Each week, members of the WFPL News team spotlight interesting stories we’ve read and enjoyed, for your weekend reading pleasure:
Gabe Bullard: When I first saw “E.B. White” and “Xerox” in this headline, I thought of some kind of man vs. machine battle between one of my favorite nonfiction writers and my favorite X-pronounced-as-a-Z word (sorry, Xerxes). But, in fact, it’s a thoughtful exchange (more so on one side) between White and Xerox about a sponsored article in Esquire Magazine in 1976 (that’s right! sponsored articles aren’t an invention of the Internet age). Read E.B. White on the Free Press.
Laura Ellis: Not so much reading, but certainly freaking out about and puzzling over, respectively. For one thing, some researchers at Virginia Tech are developing a giant robot jellyfish that will destroy us all. It’s not a matter of if, but when. Read U.S. Navy Building Giant Robot Jellyfish for Spying.
Bonus: In more risque news, (what time does this post go up again?) the attorney general and a gubernatorial candidate in Virginia want it to be illegal to get freaky in freaky ways. They’re trying to get the courts to reinstate the commonwealth’s sodomy law, which banned oral and anal sex. Read Virginia Gov. Candidate Cuccinelli Defending Law That Forbids Oral Sex.
Erin Keane: I heard Meg Wolitzer read from her new novel, The Interestings, at the AWP Conference in Boston last month. It’s a novel that follows a group of friends who meet as teens at a summer camp for talented kids through middle age. Her reading was part of a panel hosted by VIDA, an organization for women in literature that works to right the currently significant gender imbalance in the literary publishing landscape, an issue Wolitzer wrote about for last year in her New York Times Book Review essay, “The Second Shelf.” Read The Second Shelf.
This week, Wolitzer’s editor at Riverhead Books, Sarah McGrath, interviews the author for Slate about her book, about writing an urgent and “big” book, fighting for a gender neutral cover (no “coded images”—soft, figurative covers that subtly tell male readers that this book isn’t for them), and how editors and novelists work well together. Read Conversation Between Meg Wolitzer and Sarah McGrath.
Joseph Lord: Famed film critic Roger Ebert died this week. His longtime newspaper, the Chicago Sun-Times, summed up his career nicely in this obit. Read Roger Ebert Dead at 70 After Battle With Cancer.
Erica Peterson: This article analyzes fractures in the environmental movement—interestingly, many of them are caused by natural gas. Some environmental groups have embraced natural gas as a “bridge fuel” between coal and renewable energy. But natural gas isn’t without its environmental problems, and some environmental advocates view support of the fuel as a betrayal. It’s a good reminder that things are rarely black and white, and that everyone in the environmental movement doesn’t necessarily hold one belief. Read It’s Not Easy Being Green.
Bonus: This story is a year old, so you might have read it before. It’s Chris Heath’s account in GQ magazine of the exotic animal massacre in Zanesville, Ohio in October, 2011—when, as the title says, “18 tigers, 17 lions, 8 bears, 3 cougars, 2 wolves, 1 baboon and 1 macaque” were let loose in the small town. Besides being a fascinating and tragic story, the article is an interesting look at exotics animals laws, and a profile of the man who kept them in Zanesville. Read 18 Tigers, 17 Lions, 8 Bears, 3 Cougars, 2 Wolves, 1 Baboon, 1 Macaque, and 1 Man Dead in Ohio.