Staff Picks: Wikileaks Crudity, Jay-Z, Infinite DFW


This Week’s Reading


This has been a week of emotionally taxing reading. First, Shirley Jackson’s deliciously creepy tales (“The Lottery” has nothing on “The Summer People,” by the way), then Joyce Carol Oates’s New Yorker article on her husband’s sudden death and the advent of unexpected widowhood, and finally, a smattering of Marina Tsvetaeva’s vulnerable, heartfelt poems. Next week: Maybe I’ll lighten things up with a little Don Marquistoujours gai! —Nicole Rudick

A copy of The New Yorker’s newly minted 20 Under 40 book, edited by Deborah Treisman, landed on my desk. The colors on the spine are festively appropriate for the holidays (just like our fresh-off-the-press winter issue). Some of my favorites (and there are many): Daniel Alarcón’s “Second Lives,” (check out what he wrote for us this week); Salvatore Scibona’s “The Kid”; and C. E. Morgan’s “Twins.” —Thessaly La Force

Jed Perl’s pox-on-both-your-houses treatment of l’affair Wojnarowicz and its “Wikileaks crudity.” —David Wallace-Wells

Like many avid David Foster Wallace fans, I was both thrilled for the recent release of his archives at the Harry Ransom Center and a little sad that I lived so far from Austin. Luckily, I was able to get a glimpse of what it’s like to sift through the documents by reading Seth Colter Wall’s article in Newsweek. The piece is accompanied by a gallery of what didn’t make it into Infinite Jest, which pushed my DFW-induced excitement over the edge—more to read of my favorite book of all time! I love this beautifully intimate scene in the Arizona desert, which is part of a first-person narrative from James O. Incadenza that was cut from the final version. —Natalie Jacoby

Inspired by Jay-Z’s new book Decoded, I decided to find some lyrics online: “My mind is infested … Dual level like duplexes,/ in unity, my crew and me/ commit atrocities like we got immunity.” The combination of fire and regret can be thrilling. And in terms of wordplay, rhythm, and energy, the lines strike me as poetry. But, as Kelefa Sanneh observes, they may be even better as rap. —Kate Waldman

At Kim’s Video in the East Village, I found a copy of What Remains, a moving documentary by Steven Cantor about the life and work of the photographer Sally Mann. Mann has an intense preoccupation with the life cycle, which is both fascinating and creepy. As the camera accompanies her around a forensic facility, she says, “I love mummified skin … It looks like fabric or water or something … the way it undulates and moves, it seems alive.” And: “You really have to realize that you’re not there after you’ve died. Your body is just a carapace.” Terrifying, but also strangely enviable how she’s come to terms with a subject many of us refuse to confront. —Alexandra Zukerman