It’s after Memorial Day, which means that across the country, grills have been rolled out, beach towels unfurled, and thousands of college grads unleashed into the real world. Helping them make the transition are big-name commencement speakers dispensing advice with varying degrees of seriousness. Robert De Niro’s grabbed headlines with his already-infamous “yeah, you’re fucked” address at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts (though his follow-up — “the good news is that’s not a bad place to start” — got slightly less attention). Here are some other highlights from the 2015 commencement season, from tongue-in-cheek to earnest to everything in …Read More
Earlier this week, six authors — Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Peter Carey, and Taiye Selasi — announced their withdrawal as literary hosts of this year’s PEN America gala, over the group’s acknowledgment of Charlie Hebdo with its annual Freedom of Expression Courage Award. Responding to what Kushner referred to as the magazine’s “cultural intolerance,” the writers met with quick condemnation from both PEN itself and one of its loudest spokesmen, Salman Rushdie.
So, who’s right? Is the Charlie Hebdo staff’s martyrdom enough to justify honoring them? Or should an award like this be reserved for work that PEN and its constituency actually endorse? Flavorwire Editor-at-Large Sarah Seltzer and Literary Editor Jonathon Sturgeon found themselves on the opposite sides of these questions. Below, each argues their point of view.
Six writers — Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Peter Carey, and Taiye Selasi — will withdraw as literary hosts from the PEN American Center’s annual gala in response to the organization’s decision to recognize Charlie Hebdo with the James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award. But instead of recognizing the power of their gesture, PEN has met these writers with a pose of incredulity and a statement written in the language of a GOP primary.
This week, Olive Films is releasing, for the first time on Blu-ray, The Road to Hong Kong, the last of the seven “Road” buddy comedies starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. Hitting theaters a full decade after the penultimate entry, Hong Kong is an occasionally funny and occasionally wheezy bit of business, with one honest-to-God great sequence: an unbilled cameo by Peter Sellers, who strolls into the picture and steals the damn thing outright. Hope and Crosby were early adopters of the kind of inside-joke comedy that yielded such cameos, which became increasingly common in the years that followed; we’ve gathered up some of the funniest in movie …Read More
After the display of inhumanity (a stupid word, really, for something really just describing a frightening human capacity for favoring ideology over human life) — by gunmen who broke into the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris and took the lives of 12, injuring many more — the whole day seemed underscored by the sickening notion, as we’d seen recently with the Sony Hacks, that comedic criticism is becoming more and more of a life-threatening undertaking. Atlantic writer Peter Beinart drew parallels between these recent instances of media-centric terrorism, while also addressing the fact that the antagonizing forces in both cases have not officially been identified. Over at Slate, there’s an article on the importance and evolution of the political cartoon in France. Celebrities such as Salman Rushdie and Tina Fey have also voiced their concerns on the state of free speech, as well as their vehemence about protecting it.
One of the things literature does better than almost any other medium is allow us to experience another person’s quality of mind, and sometimes even inhabit it. It follows, then, that every avid reader has a favorite literary character — whether they’re beloved for dastardly deeds, tough-girl antics, sex appeal, or a high snark quotient — and that there are many impossibly good ones out there. Click through to find 50 of the …Read More