Outside Reading — Very Much an Irish Woman edition

Sinead O’Connor on stage, in January, 2020. (Mairo Cinquetti/NurPhoto)

Sinead O’Connor Remembers Things Differently by Amanda Hess

This fantastic profile of Sinéad Marie Bernadette O’Connor, who also goes by the name Shuhada Sadaqat, offers a definitive, paper-of-record pardon of the artist’s notorious rending of a religious figure’s photograph. Better yet, writer Amanda Hess conveys a detail about the lineage of that image that makes the gesture all the more powerful. Viewed by too many as relic or a villain, the O’Connor described in this piece is an artist, a world-class empathizer, a complicated soul, and, maybe more than anything else, a powerhouse survivor. This article is published by The New York Times.

How a Review Changed Both Sarah Silverman and Our Critic

In 2005, film critic A.O. Scott delivered a negative review of the comedy-concert film Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic. A little more than fifteen years later, Scott and Silverman discuss that pan, with the comic candidly noting that some of the observations in the review made her rethink her approach to stand-up and the critic acknowledging that he now regrets structuring some of the complaints as more personal disparagements. It’s a fascinating and admirable conversation that illuminates many of the ways the cultural conversation has changed for the better over the course of the past decades and a half. This article is published by The New York Times.

Campus Cancel Culture Freakouts Obscure the Power of University Boards by Asheesh Kapur Siddiqu

I despise the term “cancel culture,” which is almost reason enough for me to not share this article that puts it right in the headline. But, hey, I understand search engine optimization requires the prominent use of whatever the buzzy nonsense of the moment might be. Besides, this piece, written by Asheesh Kapur Siddiqu, does an excellent job exposing where the power truly lies in our institutions of higher learning. As someone who spent around fifteen years working for colleges, and has watched in dismay as untold damage was done to my alma mater university system by the miscreants that a truly moronic governor appointed to the board of regents, I recognize the hard truths about willful mismanagement laid out in the article. As a society, we need to stop allowing a wealthy class that has no respect for education continue to drive decisions about its implementation and availability. This article is published by Teen Vogue.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI (2017) by David Grann

David Grann’s thorough archival research and sharp reporting result in useful unearthing of crimes that were largely forgotten before this book was published. Much as the true-crime storytelling is the obvious hook here, the real impact of Killers of the Flower Moon is the reminder that the Osage Nation was wealthy a century ago, beneficiaries of treaties that gave them ownership of oil-rich lands. Then, of course, the white power structure found a way to strip that away from them. Grann inserts himself into the narrative a little more than I prefer in the last section, but I understand the usefulness of personalizing the discoveries he makes to properly contextualize his conjecture.

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