Side B editors and columnists recommend some of their favorite things for readers this weekend:
“Ripped from the headlines”-style poetics are not my forte, but there are a number of poets I admire for their ability to turn a news story into a piece of art, especially when that news story is one fraught with pain and violence. In her book Racing Hummingbirds, Jeanann Verlee has an excellent poem where God responds to images from the news that you pays tender attention to stepping beyond the myopia of a journalistic eye. Tara Skurtu’s recent poem to the family of Trayvon Martin, ”Anyone’s Son,” is just as timely and tender, turning back the clock to imagine a world in which Martin ended up safe at home. It is easy to default to an angry stance when dealing with such delicate subject matter, but Skurtu chooses to give outlet to the outrage that followed the murder by giving us window into another life where it might have turned out different. Keep your eyes peeled for an up-coming edition of Liner Notes with Skurtu. - Emily
I’ve been making my way through New York this summer, trying to find ways to write and edit and build the life I want, and my subway buddy has been John D’Agata’s book Lifespan of a Fact. It’s nonfiction – actually kind of hyper-meta-nonfiction – about D’Agata submitting an essay to The Believer* and having it fact-checked. The resulting exchange between author and checker (wry, hapless intern Jim Fingal) comprises the book itself, with the text of the essay in the center of the page and the checking process notated around the perimeter. It feels Talmudic, it feels intimate, and I can’t go more than ten or so pages without wanting to stop and write something myself. –Alanna
*Which, present company excluded, could be my favorite magazine.
Have you guys seen the Edith Wharton photo spread in Vogue? As much as I love the concept – hurray period photography! – I’m a little unhappy about the lack of women writers in the shoot. You’re telling me you found all these male writers to participate, but had to use a model for Wharton? Someone call VIDA! What about writers Jennifer Egan, Téa Obreht, Nicole Krauss, or any of the women on this list of writers of color? Come on now. Let’s try a little harder next time (but really, I do ultimately recommend the Vogue photo spread for all literary types – especially those of us who want to see Junot Díaz in period clothing!) – Nidya
I’m smack in the middle, once again, of simultaneously adoring and mourning Daniel Pearl. (You may remember Pearl was the Wall Street Journal reporter kidnapped and beheaded in Pakistan in 2002 by members of Al-Qaeda—if you did not remember, then there: some additional education for you this day.) Pearl was a stunning writer. His words will always be worth reading. I’m reading a posthumous collection of his work called At Home in the World. The book is also sprinkled with beautiful thoughts from people who knew him disguising themselves as intros—including the heartwarming-heartbreaking foreword by Pearl’s wife. I read a review that said perhaps this book was written, and subsequently read, through a rose-colored glass. I’m not sure about that, but even if it’s true, why not? Pearl’s writing is brilliant and the impression he left on people was sparkling. Your life will be better for reading this book, I promise. -Laura
I heard about this show thanks to Becca’s twitter (so feel free to rec this when it comes out), but I really want to see the TLC show Breaking Amish. The name is horrendous, and I don’t really understand how they got to be on this show (the description on TLC says it is not Rumspringa, “adolescence” for Amish youth before they are baptized, but they couldn’t leave and expect to possibly return if they had already been baptized), but most of all I wondered how did nobody think to make this a TV show before now? As somebody who bought a milkshake from Amish dairy farmers every Saturday after swim practice and has driven to a smorgasbord in Lancaster, PA in an RV, I am curious to know how Amish (and apparently some Mennonites are in there too) young adults act when not tolerating the tourists and farm market crowd. Amish and Mennonite teenagers at strip clubs? This is TV gold. Just a shame I can’t ask the local farmers what they think of the show: something tells me they wouldn’t be watching even if they could own televisions. -Danielle