Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘net are doing, too. And since our audience (and we) love books in particular, we thought we would share a weekly roundup of some our favorite bookish writing from around the web. This week: lots of smart articles about the intersection of literature and politics, plus we hear from Patti Smith about that appearance before the Nobel Committee.
Did Hunter S. Thompson’s writing on the Hell’s Angels predict the rise of Trump? Susan Williams at The Nation says yes, and explains why.
What made that outcome almost certain, Thompson thought, was the obliviousness of Berkeley, California, types who, from the safety of their cocktail parties, imagined that they understood and represented the downtrodden. The Berkeley types, Thompson thought, were not going to realize how presumptuous they had been until the downtrodden broke into one of those cocktail parties and embarked on a campaign of rape, pillage, and slaughter. For Thompson, the Angels weren’t important because they heralded a new movement of cultural hedonism, but because they were the advance guard for a new kind of right-wing politics. As Thompson presciently wrote in the Nation piece he later expanded on in Hell’s Angels, that kind of politics is “nearly impossible to deal with” using reason or empathy or awareness-raising or any of the other favorite tools of the left.
The Hells Angels may have forshadowed Trump, but Sherman Alexie says only white liberals were surprised by him. Alexie talked to the Stranger last week about writing in the era of Trump. The interview touches on many topics but includes this tidbit about his next idea.
I have an idea for my next book that I think I can write in a month. It’s a young-adult book and it speaks directly to what just happened to us in terms of whiteness in this election. There is no brown person in this United States who is shocked that Trump won. My white liberal friends are utterly panicked and shocked. And the rest of us brown folks are like, “Well, shit, of course. Now we have to get to work.
So how do we get to work? At Slate, Michelle Goldberg explores ACT UP veterans organizing against Trump, including an interview with David France who wrote this year’s crucial read, How to Survive a Plague.
“The model of activism that ACT UP innovated is a model that they called inside-outside,” France says. “They had these armies of bodies that could show up at the drop of a phone call and stand outside these institutions that needed to be addressed, and they could do that with enough numbers, force, and clever timing that it forced somebody inside those institutions to pay attention. They also had an inside group of people who trained themselves in the science of AIDS and AIDS research. Once their comrades got those doors open, they moved through.” The group was never that big—France says its largest demonstrations drew around 3,000 people. “But they were tireless, those 3,000 people,” he says.
And finally, as the “hard rain” of our reality sets in, here’s Patti Smith’s own narration of her time in Sweden performing in honor of Bob Fylan, the Rimbaud of her era.
I thought of my mother, who bought me my first Dylan album when I was barely sixteen. She found it in the bargain bin at the five-and-dime and bought it with her tip money. “He looked like someone you’d like,” she told me. I played the record over and over, my favorite being “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” It occurred to me then that, although I did not live in the time of Arthur Rimbaud, I existed in the time of Bob Dylan. I also thought of my husband and remembered performing the song together, picturing his hands forming the chords.