Albrecht Anker, The Crèche (1890), via Wikimedia Commons
The young eat the young: Kosoko Jackson, who was part of the Twitter mob that got Amélie Zhao to cancel the publication of her novel, Blood Heir, because of what some readers thought was cultural appropriation, now withdraws his own debut novel from publication. Jesse Singal: “The Twitter community surrounding the genre, one in which authors, editors, agents, and adult readers and reviewers outnumber youthful readers, has become a cesspool of toxicity. ‘Young-adult books are being targeted in intense social media callouts, draggings, and pile-ons—sometimes before anybody’s even read them,’ Vulture’s Kat Rosenfield wrote in the definitive must-read piece on this strange and angry internet community. The call-outs, draggings, and pile-ons almost always involve claims that books are insensitive with regard to their treatment of some marginalized group, and the specific charges, as Rosenfield showed convincingly, often don’t seem to warrant the blowups they spark—when they make any sense at all. But surely Jackson, an enforcer of social justice norms and a gay black man writing about gay black protagonist should have been safe, right? Instead, it all came crashing down quite quickly.”
The real lives of nannies: “From Roma to Mary Poppins Returns, fictional portraits of nannies are more popular than ever. Yet the reality of their lives—and the dysfunction of our public policy on care work—is too often obscured.”
Ivo Andrić’s last novel: “When the Yugoslav writer Ivo Andrić was a young man, he was arrested under suspicion of involvement in the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. He ended up spending most of the catastrophic war precipitated by that assassination under house arrest. By the Second World War, Andrić had become a diplomat, and he served as ambassador to Germany up until 1941, when Yugoslavia was invaded. He then wrote the work for which he is best known, The Bridge on the Drina (Na Drini Ćuprija), followed by many more novels, short stories, and essays. He won the Nobel Prize in 1961 and died in 1975—perhaps mercifully, before the death of Tito and the splintering of Yugoslavia. It was a splintering that would have devastated him . . . I mention all this because the themes you see threaded through Andrić’s life—the great, wasting, forces of history, the ruin wreaked by the passage of time, the devastation wrought under both Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian occupation, and the precious ideal of a unified Yugoslavia—are also prominent in his work, particularly in his last, unfinished novel.”
With over 2,000 journal titles in its catalog and institutional rates in the thousands of dollars per journal, Elsevier makes a pretty penny by selling articles it received for free from university scholars and scientists back to the institutions that supported the research in the first place. The University of California has had enough.
A.E. Stallings’ translation of Hesiod’s Works and Days is both ancient (and alien) and very much of our time: “The Hesiod whose existence she goes so far to persuade us of would certainly approve of the work here – of its difficulty, but also its successful accomplishment. As for Marcus Argentarius, even his dislike of work (and of Works) might be overcome by this learned, humane, and skilful treatment of the ‘old man’. No reader of the best poetry should miss this Works and Days: not even for Pyrrha.”
A Silicon Valley billionaire is the new sponsor of the Booker Prize: “Silicon Valley billionaire, philanthropist and author Michael Moritz and his wife Harriet Heyman’s charitable foundation has been announced as the new sponsor of the Booker prize, a month after the Man Group revealed it was ending its 18-year sponsorship of the prestigious award for literary fiction. Moritz and Heyman’s foundation, Crankstart, has committed to an initial five-year exclusive funding term for the Booker, with an option to renew for a further five years. It will not give its name to the award.” That’s too bad. I’d be all for a prize called the Crankstart Booker.
Jonah Goldberg and Steve Hayes to start a new conservative media company, Mike Allen reports: “Goldberg and Hayes tell me they plan a reporting-driven, Trump-skeptical company that will begin with newsletters as soon as this summer, then add a website in September, and perhaps ultimately a print magazine.”
Essay of the Day:
In GQ, Michael Finkel writes about the “world’s greatest art thief,” Stéphane Breitwieser, who “robbed nearly 200 museums” and “amassed a collection of treasures worth more than $1.4 billion.” How did he do it?
“‘Don’t worry about parking the car,’ says the art thief. ‘Anywhere near the museum is fine.’ When it comes to stealing from museums, Stéphane Breitwieser is virtually peerless. He is one of the most prolific and successful art thieves who have ever lived. Done right, his technique—daytime, no violence, performed like a magic trick, sometimes with guards in the room—never involves a dash to a getaway car. And done wrong, a parking spot is the least of his worries.
“Just make sure to get there at lunchtime, Breitwieser stresses, when the visitors thin and the security staff rotates shorthanded to eat. Dress sharply, shoes to shirt, topped by a jacket that’s tailored a little too roomy, with a Swiss Army knife stashed in a pocket.
“Be friendly at the front desk. Buy your ticket, say hello. Once inside, Breitwieser adds, it’s essential to focus. Note the flow of visitor traffic and memorize the exits. Count the guards. Are they sitting or patrolling? Check for security cameras and see if each has a wire—sometimes they’re fake.
“When it comes to museum flooring, creaky old wood is ideal, so even with his back turned, Breitwieser can hear footsteps two rooms away. Carpeting is the worst. Here, at the Rubens House, in Antwerp, Belgium, it’s somewhere in between: marble. For this theft, Breitwieser has arrived with his girlfriend and frequent travel companion, Anne-Catherine Kleinklaus, who positions herself near the only doorway to a ground-floor exhibition room and coughs softly when anyone approaches.”
Photo: Beached cargo ship
Poem: Aaron Poochigian, “The Living Will”
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