Well, here’s another edition of Your Weekend Reads, where I avoid finishing my novel, recommend a bunch of interesting long articles, fiction, and poetry online. And then you reach for your smart phone to post a cat photo. HAH! Just kidding. Anyway, read any of ’em if you want, or go for a walk or ignore it altogether. Enjoy your weekend, regardless.
First, you should read a little review I posted here at the Lost Salt Atlas of Kendrick Lamar’s album To Pimp a Butterfly, then download that motherfucker and listen to it all the way through. Enough said.
I don’t know who Steven Marche is, but he just wrote the most brilliant piece I’ve read yet on the complete absurdity that is the US Presidential Election of 2016. He’s Canadian and so he can insult us all he wants. At a Trump rally and then at a Bernie rally, he discovers they have something in common: angry white men. Read it, it’s a raw, funny, and blistering piece:
I stayed to watch Trump work the line. Up close, in person, the hair is much more intricate than it appears on screen. Its construction is tripartite, its significance polyvalent. First and foremost, there is the comb-over, although it can be called a comb-over only in the sense that the mall in Dubai with a ski hill inside it can be called a building. It is hair as state-of-the-art engineering feat, with the diaphanous quality of a cloak out of Norse legend or some miraculous near-weightless metal developed in an advanced German laboratory. It floats over the skull, an act of defiance not only against ageing and loss but against time and space, against reality.
How does one reconcile the need to save a dying planet with our powerlessness to change our species’ irrational nature? In a searing essay for the Dark Mountain Project, Will Falk examines his two suicide attempts in relation to humanity’s blissful, happy march into the Anthropocene:
The final theory for my suicide attempts — and the one that makes the most sense to me — points to the overwhelming mixture of exhaustion, guilt, and despair I built as a public defender watching client after client dragged away to prison while I woke every morning to read news reports of ever more environmental destruction.
On another cheery note, author Jennifer Garam offers some advice on How to Keep Writing When No One Gives a Shit:
But as bad as the rejection and all the non-caring feels, not writing feels worse. I have to tell my stories and share my experiences, or I get angry and lethargic and depressed. Without writing, I feel powerless and like I don’t have a voice, like my thoughts and feelings and experiences don’t matter.
Morroccan-born writer Tahar Ben Jalloun is often on the short list for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Living in Paris and writing in French, he’s been acclaimed for such novels The Sacred Night, which won the prestigious Prix Goncourt in 1987 and was the first book by an Arab writer to be so honored. Now he’s got a new novel translated into English, The Happy Marriage (the marriage in question being anything but). Read an excerpt at Lit Hub here. And while you’re at it check out this Paris Review interview Jalloun did in 1999.
In 1974, director Werner Herzog did something bizarre. (Okay, no surprise there.) When Herzog learned that a good friend, the film historian Lotte Eisner, was dying he decided to walk the 500 miles between Munich and Paris to see her. By so doing, he magically reasoned, he would prevent her death. In a review of the newly published diary he kept during the walk, Noah Isenberg tells the strange story of Herzog’s winter quest, which the German director summed up nicely:
Walking on foot brings you down to the very stark, naked core of existence.
Over at the American Academy of poets, read Paisley Rekdal’s lovely poem “The Cry,” a meditation on grief and the sounds of mortality:
Even if I were blind
I would know night by the noise it made:
our groaning bed, the mewling
staircase, drapes that scrape
against glass panes behind which
stars rise, blue and silent.
In the Washington Post, Anna Swanson writes about the fascinating history of The Green Book, a guide for African-American travelers coping with racism in America. Published between 1936 and 1963, the guide offers a glimpse into the institutionalized discrimination blacks faced wherever they went (both in the north and south):
Jim Crow laws across the South mandated that restaurants, hotels, pool halls and parks strictly separate whites and blacks. Lynchings kept blacks in fear of mob violence. And there were thousands of so-called “sundown towns,” including in northern states like Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan, which barred blacks after dark, an unofficial rule reinforced by the threat of violence.
Covers of The Green Book courtesy New York Public Library, image of Werner Herzog by Erin C. Salor, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.