HELLO and welcome to the 170th installment of Things I Read That I Love, wherein I share with you some of the longer-form journalism/essays I’ve read recently so that you can read them too and we can all know more about Ophelia! This “column” is less feminist/queer focused than the rest of the site because when something is feminist/queer focused, I put it on the rest of the site. Here is where the other things are.
The title of this feature is inspired by the title of Emily Gould’s tumblr, Things I Ate That I Love.
The Unified Theory of Ophelia: On Women, Writing, and Mental Illness, by B.N Harrison for The Toast
Women seemed to invoke her like a patron saint; men seemed mostly interested in fetishizing her flowery, waterlogged corpse. I tried to argue that Ophelia resonated because Shakespeare had made an extraordinary discovery in writing her, though I had trouble articulating the nature of that discovery. I didn’t want to admit that it could be something as simple as recognizing that emotionally unstable teenage girls are human beings. It would be depressingly close to admitting that a male writer would have to be as gifted as Shakespeare in order to come to a conclusion like that.
Drawing The Color Line, by Howard Zinn for The People’s History of The United States
“There is not a country in world history in which racism has been more important, for so long a time, as the United States,” Zinn writes in the introduction to the second chapter of his book, which has been transcribed for History is a Weapon. “it is more than a purely historical question to ask: How does it start?—and an even more urgent question: How might it end? Or, to put it differently: Is it possible for whites and blacks to live together without hatred? If history can help answer these questions, then the beginnings of slavery in North America — a continent where we can trace the coming of the first whites and the first blacks — might supply at least a few clues.” That’s what this chapter is about – the beginnings of slavery in North America.
Inexcusable Absences, by Dana Goldstein for The Marshall Project, March 2015
Truancy laws are locking away parents who can’t force their kids to attend school. This system, unsurprisingly, has so far managed to help absolutely nobody.
Tristain Walker: The Visible Man, by J.J McCovrvey for Fast Company, November 2014
A dynamic look at the life of one black man who made it big in tech, a world which has never exactly been known for its racial diversity. It’s a brilliant feature revealing so much about the Silicon Valley climate and the way in which one gets there against all odds and code-switching and why it’s so much easier for upper-middle-class white boys to take risks in the valley than it is for people without a safety net. It’s also about Walker’s company which wants to be Johnson & Johnson for black folks. There’s also a companion article, Just Being Who We Are Is Extremely Risky: An Honest Discussion On Race In Silicon Valley, a roundtable discussion with other African-American entrepreneurs.
The Art of Unease: The Jinx, Serial and The New True Crime Boom, by Mark Harris for Grantland, March 2015
That strategy has become irresistible to many viewers, even though as often as not those initial promises go maddeningly unfulfilled. It conflates something true — the idea that a single violent death ripples outward in endless circles to affect many lives — with something false, which is the inappropriate comfort and reassurance that even a brutal and apparently random homicide, when examined in rich enough detail, will always turn out to feel inevitable. It’s a belief in violent death as a narrative endpoint rather than as a narrative interruption, and the effect it has on us — “Ah, so that’s why she died!” — allows us to put the story away, because it’s just a story.
What Really Happened To Baby Johan? by Elizabeth Weil for Medium, February 2015
Well, this is horrible. A baby dies and his father is blamed and sent to jail but was it really him or was it the hospital covering up their own failures? It’s an in-depth piece with original photography and it’s really frightening.
Let Us Now Appraise Famous Writers, by Jessica Mitford for The Atlantic, July 1970
This article blew the lid off a fantastically profitable scam that employed the alleged endorsements of “Famous Writers” to sell novices (who they claimed had passed a selective admissions exam) a “how to be a paid writer” correspondence course that never turned anybody into a paid writer and lied extensively about the market. It’s so much more complicated for shit like this to happen now, with the ease of disseminating information widely over the internet and the availability of online reviews and more awareness by consumers of scams in general. Of course I know from working in publishing that similar scams happen today but they are dressed up differently, like as writer’s conferences, and not total scams, just slight exaggerations. But this is really extraordinary! That they got away with this!
He Doesn’t Wanna Be Here, by Lindsey Gates-Markel for The Rumpus, March 2015
I spent my thirtieth birthday at the quarry with my brother and a sixer of Ruby Redbird. It seemed like the best place to be. We sat at the edge of the dock and talked while looking out at the water. We split the beers. I told him I was going to therapy. I told him I was afraid of addiction waking up in my body.