a long time thinking about after you’ve closed the tab. In this weekly feature, Flavorwire shares the best of that category. Today’s inaugural edition includes Michelle Orange on the state of political satire, John Jeremiah Sullivan on Junior Braithwaite, and former Gawker writer Cord Jefferson saying goodbye to all that internet.
Cord Jefferson says goodbye to all that internet writing: “How To Bust Out Of Blogging Into The Magical World Of Television,” The Awl
Jefferson talks to Matthew J.X. Malady about leaving his position at Gawker to write for a television show. It’s sort of a going-into-the-sunset piece, but Jefferson touches on some bigger topics like how “[t]hinking and writing about a new black person being murdered by a racist or arrested by a bad cop every other week can start to wear on your psyche.” He also advises readers to “[w]ork really hard on things that make you feel happy and proud,” and ends with (what else?) a smarm crack. Perhaps I shouldn’t call it a “Goodbye to All That” piece for the internet, but Jefferson does look back on his time at Gawker with fondness, while also seeming really thankful that he can move on.
The state of British and American political satires: “Political Theaters” by Michelle Orange, The Nation
Have I mentioned before that I’d read Michelle Orange’s thoughts on any subject? The author of one of my favorite nonfiction books of last year takes a long look at what the massive popularity of everything from The Daily Show to House of Cards says about both American and British disillusionment with politics.
Answering the phones after a disaster: “Aftermath” by Jaime Green, The Rumpus
Jaime Green writes about being on the front lines of disaster aid without actually setting foot in the disaster area, by answering phones to take donations after a massive earthquake devastated Haiti in early 2010. “The calls were so strange that I started taking notes, recording scraps of this world in which I’d unexpectedly found myself, wanting to save each ephemeral token of humanity,” Green writes. The piece is a commentary on both people’s willingness to give to others and the tunnel vision we sometimes suffer from when it comes to realizing people are suffering all over the globe, something Green herself admits to when she says that if it wasn’t for the job, she would have probably moved on to the next disaster as well.
Letters to the editor that never got sent: “Unpublished Letter to the New York Times by Kate Zambreno,” The Believer Logger
Here we are, in 2014, and somebody still has to ask, “Why do works of literature written by women writers have to always be funny and upbeat?” Zambreno writes about Michiko Kakutani’s Times review of Jenny Offill’s novel, Department of Speculation, which Zambreno denounces as “mired in a stagnant, boring gender bias in contemporary publishing.”
Pistols and the classics: “Shots in the Dark: Interrogating Gun Violence in Fiction” by Adrien Van Young, The American Reader
We’ve talked for so long about gun violence in movies, television, video games, and music; what about guns in fiction? Starting with Anton Chekhov’s famous quote, “If in Act I you have a pistol hanging on the wall, then it must fire in the last act,” Adrien Van Young looks at guns in some of our most cherished classics.
One last tribute: “Mavis Gallant’s Choice” by Jhumpa Lahiri, The New Yorker
There were a few great tributes to the Canadian writer who passed away this week at 91 (we’d also point you to our own Michelle Dean’s post), but Jhumpa Lahiri’s recollections of going to Paris to interview the author is essential reading.
John Jeremiah Sullivan goes from Bunny to Bratty: “That Chop on the Upbeat,” Oxford American
Remember that time John Jeremiah Sullivan went to Jamaica to hang out with Bunny Wailer? Consider this Oxford American piece on original Wailer Franklin Delano Alexander Braithwaite, aka Junior Braithwaite, aka Bratty, the very awesome continuation to that story.