Camus’s legacy is haunted by his hesitation to support Algerian independence, but Adam Kirsch says that he gets to the heart of questions over when to act—and when to be suspicious of ideology.
Some writers are lucky enough to be remembered 50 years after they die, and a few are even beloved. What is vanishingly rare, however, is for a long-dead writer to remain controversial. Albert Camus is one of those exceptions, a writer who still has the power to ignite political passions, because he managed to incorporate the history of the 20th century so deeply into his writing. As a novelist, philosopher, and activist, Camus came to stand in the public imagination for a scrupulously moral approach to politics—a liberalism tempered by suspicion of ideology, and adamantly committed to the value of the individual human life.
Solomon Northup’s story is so extraordinary that it seems incredible. Meet the civil rights crusader who rescued him from obscurity and made the movie ‘12 Years a Slave’ possible.
Last month, I wrote an article for The Daily Mail about the true story of Solomon Northup, a slave whose harrowing experiences form the basis of the movie 12 Years A Slave. As anyone who has seen the film will testify, Northup endured no end of brutality at the hands of various plantation managers and overseers, all of which are graphically depicted in Steve McQueen’s new film. When I filed the piece, my editor called to express some reservations.
When will one of America’s most outrageous literary characters get the book he deserves? Adam Begley on a sloppy and insipid biography that doesn’t do justice to Mailer’s life.
A great believer in karma, and nearly as frank in his confessions as he was exuberant in his self-advertisements, Norman Mailer was surely convinced that he would get the biography he deserved. Well, there have been five so far, the first four published in the 1980s and 90s. The most recent, a great big, messy love letter, is about to land with a dull thud in your neighborhood bookstore. Maybe it’s quantity that counts in this particular karmic equation, and the proliferating accounts of Stormin’ Norman’s earthly transit are an indication of his great virtue as a writer.
From a Missouri town’s chilling war on two alleged rape victims to Cleveland’s experiment with worker-owned businesses , The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.
Nightmare in Maryville Doug Arnett, The Kansas City Star A Missouri town’s chilling war on two teenage girls who were allegedly raped by high school football stars.The End of Ilth Erik Reece, Harper’s A network of worker-owned businesses in Cleveland has created environmentally sustainable jobs in low-income neighborhoods and a work environment that gives workers real input into company decisions and a share of the profits.Facebook Feminism, Like it Or Not Susan Faludi, The Baffler How the growing “Lean In” industry trades structural reform for airy positive thinking.
Fiction and music don’t always go together smoothly, but here are ten novels that Ted Gioia rates as getting both right.
Okay, I’ve always had a problem with novels and music. When I was a starving student, my problem was how to afford them. I was an addict and needed a constant new supply of songs and literature. Now, many years later, my problem is where to store all my books and recordings. They are spilling off the shelves, and on to the floor, and I’ve stuffed boxes of those bad boys into every available spot in the garage.But I have another problem about literature and music.
At the Nuremberg trials of leading Nazis, one American psychiatrist took on the task of understanding their personality, and developed a strange attachment to Hermann Goring that ruined his life. Jack El-Hai on this unknown story.
In 2007, under the watch of insolently lounging house cats in a Northern California living room, I opened the lids of four battered cardboard boxes. Out rushed the smell of a vanished world: a physician’s patient records and hand-written notes untouched for decades, disintegrating photographs, stale cigarette smoke, x-ray images of Adolf Hitler’s skull, wax-sealed packets of narcotics, and allegedly poisoned food. The boxes exhaled the air of Nuremberg, Germany, from 1945 to 1946, when 22 of the top Nazi leaders awaited and began their trial by an International Tribunal.
When Churchill became Prime Minister, the Royal Family were not fans, but soon the King and Churchill developed a close and essential relationship as Britain fought for its life. By Michael Korda.
Quite apart from its many other virtues Kenneth Weisbrode’s wonderfully readable Churchill and the King will go far to correct the mistaken impression that the British sovereign is merely a figurehead, trotted out in full court dress and crown for the opening of Parliament and other symbolic ceremonies. Prime ministers come and go, but so long as he or she lives the sovereign remains, receiving and reading all state papers, and meeting once a week with the prime minister to advise, enquire, and comment—sometimes sharply, as was the case with Queen Elizabeth II and Mrs.
That and other provocative questions about human sexuality are raised by Jesse Bering in his new book, Perv. He talks to Rachel Kramer Bussel about bestiality, sexual norms, and foot fetishists.
With his new book Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us, Jesse Bering forces readers to face topics that can make even the most libertine amongst us squeamish—namely incest, pedophilia, and bestiality. He covers medical attempts to “cure” homosexuality, age of consent laws, highlights of scientific sex research, and argues that, like it or not, we’re all perverts of one kind or another. The Daily Beast discussed with Bering just how bad bestiality is, “virtuous pedophiles,” the furor over that risqué pre-twerking Miley Cyrus Vanity Fair photo, and what he considers the strangest of the strange in the land of out-there perversions.
It's being hailed as the most devastating film about slavery ever, but the extraordinarily detailed memoir it’s based on shows the institution to be even more hideous than you can imagine. Warning: spoilers abound.
That collective gasp you hear is the audience jolted by intolerable cruelty in 12 Years a Slave. Yet if you think the movie offers a terrible-enough portrait of slavery, please, do read the book. The written account is far worse than what the screen can display. The film is based on, and very faithful to, the autobiography of Solomon Northup, which was published in 1853 as Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northup, a Citizen of New-York, Kidnapped in Washington City in 1841, and Rescued in 1853, From a Cotton Plantation Near the Red River, in Louisiana .
In her new memoir, Malala Yousafzai remembers the day leading up to the moment Taliban gunman ambushed her schoolbus and shot her for her activism.
In the morning my parents came to my room as usual and woke me up. I don’t remember a single school day on which I woke up early by myself. My mother made our usual breakfast of sugary tea, chapatis and fried egg. We all had breakfast together—me, my mother, my father, Khushal and Atal. It was a big day for my mother, as she was going to start lessons that afternoon to learn to read and write with Miss Ulfat, my old teacher from kindergarten.
Says detractors mostly ‘men over about 45.’
The newest–and youngest–winner of the Man Booker Prize has not been immune to the controversy that inevitably accompanies winning a major literary award. In an interview with the Guardian, Eleanor Catton says that the criticisms following her win for The Luminaries has a lot to do with her gender and her age. "People whose negative reaction has been most vehement,” the author says, “have all been men over about 45." Catton went on to say that in the publishing world, “male writers tend to get asked what they think and women what they feel...interviews much more seldom engage with the woman as a serious thinker, a philosopher, as a person with preoccupations that are going to sustain them for their lifetime."
Country in the middle of ‘literary boom.’
There is an Icelandic proverb that says “ad ganga med bok I maganum"– literally, everyone "has a book in their stomach.” Or at least, one in ten do. Per capita, Iceland produces the most writers out of any country in the world; ten percent of the small island’s 300,000 residents will be published at some point in their lifetime. Publishing is so common that one novelist, Kristin Eirikskdottir, said it sometimes gets competitive, “especially as I live with my mother and partner, who are also full-time writers. But we try to publish in alternate years so we do not compete too much." Who reads all these books? Iceland is a nation of voracious readers: Iceland boasts a 99 percent literacy rate.
When historian Simon Winchester became American, he decided to set out to understand how the country developed. His new book tells the story of the men who shaped and united America. He talks to Eric Herschthal about what he found.
Most naturalized citizens have to learn something about America’s history. But Simon Winchester, the prolific British-born author who became an American citizen in 2011, tried to re-write it. His new book, The Men Who United the States, tells the nation’s history through the creation of its infrastructure—roads, canals, the telegraph, telephone, and electrical grid. Focusing on the many forgotten figures who brought these projects into being, he argues that these quotidian projects were critical to unifying a country of polyglot citizens.
What’s happening on the Emerald Isles? Two new books, one short stories and the other a detective novel without a resolution, to the new fiction being written by Irish writers. By Andrew Fox.
The short story was the weapon of choice for a generation of Irish writers—including Seán Ó’Faoláin, Frank O’Connor, and Liam O’Flaherty—many of whom had fought for the Republican cause in both the War of Independence and the Civil War, only to see their ideals defeated by the conservatism and social compression that marked the early years of the Irish state. It was in the face of these challenges during the 1930s and 40s, wrote Ó’Faoláin, that a form defined by its brevity and its inconclusiveness presented to Irish writers that most important though unlikeliest of things—an opportunity to arrive at an original “personality.
A new biography looks at how FDR’s thwarted dream of serving in a Navy uniform primed him to eventually become president. But Harvey Kaye says the preparation came even earlier.
What made Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the wealthy son of Hudson River valley aristocrats, the liberal, indeed, the radical he became? When and where did he develop the ideas, sensibilities, and commitments that would propel and enable him to mobilize Americans to pursue the great democratic labors of the New Deal and lead the nation in a war against European Fascism and Japanese Imperialism and for the Four Freedoms—freedom of speech, Freedom of religion, Freedom from want, Freedom from fear—which he proclaimed in January 1941?Both FDR’s friends and biographers have speculated on the origins of his progressivism.
Score settling, women bashing, Smiths hating, and finally a reveal about his mysterious love life—Nico Hines digs into Morrissey’s new ‘Autobiography’ for the most scandalous tidbits.
The outcry over Morrissey’s Autobiography started before anyone had read a word. Somehow, the pop iconoclast persuaded, or cajoled, Penguin to publish his memoirs as part of its Classics series, which previously had been reserved for significant works by the great figures in literary history, including Homer, Mark Twain, and Jane Austen.You won’t be surprised to hear that the most celebrated contrarian in British music has packed plenty more controversy between those trademark covers.
The government shutdown has reached such absurd levels that a whole new vocabulary is needed to talk about it. Liesl Schillinger to the rescue with a bevy of words that might help you make sense of it all.
What do you call a long-winded member of Congress whose opinions infuriate you? Ambrose Bierce, a century ago, in his Devil’s Dictionary called such a blowhard a “harangue-outang.” If Congress is controlled by harangue-outangs, can the country prosper? Bierce would have called such a prospect “incompossible.” Given the intractable problems between today’s Republicans and Democrats in Congress, it’s a pity there isn’t a fresher lexicon than Bierce’s to describe the ills of contemporary politics.
Plans to write a second book to "set the record straight" about her involvement with John Edwards.
If Rielle Hunter is sincere in her apology, does that mean she’ll give refunds to people who bought her book. Hunter, who famously had an affair with John Edwards, is apologizing for it all—the affair and writing a book about it. To prove how sorry she is, she’s writing a second memoir. The book, called In Hindsight, What Really Happened, is supposed to set the record straight about Hunter’s “regrets and mistakes.” In an open letter on the Huffington Post, Hunter apologizes for “behaving badly,” but claims she couldn’t help herself: “Unfortunately, I was not thinking about anyone but myself. I was selfish. I fell in love with John Edwards and wanted to be with him and that desire trumped everything else.” Still not okay, but let's all move on then.
Fiction includes Pynchon, Lahiri, Saunders.
The National Book Foundation announced on Wednesday the 2013 National Book Award finalists, with five nominees in each of the four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people's literature. They were winnowed down from longlists of 10. The winners will be named at a gala dinner and ceremony in New York on Nov. 20. Fiction: The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri. The Good Lord Bird by James McBride. Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon. Tenth of December by George Saunders.Nonfiction: Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore. Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields by Wendy Lower. The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer. The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 by Alan Taylor. Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright.Poetry: Metaphysical Dog by Frank Bidart. Stay, Illusion by Lucie Brock-Broido. The Big Smoke by Adrian Matejka. Black Aperture by Matt Rasmussen. Incarnadine by Mary Szybist.Young People's Literature: The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt. The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata. Far Far Away by Tom McNeal. Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff. Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang.
In 'Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, The Tour de France and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever,' investigative journalists Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O’Connell reveal the full extent of professional cycling’s culture of cheating, sex, and doping.
The biggest revelation from Wheelmen broke last week: Sheryl Crow witnessing then-boyfriend Lance Armstrong doping. However, Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O’Connell uncovered plenty more shocking details about the full extent of Armstrong’s drug use as well as the many people and institutions that helped him.Kristin Richard Coordinated DopingArmstrong never hid his doping from the (many) women in his life. His first wife, Kristin Richard, distributed cortisone tablets to the USPS Cycling team and stored Lance’s EPO in their refrigerator.
Report: Cohen to Write Ephron Bio
They were longtime friends.More
CHILL YOUR BONES
CBS Buys ‘Scary Stories’ Film
1980s children’s horror books.More
Oldest U.S. Book Sells for $14.1M
Printed in 1640.More
National Book Award Winners Announced
The Good Lord Bird takes fiction prize. More
STRIKE A POSE
Selfie Is Word of the Year
Beat out twerk, bitcoin.More
Author Barbara Park Dies
Wrote the “Junie B. Jones” series.More