Is it just me, or has it felt like every morning this week has greeted us with even worse news? From Ruth leaving us, to no justice for Breonna, to Trump announcing he has no intention to vacate the office of the president…it just seems like too much some days. I like to think there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but man, sometimes I’m not sure the tunnel we’re in ends.
In the meantime, I’m surviving with a burger, a beer, and some good reads. I hope you can find some solace in these essays this week. I know I have.
The Legacy of Audre Lorde by Roxane Gay via The Paris Review
This essay brings together two of my favorite writers: Roxane Gay and Audre Lorde. In talking about this new collection The Selected Works of Audre Lorde, Gay not only takes us through the great legacy of Lorde but delves into the deeper discussion of Black women often being diminished in professional settings, and that, all too often, “people misappropriate the words and ideas of Black women.” This essay really made me think about whether I have been guilty of misappropriation in the past, and how I can make sure to be cognizant of always crediting Black scholars moving forward. I look forward to picking up the selected works soon. (Read the essay.)
The FINCEN Files: Part 1 via Buzzfeed.News
I mean, who doesn’t love a deep dive into dark money? If you want a juicy long read about how all the big banks are helping launder money for drug dealers, terrorists, and Paul Manafort, this is your article! After a huge data drop that journalists at Buzzfeed.News just released the first report on, I’m sure this will just be the first of many articles on this topic. I’m just waiting for Jane Mayer to get in on this and give us her scoop. Stay tuned! (Read the article)
If you want to see the contours of a national crisis, look at local reporting by Brett Murphy via Columbia Journalism Review
During the ongoing protest movement, I have relied greatly on local reporters to find out what’s really going on in cities around the country. This is not a knock on national reporters, but they simply don’t know the lay of the land in local municipalities. They don’t know the players in the game. So, when you’re trying to figure out who is who in the chaos in Portland, don’t look to the Washington Post, look to the local Willamette Weekly or Oregonian reporter. They’re the one’s who have been on the ground from the beginning. This piece from CJR includes links to some great local stories from around the U.S. It was a fun read for sure. (Read the article.)
Best Sellers Sell Best Because They’re Best Sellers by Alexandra Alter via The New York Times
In publishing, you’ll hear Penguin Random House referred to as one of the “Big Five.” These are the five major publishers that dominate the book scene, and basically blow all other publishers out of the water when it comes to sales and distribution. I have a lot of thoughts about this article and the strategies of Madeline McIntosh, but I’ll let you read and make up your mind. Let’s just say, please support your local indie publisher. They need all the help they can get, and they put out great books, too! If you need suggestions for indie publishers, hit me up! Or better yet, post your favorites in the comments! (Read the article.)
Arbos by Teju Cole via GRANTA
Teju Cole always challenges me. He is perpetually looking at the world in a way I never would have considered. In his writing, and in his experience of the world around him, he teaches his reader to truly see their surroundings. Nightly walks have become a ritual for me, and in reading Teju’s essay, I’m realizing that while I’m walking I’m not truly seeing or experiencing the neighborhood I’m walking through. I’m simply, “going, moving, being.” Perhaps tomorrow I’ll take my camera out and check out the cobblestones or the trees on my way down to the pier. As an addendum, back in April, Teju published a piece in The New York Times titled, “We Can’t Comprehend This Much Sorrow.” If you missed it, I think it still resonates, and is, again, Teju’s own way to look at the world. (Read the essay.)
The Education of an Idealist by Samantha Power
This book has been a surprising reprieve from the daily grind. It’s strange to say that a 542 page book is a reprieve, but here we are. I felt almost a sense of kinship with Samantha Power as I read her memoir. We’ve walked different paths, but yet, I can see parts of my story in hers. I think I’m a troubled idealist, perhaps an idealist stuck in a realist’s body? At least, I’m working to not fall into pessimism these days. This pandemic has placed us all in such a strange place, where we’re questioning our life paths, and wondering if it’s time–or if it’s possible–to choose another one. I think that’s part of what made reading Power’s memoir so inspiring. We often see figures like her as simply the biggest job they had, and don’t see their whole journey to get there. All this to say, I found it empowering to take some time with her journey this week. Also, it’s fun to read about Obama giving her guff. I recognize the type of friendship they have, sharing their writing and editing, pushing each other to do better, go bigger. I love those friendships.
*The photo at the top of this article is the one tree photo I have taken on my walks. It was after the hurricane came through.