July 15, 2017
That was some week
by Melville House
Well, here we are again… goddamn if that wasn’t a week. We set new records for, among other things, heat in New York City, magnificently sheer stupidity in a presidential campaign, use of Daft Punk in geopolitics (if Sean Spicer still exists, he’s probably hopping mad), and the reification of human nightmares generally. But today, friends? Today is Saturday. And Saturdays = Celebration.
Let’s begin the festivities by looking over the week from which we’re desperately trying to recover:
- Susan Rella wrote about the response of many Trump voters to NPR’s tweeting out the text of the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July. In a word: oy.
- Taylor Sperry wrote about the Trump White House’s plans to start smearing individual journalists in retaliation for their accurate reporting. Or, as the Constitution puts it, “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”
Peter Clark talked with indie bookselling hero Christin Evans and her team of glorious geniuses about The Booksmith, the store they’ve been running for a decade, as well as The Bindery, a new event space they’ve just opened, which includes The Arcana Project, a specially curated selection of books from across world history, chronologically arranged.
- Delia Davis wrote about a recent study that found Americans don’t tend to trust the news very much… unless they already agree with it, in which case, whoopeee.
- Ian Dreiblatt wrote about the massive uprising that took place in Newark fifty years ago this week, with special attention to the prosecution of poet Amiri Baraka.
- Chad Felix wrote about how, now that he’s without a TV show, noted fuckface Bill O’Reilly is selling many, many fewer books. Bye bye, Bill.
Julia Fleischaker brought us the story of a resourceful high school newspaper that scored an interview with Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis.
- Nikki Griffiths looked into how the biggest chains are using Philip Pullman’s mega-anticipated new book as an opportunity to screw over independent booksellers.
- Ryan Harrington came at you with a little pre-obituary for the wildly shitty and cockamamie right-wing blog Heat Street, which is shutting down. Try again, Satan.
- Peter Kranitz looked into Will, TNT’s new bardsploitation series about the young Shakespeare, so you don’t have to. In a word: oy.
- Simon Reichley wrote about Josh Walker, a UK citizen who recently returned from fighting ISIS with comrades from the YPG, only to be arrested for the crime of possessing printed-out excerpts of The Anarchist Cookbook.
We were also pretty dang excited to publish:
- This essay by Ladee Hubbard, author of the forthcoming The Talented Ribkins (which Toni “Toni Fucking Morrison” Morrison calls “original… wildly inventive… in a class by itself”), about racist monuments in New Orleans, nicer monuments in Brazil, and what they have to do with racism in both places.
As ever, there were a couple stories we didn’t quite get to:
- The world is mourning Chinese dissident writer, literary critic, Tiananmen standard-bearer, and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo. There’s plenty of room to disagree with Liu’s politics—which included ardent support for the US invasion of Iraq, the Vietnam War, and European colonialism—but his courage in the face of state repression made him a hero to millions, much as his death from liver cancer under state custody is a benchmark of the Chinese government’s scorn for free expression and indifference to the suffering of inconvenient people. We wrote recently on how Liu’s detention may be impacting the case of abducted Swedish bookseller Gui Minhai. Many have expressed immediate concern for Liu’s wife, the poet Liu Xia.
Our friends over at Haymarket Books, who rule, have expressed some interest in signing a lease on some space in a historic mansion in the LA area. An organized campaign has sprung up to keep them from the building — because, the publisher says, of their radical politics. (Dig the scare quotes in that DNAinfo headline!)
- Gotta love this story about Vancouver’s Richard Brautigan Library, which is pretty typical in that it’s a collection of books, but pretty atypical in that all the books are unpublished.
- Here in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is gearing up to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of E.L. Konigsburg’s beloved From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. A great chance to have some fun with the kids, relive your youth, and dust off MC Paul Barman’s immortal and topical 2000 ditty I’m Fricking Awesome, the song that gave us the lines, “My iconoclastic rap schtick gets my jimmie waxed like chapstick / I think LL Cool J and Canibus are both fantastic / So-called experts can’t see how the text works / So they comb through the textures of italicized excerpts.” They suuure do.
- The Reader’s Choice, currently Wisconsin’s only black-owned bookstore, is closing.
We released two new paperbacks this week:
Finally, it is Saturday morning, and a cartoon is the only thing that can possibly justify the horrendous ordeal you’ve just suffered through, that parade of ghastly horrors known as “the past week.” We’ve got a beaut for you — behold the unparalleled Yugoslavian splendors of “The Substitute”:
That’s it, guys. We’ll be back, exuberantly, on Monday. Till then, don’t take any wooden nickels and remember the words “if it’s what you say I love it” are, in this life, to be used judiciously.