Mark Armstrong of Longreads posts his top essays and articles over at Mother Jones each week, and this time around I’m his “Featured Longreader.” Here’s some of what I’ve been reading recently:
A Disney trip with kids meets lots of furtive weed smoking in John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Rough Guide to Disney World. “It was a double hallucination,” he says. “You were hallucinating inside of Walter Disney’s hallucination. That’s what he wanted.” Already an official #longreads pick, I know, but: it’s so, so good and only gets better as it goes.
I’ve also been revisiting Eudora Welty’s fiction in preparation for a Granta event [held at the New School last night]. “Why I Live at the P.O.” and “Petrified Man” are two of her most beloved stories, and with good reason: they’re funny and relentless and so accurately and minutely observed. Returning to them, I realized what an influence she must have had on Dorothy Allison (whose Bastard Out of Carolina, a #longlongread, I also recommend). Then I confirmed it. “I was seduced by Eudora Welty,” Allison wrote in 2005, though “I had every reason to distrust her, as I had distrusted Faulkner—both of them products of the middle-class South I disdained.”
To round out this unexpectedly southern round-up, for anyone who missed it last week, I recommend my friend Anna Holmes’ essay on the female Freedom Riders of the Civil Rights movement. One, a factory worker and mother of two traveling after a miscarriage, refused to give up her seat to a white couple and kicked a deputy in the groin when he tried to make her.
I spend so little time around here these days, I forgot to mention my inclusion in Paper Magazine’s Lit It Crowd. I love the photo; all my companions — Thessaly LaForce, Sadie Stein, Emma Straub, and Hamish Robertson — look dead sexy (which they are), while I’m off to the side, hands folded, gazing skyward and seemingly clucking like a delighted schoolmarm/auntie.
It’s a group, Lorin Stein said, “lousy with Parisians”: Thessaly and Sadie are editors and writers at The Paris Review Daily, and Emma and I are contributors. News of Thessaly’s upcoming departure for the Iowa Writers Workshop and that The New Yorker’s Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn will be taking over prompted The New York Observer’s Kat Stoeffel to note the Paper feature, in “Les Filles du Blog,” and to observe that “Although many intellectual and literary magazines have come under scrutiny lately for a lack of female bylines,” The Daily and the New Yorker’s Book Bench have no shortage of them.
Image of crowd assembled at Cinderella’s castle at night is by the New York Times’ Joachim Ladefoged.