“One Thing Only, As We Were Taught”: Moral Revelation, Teaching, and the Eclipse

By Isabelle Laurenzi

“Are you still going to see the total eclipse?” a former student asks me in late June. We’ve run into each other a couple weeks after the school year has ended.

Teenagers, he’s reminded me, still care about the extent to which we act according to our speech. They want us adults, sometimes even need us, to do what we say we’ll do. Continue reading

Return to Rapture: Celebrating the Legacy of BioShock on its 10-year Anniversary

By Rennie McDougall

In Charles Onyett’s original review for BioShock — which this month is celebrating its 10-year anniversary — he predicted that the video game was “the benchmark against which games for years to come will, and indeed must, be measured.” Celebrated as a literary achievement on its release, BioShock even appeared in the London Review of Books, where John Lanchester called it “visually striking, verging on intermittently beautiful, also violent, dark, sleep-troubling, and perhaps, to some of its intended audience, thought-provoking.” Although Lanchester recognized the game’s achievement amongst gamers, he remarked that among non-gamers, “I have yet to encounter anyone who has ever heard of it.” Continue reading

The Korean Health Club: A Cultural Trial by Fire, Ice, and Nakedness

By Stefano Young

Stefano Young didn’t know the difference between Korea, China, and Japan until he was 23 — but then he met a Korean woman, learned to say “사랑해요,” and has studied Korean language and culture ever since. In this occasional series, the Los Angeles Review of Books Korea Blog presents his essays on his ever-deepening experiences with Korean life, culture, and family. Links to previous installments appear at the bottom of the post. Continue reading

The American Flag in and as Contemporary Art

By Farrah Karapetian

On June 6, 1966, Sidney Street, an African-American veteran of World War II, sat in his Brooklyn apartment listening to the news on his radio. He heard that the civil rights activist James Meredith had been shot by a sniper. Street took his 48-star American flag out of a drawer, carried it out to Lafayette Avenue and St. James Place, laid a piece of paper on the sidewalk, and keeping the flag properly folded, lit it on fire. He never let it touch the ground. A small group of people gathered around him, and when police arrived, they heard Street say, “If they let that happen to Meredith, we don’t need an American flag.” Street believed in the flag as much as did the people who soon sought to punish him, or his action would have lacked significance. Continue reading

Red Ink of Revisionist History

By Kavita Das

On October 16, 1963, James Baldwin delivered a speech to a group of teachers entitled “The Negro Child — His Self-Image,” which was later that year published in the Saturday Review as “A Talk to Teachers.” This was a year of great turbulence and strife as the fight for Civil Rights was being waged and a toll was being exacted on Black lives, young and old. On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his now iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, in front of more than a quarter of a million people gathered at the March on Washington. A few months before that, on June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers, pioneering civil rights leader and field secretary for the Mississippi chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was murdered outside his home. And just a month before Baldwin’s talk, on September 15, 1963, four young Black girls were brutally murdered when the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, a frequent gathering site for civil rights meetings, was bombed. Baldwin, outraged by the cruel theft of these young girls’ lives, was also deeply concerned by what he viewed as a lack of broad “public uproar,” outside the Black community. And though he was not a teacher himself, he seemed to harbor a desperate hope that sounding a warning to those who shape young minds in classrooms across the country might be a way forward. Continue reading

Asking for a Friend: Proselytizing for Professional Help

Dear Olive,

My friend’s parents split up about a year ago. Her mother is doing great post-breakup, but her dad isn’t — the split was not his choice, and now he’s lost his job, on top of that. My friend is furious at her mother (for breaking up the family, and for abandoning her father) and is in a constant state of distress about her father. She’s an only child and relies heavily on me for support, which I’m happy to provide. But I’m quite sure that my friend needs professional help — I’m not a therapist, I’m just an assistant! She’s in her late 20s, has never been to therapy, and rebuffs my gentle suggestions to do so. I’m afraid she’s going to hold on to this anger for the rest of her life if she doesn’t start to deal with it. How do I help her? Continue reading

Meet the LARB China Channel Team, Part 1 — A Q&A with Managing Editor Alec Ash

By Jeff Wasserstrom

During the upcoming weeks, BLARB will be running interviews with some of the people who will be playing key roles in the LARB China Channel.  Regular readers of the China Blog will, of course, be familiar with some of the people interviewed, but they may be curious to learn what these individuals have been up to lately.  For others, this will be a chance to get to know some of the writers and editors involved in what will soon be the newest addition to the LARB constellation of channels.  This first in the series is a Q&A with Alec Ash, a British writer based in Beijing, whose first book, Wish Lanterns: Young Lives in New China, has been reviewed favorably by, among others, Howard French and John Pomfret, two journalists with very strong China-related track records.  Continue reading

Yes, O.J. Simpson Did It. The CDC Report on Female Homicides Should Leave No Doubt.

By Amber Haque

Last month, two seemingly disparate news stories emerged on the same day: the first was O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing for a 2007 conviction on charges of kidnapping, assault, and armed robbery. The second was the publication of a report on female homicides in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Continue reading